Friday, September 30, 2022

This'll be a quick one, since it's not the kind of book you can really break the plot down on, but it's also the kind you should grab whenever you can! From 2017, A Bulletproof Coffin One-Shot: the 1000 Yard Stare" Written by David Hine, art by Shaky Kane.
The team of Hine and Kane was no more, having sold out to Big 2 Publishing; but having burned through his payout "like a true red-blooded American...on booze, blow, blackjack and broads" Kane had been approached by Image Nation for a new book, which leads to him on the convention circuit. It's not as much fun as it sounds! We also check out his ashcan edition of "Hypno Vampires from the Stars," a Coffin Fly adventure.
This is where I'll heave one of my infrequent sighs at not being better organized; as I can't recall if I had this already, but I jumped on it when I found it in the dollar bins! I know I have the first Bulletproof Coffin in trade, but did I collect the second in singles...? Also need to make a note, I haven't read the Beef yet. Read more!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

I don't think I've read a ton from them, but I think Titan Comics picked up the Conan license. And today's book is more like the Cimmerian titles from Ablaze, in a way: from 2017, The Forever War #5, written by Joe Haldeman, art by Marvano. 

This was an adaptation of Haldeman's novel, a sci-fi classic I couldn't recommend more: in the early 21st century, young physics student William Mandella is drafted for a war in space with the alien Taurans--about whom virtually nothing is known, that's not even their name. Due to relativity and time distortion, he first leaves earth in 1997, returning two years later to 2024. This leads to future-shock, as he attempts to adjust to two decades of radical changes in society; but he and his girl Marygay are also more-or-less coerced back into the service for another tour. They are later given different assignments, meaning even if they somehow survived, they would almost certainly never see each other again, separated by time dilation. By this point, Mandella has ranked up just by seniority, being the oldest living soldier and commanding a squad of gay clones: by 2471, heterosexuality was no longer the norm, which leads to some resentment towards him.

Despite only having a few years real-time over everyone else, Mandella knows the score: he, and everyone else there, were pretty much doomed. He describes his squad's chances as "like playing Russian roulette with bullets in four of the six chambers. If you can pull the trigger ten times without decorating the opposite wall, congratulations! You're a civilian. Good luck." And even then, their current mission would leave them 700 years in the future, and he would be alone: Mandella moves seemingly out of inertia rather than anything else. 

Sadly, I only found this random issue in the quarter bin so far, but I still recommend it or the novel: it's not only an allegory for Haldeman's Vietnam experience, it's a bit of a pushback at Heinlein's Starship Troopers--I read that one years before the movie and didn't enjoy it in the slightest.
Speaking of time dilation: I didn't recognize it from this single issue, until I saw the cover of volume 1 on Wikipedia: this had originally been published in three volumes, in Belgium in 1988! I feel like that cover was in an ad in the back of Savage Sword of Conan or something. Not unlike the Cimmerian titles, Titan chopped it into a six-issue mini, which I think had more variant covers than the GCD currently shows. Do these sell better as singles than collections; or first one then the other for the American market? Ugh, I can't crunch those numbers...
Read more!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Oddly, I'm not sure Gwen would be an Essential or Showcase collector: I think they predate her by a few years, and I suspect she would be a digital girl. But, I love them, and wish I had bought more of them when they were first coming out. I just bought the Adam Strange Showcase off of eBay, so there are still a few floating around. My local comic shop still has a few in stock, which I grab on occasion.  I need to sit down and update my list, since it sucks to see some in the wild and struggle to remember which volumes of Thor I have; and here are the lists of DC Showcases and Marvel Essentials.

