Friday, July 29, 2022

As I write this, I just turfed it on my bike, and I'm typing to make sure my hand doesn't lock up! I'm also trying to recall if this was the last comic I bought at the last show: I don't think so, but it was in my car for some time, anyway. Fortunately, it doesn't have a fancy cover; those do not take the heat well. From 2016, Green Lanterns #7, "Family Matters, part one: Kitchen Nightmares" Written by Sam Humphries, art by Ronan Cliquet.
We saw the next issue some time back, but today Jessica battles her anxiety as she...has to hang out with her partner Simon and his family. Jessica tries to nope out, but Simon manages to persaude her to stick around and help him with the ma'amoul, Lebanese cookies. Who amongst us could resist cookies? Meanwhile, their guest Guardian, Rami, continues his weird mediation in the guest room, as Simon's nephew Farid takes advantage. If that kid had found a sharpie that would've showed on blue skin, Rami would've had a mustache and black eye that would've lasted a thousand years...
Simon also has a freakout, when the ma'amoul doesn't turn out: Jessica points out that's usually her speciality; but Simon's actually nervous about his mom. While she was super-demanding and eventually drove him to rebel (and get in some trouble he wasn't proud of) his mom was still his hero, and he wished he was a better son, like one that could make some damn cookies. Jessica wonders if being a superhero wasn't more impressive, but whatever, they have power rings! With some creative substitutions, they manage to get a couple batches into the oven; then she encourages Simon not to worry about who he used to be, show mom who he was now.
And Simon does, greeting his mom in full uniform: she immediately asks if he's going trick-or-treating with the nephew. Maybe not the best time, but she comes around; even if she's a little disappointed he has to cover his handsome face. But enough home life, as Rami awakens, blurts out "the Dominators are coming!" and takes off... 

Sometimes I think about the history courses I've taken in my life, and how they were across the board utterly useless. What do I know about Lebanon and its culture? Just about nothing! Maybe history should start with cookies: these are the sweets people in this area make, because these ingredients are what's in the neighborhood, and here's when and why they have them, and go from there. People pay more attention to cookies, and I think just establishing that everybody across the world likes cookies or whatnot would humanize them more than just some blotch on a map.
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Thursday, July 28, 2022

This is another mini-series not unlike DC's Sword of the Atom, in that I feel like I buy it every time I come across a cheap issue, but I may or may not have a full run floating around anywhere. For all I know, I could have twelve copies of today's book: from 1986, Solomon Kane #3, "Blades of the Brotherhood" Adapted by Ralph Macchio, from the story by Robert E. Howard, pencils by Bret Blevins, inks by Al Williamson. Cover by Bill Sienkiewicz.
Lurking on a beach in England, Solomon Kane meets young hothead Jack Hollinster, who is sour over winning a duel without killing local blackheart Sir George Banway: Banway had been badmouthing his girl Mary, while also coveting her for himself. Kane has been eyeballing a ship, barely visible from shore, that may or may not belong to Jonas Hardraker, aka the Fishhawk--"Hardraker" seems like a cooler name, man. Kane is hoping to settle an old score, and is probably only half paying attention to Jack.
Later that night, both Jack and Mary are separately, and easily, duped into going out to the Banway place. Banway plans on keeping Mary for two months, then turning her over to Hardraker, who would also dump Jack's body somewhere it would never wash up. The poor couple needs an act of God to save them, and get it with the arrival of Kane, who had been hunting Hardraker for two years: he had killed the young daughter of a friend of his, driving him mad with grief. With no other family to avenge the daughter, Kane took up the job; as Hardraker calls him "Sir Galahad." Kane is more than willing to just shoot him, but Hardraker argues with the "Puritan" that he deserves a chance: Kane gives it to him, one-on-one, with knives. Jack and Mary are freed, and cover the other pirates with pistols, as Kane and Hardraker fight: Kane makes short work of him.
When the other pirates make a try for it, Kane, Jack, and Mary are forced to flee; and Mary is quickly recaptured by Banway, who walks off a point-blank pistol shot. Jack manages to catch up with them on the beach, as the other pirates don't hang around. Jack fights well, but Banway had been wearing armor under his shirt--probably at the duel as well, which wouldn't have been cricket--and Jack breaks his sword. Banway thinks he's going to be able to murder Jack and have his way with Mary, but may have forgotten Kane, who stabs him in the face: "When a man sets foot on the adder, he asks not its size." 

Although the couple wish Kane would stick around, he's got the Lord's work to do: walk the earth, slam evil, etc. Which is a lot like Caine in Kung Fu, come to think of it. I really like Bret Blevins' art, but I don't think he ever did a long run on anything I read: probably had some of his New Mutants issues at some point, though.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2022


...Does anyone still say "Dibs"? I don't think I've ever heard it in real life! Jake saying it, well, maybe. Especially if he's just Marc Spector's idea of what a cabbie talks like. 

Tigra was an actual cat for a bit, wasn't she? That seems potentially darker than the Void. If she hadn't been cat-sized at the time, I shudder to think what her bodycount would've been. "Dark Quasar" could potentially be the biggest bad of all: in that vein, I loved Adam Warren's Dirty Pair: Fatal but not Serious. A bad guy activates Yuri's clone, tells her this was a simulation, go kill the Dirty Pair. 'Bad' Yuri asks, what are the parameters? How hard should she go? The bad guy doesn't care, which gives her a blank check for mayhem: since she thinks it's a sim, she doesn't have to worry about property damage, innocent bystanders, common decency; she can do whatever to complete the mission. And taking those restraints off, she goes hard. Quasar, without any morality? Could be scary!

Namor didn't just fall out of the last shot; I think he would not be as sentimental as the rest. Even if he thought he would forget, he doesn't care enough to remember. On the other hand, Jake probably seems the toughest, but is pure marshmallow inside. Cries at movies, sad pet videos, etc. 
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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Ooh, topical. Could probably reprint it every 6-7 years.

Probably have to update the prices, I suppose. And maybe Betty's pants. From 1971, Betty and Me #33, cover by Dan DeCarlo.
This copy's missing a few interior pages, but the opener "My Way.." is pretty good, as Archie decides from now on, he's going to live his life his way! Veronica rightly assumes that's going to be a trainwreck, but Betty thinks she can help--wait, can you help someone go "their way"? How many ways are there anymore? You can't exactly blaze a new trail every time you go to the malt shop. Read more!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Time to get out the 'recidivism' tag again!

I have not had a lot of interest in current Batman continuity, but I do hope DC keeps letting Kelley Jones do a limited series or two whenever he wants to. From 2019, Batman: Kings of Fear #6, "The Once and Future King" Written by Scott Peterson, art by Kelley Jones. 

Joining this series already in progress, the Scarecrow has finally managed to force a breakthrough out of Batman with his fear gas: has Batman helped Gotham City in the slightest? Would the city have been a better place if he never was? Sounds like the worst It's a Wonderful Life riff yet, Bats really should have got around to watching that. Although caught, the Scarecrow knows something happened, he might have gotten to him this time; but Batman isn't about to tell him.
Batman tells Gordon the Scarecrow has made him question some things; but Gordon advises him to consider the source, with a surprisingly heartfelt moment that he knows Batman probably ducked out of midway through. Batman takes Scarecrow back to Arkham, along with a guard that had been working with him but turned on him in the end: Bats appears to be giving him a second chance. He also bumps into a young doctor, who tells him he saved not only her once, but her husband: he had been a goon for the Riddler, but one meet-up with Batman put him on the straight-and-narrow, and he was able to make something of his life. She also advises that while the recidivism rate in Gotham was usually around 50%, for criminals stopped by Batman it was less than two. That two percent was largely Arkham inmates, the usual suspects, and just went to prove they were crazy.
After stopping a break-in with a stern look on his way home, Batman is more emotionally exhausted than anything when he gets back to the Batcave. Alfred doesn't mince words with him: if it came down to Bruce leading a happy, long life; and Gotham going up in flames, well, let it burn. He hates Batman--that Bruce has chosen to do that with his life--but still believes Batman has done good for the city. Otherwise, what was the point of everything they had been through? 

In fairly typical Bat-fashion, Bruce gets about two whole seconds to mull on that, before the radio announces a breakout at Blackgate. I had thought it was Arkham for a moment, since we do see the Joker briefly welcoming the Scarecrow back, and I could absolutely see the humor in him busting out after he figures Batman is home and about to go to bed... 

The argument hopefully hasn't come back to Twitter since posting this; that Batman should take all the money he puts into Bat-crap instead into making Gotham a more livable place to reduce crime. First, I don't think Bruce as that cash as liquid assets, a lot of his gear is embezzled. That and doesn't Bruce do all of that already; it's just that Gotham is so bad it still has crime?
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Friday, July 22, 2022

Standing on a beach with a stick in his hand...

When was the last time Daredevil went to the beach? Well, he doesn't this issue either, despite the cover. From 1995, Daredevil #337, "Fathoms of Humanity, part five: Heart of the Fire" Written by Gregory Wright, pencils by Tom Grindberg, inks by Don Hudson.
Oof, I think there's more words on that page, than in this post...This was an extended fill-in arc, as D. G. Chichester and Scott McDaniel had gone to work on Elektra: Root of Evil: McDaniel would not return, and Chichester would only for four issues as 'Alan Smithee.' Midway through his armored stint as "Jack Batlin," DD was trying to help a community of homeless people living below New York City--not the Morlocks. (It's apparently not uncommon to this day.) Two of their number had been fingered for a bombing, and Daredevil was struggling to bring the real bomber to justice. There is a page this issue of the cops sweating two black men for a confession, then grudgingly releasing them when new evidence cleared them: the cops are not shown in a particularly favorable lot this whole arc, really; although of course DD still maintains his almost Pollyanna-esque faith in the law.
Of course, since this was a Marvel comic, this whole mess also involved the Kingpin, his underground lookalike King and his CHUD-types, Bushwacker, the former Deathlok now going by Demolisher, Blackwulf, and Joshua, the man that used to be Peacekeeper. Peacekeeper appeared to have been made up, whole-cloth, possibly on the spot: Marvel already had another former mystery-man turned homeless hero, the Angel; but the continuity may have gone sideways on him.
Daredevil does find himself in a pickle towards the end, as he has to disarm a bomb, and of course can't see the wires. But, his contacts as Jack Batlin help win the day for a change, as the corporate bad guy is blackmailed then exposed. (Since he's too pure, DD won't allow himself or his contacts keep the millions they extorted: maybe they shouldn't, but hear me out, maybe they should?) And all of this of course plays into Wilson Fisk's hands, as even in a reduced state, he continues to play the long game. This wasn't a must-read arc, but not as bad as I'd been expecting. And I thought Grindberg did an OK job on the much-maligned armor suit.   Read more!

Thursday, July 21, 2022

This one isn't breaking any new ground, but Huston does credit his sources, and it's well done. From 2010, PunisherMAX: Hot Rods of Death #1, "Getting Mad" Written by Charlie Huston, art by Shawn Martinbrough.
Former Marine Billy Finn contacts Frank: post-war, he had wanted to get as far from the jungle as possible, and took up residence in a dead-zone town in the desert. Two prospecting brothers had found uranium, and the Roxxon corporation immediately starts trying to strongarm the locals off the land, contracting a biker gang. The gang gets off to a better start than most, realizing Billy had been trying to reach the Punisher, and catches them both with a homemade plastique mine in the highway. Billy dies, and the gang stakes Frank out in the desert over a scorpion nest. Frank still tells the leader, Pike, he should kill himself now and save himself some pain.
Frank is rescued by the pretty local mechanic, Tess. The townspeople think they're beat, especially since the gang also got Frank's car full of gear; but Frank knows with him on their side they can take 'em. A brief montage of suping up his car and making molotov cocktails later, and the gang is put through the thresher. Literally for a couple; I don't know if a combine harvester can typically catch and chew up a pair of muscle cars, but it does look cool. Roxxon execs make another attempt to browbeat a sale, but catch what they think is rocksalt but is actually U-235. And Frank saves Pike for last, and a conversation about suffering. You will cringe on the last page! I don't know if it's going to be as long a conversation as all that, though; I'm guessing he'd bleed out before too long...
Huston credits High Plains Drifter, the Road Warrior, Death Race 2000, the Seven Samurai, and Rolling Thunder; but he still brings something to it. Out of those movies, I'm not sure I've seen Rolling Thunder, but William Devane might be my favorite actor to play president, as he did in 24, Stargate, and the Dark Knight Rises! (EDIT: I did catch the last 20 minutes or so of Rolling Thunder on Pluto TV yesterday: Devane and Tommy Lee Jones put on their army uniforms, excuse themselves from an uncomfortable family dinner, then go murder a bunch of guys in a whorehouse. It's Tarentino-approved!) Read more!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022


Feel like I have a weird chapter break this week, but that could be me feeling my self-imposed deadline creeping up... 

 Also, I swear I had the Cotali mention in there before Dale's comment last week! All the adventures they reference are vaguely intended to call back old Justice League of America covers--really old ones! Go all the way back!

How much claim does Namor have to the Defenders name? I feel like less than the Hulk's, honestly. But when you have a team without any formal structure, yeah, that's pretty much the Defenders, isn't it? Even if you have a moon base...
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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

This is maybe trying to have your cake and eat it too; before all the cakes get taken away.

Every so often on Pluto TV's Sci-Fi channel (apparently not related to the SyFy Channel?) they'll run a block of Night Man, the TV series from the late 90's, based on the Malibu (later Marvel) comic. I enjoy it, even if objectively it's not very good; and I feel like I'm going to say much the same about today's book. From 1995, Night Man #∞, "This is Black September" Written by Steve Englehart, pencils by Dean Zachary, inks by Chad Hunt and H.E.R.C.
We last saw the Night Man some time back, getting just wrecked on a metaphysical level by Loki and the Reality Gem. This resulted in there now being two Night Men, who were ostensibly the same but were starting to become more and more different with the choices they made. After finally learning of each other and accusing the other of murdering Chinese women and harvesting organs, they are confronted by their main recurring villain, the mystic Rhiannon. Wha--no, not that one! I don't think. Well, maybe. She was immortal in the Vandal Savage manner: she periodically needed to harvest, and probably eat, various organs to maintain herself. Although, she has an ulterior motive to her cannibalism today: jealousy, that Johnny Domino was dating a Chinese woman, and not her. But with two Night Men, has she doubled her chances? The one currently in costume agrees to join her: he feels Rhiannon's knowledge could aid his fight against evil, and he could get her organs without having to kill anyone, from accidents or donations. (That seems optimistic.) The plainclothes Johnny argues two Night Men were already pretty good, but the other counters the night was more than twice as black as they had known, citing "it's not just night, it's space!" Rhiannon cracks Johnny over the skull with a bottle, then takes her Night Man to Stonehenge...
Believing his alternate was making a mistake following Rhiannon into darkness, Johnny heads home to get his passport, only to be confronted by his dad: the alternate had set up a password, so Johnny appeared to be a fake. Rhiannon and Night Man already appeared to be at Stonehenge, though; as she plans to make use of the power floating around from the somewhat nebulous "Black September" crossover. Real "red skies" feel to that one. Rhiannon claims to have been born there, 4700 years ago; but she also won't be treated as a "slut." If the Night Man wanted to learn from her, he would have to get with her; and he seems to give in. He also has to fight some stag-headed spirits, to "ride (the power) like a wave from the sea!" But the other Night Man approaches by motorcycle--a rental, borrowed, stolen? Don't know!
The other Night Man arrives just before what obviously was going to be the big finish, and tackles his double, as reality seems to collapse. Rhiannon's Night Man gets a Celtic makeover, but is left alone in Stonehenge: Rhiannon and original flavor Night Man have disappeared, with the latter briefly appearing through a mystic door in combat with Wolverine! The Celtic version is left to wonder what his new powers mean...
Since this issue, like the rest of the Ultraverse's issues that month, was number infinity; I had to look if this was the start or the end of what would be a five-issue run: the start. This particular copy is the 1-in-5 variant; most of the run was a black, one gimmick at a time, OK? After this series, Night Man would get a three-issue gumbo with Gambit, and I'm not sure it ends well for anyone involved; but the Ultraverse was collectively shelved around then. Read more!

Monday, July 18, 2022

Maybe Wonder Man was the sticking point?

For whatever reason back in 1992, despite the fact that I was regularly reading Quasar and Captain America, and had read almost all of the other books involved for long stretches in the past; I was a hard no on Operation: Galactic Storm. I think I did buy the conclusion, but other than that I stuck to the titles I was reading and that was it. Shoot, I think I bought the collection on digital, but I'm still not convinced I've read the whole damn thing. From 1992, Avengers #345, "Storm Warnings" Written by Bob Harras, pencils by Steve Epting, inks and colors by Tom Palmer.
Above: Cap has been wrong, wrong, wrong about this, for like 130-some issues. I think it's some kind of old-timey throwback thing, like Cap thinks the Avengers shouldn't have more members than maybe a baseball team. Wrong! Avengers rosters should have like 90 guys. Maybe three do most of the heavy lifting, but so what? Anyway, five chapters in, and this still feels like it's just getting started? In space near the sun, Sersi, Thor, Quasar, and the Vision rescue the scientists from earth's Starcore satellite; and are present when the Shi'ar fleet appears through a wormhole. Earth's sun was something like a crossing point for wormholes, so the Shi'ar could take another one from there to attack the Kree; but they were causing damage to the sun and didn't much care. Actually, the Shi'ar captain is notably uncomfortable that they have to kill the gathered Avengers, but they couldn't risk them being spies for the Kree. However, he's bitten off more than he can chew, as the Avengers capture their ship.
At the gathering of both east and west coast Avengers teams, Captain America is a little upset to hear Sersi threatened to kill the Shi'ar crew, and that the prisoners have been shrunk by Hank Pym for storage! He argues it seems like something the Collector would do, but Gruenwald's Cap sometimes seems to have forgotten how wars are fought. Still, using Quasar to ferry teams around, he proposes splitting into three groups: one going to see the Kree, the other the Shi'ar, and a third to protect earth. The third team being slightly less powerful types--although, She-Hulk and Gilgamesh arguably don't fit that shoe, but Hawkeye doesn't think it fits him, either. And Hank Pym agrees: he knew Clint had faced the Kree in space before...and used to be "more than just an archer." With a new dose of growth serum, Clint is back in his Goliath harness, and complains to Cap until he agrees to bump USAgent for him. Squeaky wheel, guys, squeaky wheel.
Quasar sends both space teams on their way, then stays to guard the stargate (Not that one!) but is quickly joined by Her. Yes, I scanned beloved and memorable Her instead of Clint-back-as-Goliath. The panels lined up better, and--look, I like Her, OK? Shut up, that's why! And on the Shi'ar homeworld, Empress Lilandra is visited by her estranged sister Deathbird, who seems to be offering to get things done but help Lilandra keep her hands clean... 

That ran 19 chapters? I counted twice, and yeah! Plus I recall Cap #401 is basically a wrap-up chapter, too. Also this issue, still another Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation; actual number of copies sold nearest to filing date: 173,950. While as usual, that would be a crushing number now; it seemed low for the time? Also, if you haven't seen it, the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon was able to knock Operation: Galactic Storm out in about two episodes--okay, thinking about it, I don't think the Shi'ar were involved, but no great loss. If I recall correctly, that episode has my favorite Hank Pym bit of the series, as Yellowjacket.
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Friday, July 15, 2022

"Read Siege #4 before this book!" Uh, no; you can't make me. While I liked his other series, I know this one was reamed when it came out. Has it aged like fine wine, or gone even more sour? From 2010, Sentry: Fallen Sun #1, "Fallen Sun" Written by Paul Jenkins, pencils by Tom Raney, inks by Scott Hanna.
As part of Dark Avengers and Siege, Norman Osborn manipulated the Sentry, giving his Void side more and more control. Osborn also had Bob Reynold's wife Lindy murdered, by Bullseye--yet another crime neither of them will ever pay for--and when the Void took control, Bob begged Thor to kill him. Freed at last, his remains were launched into the sun; but this issue was his funeral: no service, since nobody showed.
But, when his former sidekicks Scout and Watchdog don't think anyone is going to show; they're joined by Tony Stark, the Fantastic Four, Steve Rogers, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and the X-Men's Cyclops, White Queen, and Rogue. (Since they were in civilian clothes, I had Tony and Stephen mixed up for a second, and thought Tony had gone with Rogue's hair!) While Reed tries to comfort Scout, Sue and Johnny notice Rogue seems to be taking this pretty hard. Tony starts with the first story, explaining how Bob had always been there for him, even in the lowest depths of his alcoholism. Tony is furious with himself, for his shoddy behavior, where he perhaps did not realize what Bob was going through. (Iron Man 2 was in theatres, so it's weird to see AA Tony there and party Tony on screen.) The Torch tells Scout Spidey sent his regards, and that Thor was visiting Bob's aged mother: while really senile, she vaguely recalled him from Bob and Lindy's wedding. (Dealing with old people can't be easy for Thor; possibly harder than telling her he killed her son.)
Strange recounts how Bob gave up his power, and everyone's memory of him, to save everyone: to be a hero without recognition. Reed is visited by Bob's computer, CLOC; who gives him Bob's diary. It asks Reed to read a section, which surprises him, then says it will rebuild the tower, to await his master's return. Reed tries to talk it out of it, but CLOC says his access is revoked, and drifts off. After some brief remembrances, Rogue takes off crying: the Sentry had been able to touch her, without her stealing his powers or memories. Johnny and Cyclops seem to confirm there was more to their relationship: this was greeted by fandom at the time like a wet fart at a water park.
But Ben's story, about why he hates the Sentry, might be even more character-assassinating: facing the Wrecking Crew, with multiple civilians in danger, Ben is this close to snapping the Wrecker's neck, when the Sentry stops him. A month and a half later, the Wrecker breaks stir, and kills a busload of kids to make a point. But Ben thinks the Sentry was right, and should've told him so when he was alive; and that he was the better man. Oh, bulls--there's a final recollection and closing by Reed, but I've had it. 

The Sentry would be back, in 2013's Uncanny Avengers #9, as a Horseman of Apocalypse. He's actually been killed again since, which is a hazard of making a big deal about a superhero death.
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