Gwen's shelf, though, is actually mine; my most recent craft nonsense project! It's a 1/12 version of one of my own bookshelves. I have um, like four of the same, inexpensive mass-market particle board shelves; all crammed about as full as I can get them. (I strongly suspect some, if not all of the shelves; will have to be replaced the next time I move. They hold up fine where they are, but aren't the most durable things.) For a change, I didn't have to work completely from scratch; there was a very nice instructional video that pointed me in the right direction, but I didn't like the corners and resorted to my chosen medium, black duct tape!
Hmm, I think I left a big open strip there, because I was going to scan some of the smaller zines that are usually on that shelf: we got a Jhonen Vasquez Fillerbunny, but I missed scanning Evan Dorkin's Milk & Cheese: the Special Edition. But all the books, not unlike the actual Showcases and Essentials, are filled with newsprint, hacked out of the local free weekly and bound up with tape. So, you could arrange or even (gasp!) organize the shelf, but can't flip through them. Still wish I remembered where I put Essential Frankenstein; and I'm almost positive I've read Showcase: the War that Time Forgot but I can't recollect if I just got it out of the library or something. Mileage may vary, but the more oddball collections are probably the hardest to find but the ones to get. 

Satana turning a spell on Gwenpool, is the equivalent of cocking a loaded gun. Just to show she means business...Do Gwen's powers work like this? I thought so, but I could be wrong, and it could change at any point anyway. 
Read more!

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

From the title, I did not think things were going to go great for him.

The cover pulled me in, and I had guessed this was from the tailend of the series, after they had maybe course corrected back to being a more traditional war comic. Not quite! From 1983, Blackhawk #259, "The Tomb of the Unknown Blackhawk!" Written by Mark Evanier, art by Dan Spiegle. Cover by Howard Chaykin! 

Winslow Shirk leads a sad, gray life: being a nobody would be several steps up for him. So would a 4-F classification, the draft board describes him as "7-W...the only time you go is when the enemy is on the Triborough Bridge, heading west!" But, after a newsreel, Winslow decides to make something of himself, and join the Blackhawks! I feel like knowing how to fly a plane would be a prerequisite for joining, but the first step might be simply to find the Blackhawks. Their base wasn't public knowledge, but while Winslow manages to find Blackhawk Island, it was a smoldering, radioactive crater; nuked in the previous issue! (That was reprinted in Best of DC #52, which probably got it in front of a lot more eyeballs!)
Here's where the weirdness starts: exposure to the radiation turns Winslow invisible. Stripping down to his glasses, he infiltrates British intelligence, then follows a officer to the Blackhawks in the field and gets to see them in action. He also notes they seemed to be a man down: Stanislaus was still in infirmary, now with a crisis of confidence. Blackhawk catches up to the Nazi leader, and discovers--Hitler? In the field? With a trick electrical field and an escape balloon, he gets away; and the Blackhawks recall they had seen no less than five Hitlers escaping a Nazi lab a few issues prior. Winslow invisibly hitchhikes back to "Blackhawk Island II" with the team, and listens in as Blackhawk and Stanislaus hash things out. The full squadron then deploys to defend Wilson Churchill, leaving Winslow behind in a borrowed uniform--hey, it's cold! But, Winslow is the only one to get a late message: Churchill wasn't at Downing Street, he was in Belvar! In his borrowed uniform and a latex mask used in an interrogation, Winslow convinces a mechanic to fly him to Belvar, then leaps into action to defeat the Hitler-lookalike. (When his mask comes off mid-fight, faux-Hitler nearly wets himself!)
Winslow disappears after saving Churchill, who sends a bronze statue of the Unknown Blackhawk to the team. And he becomes visible--after sneaking onto a ship back to America! One suspended sentence later, Winslow returns to his apartment, and paints it bright orange: "you don't have to confront the enemy to be a hero. You just have to confront yourself." Eh, confronting a Hitler is pretty good, too.
Read more!

Monday, September 26, 2022

She's also in video games now, which I'm sure would befuddle her.

Of course I'll usually grab any complete mini-series out of the quarter bins, but every once in a while a big enough chunk of a series will have to do. (There's always the possibility I have the rest somewhere!) So I ended up with most of the series, but we'll take a gander at "The Devil's Bride!" From 2008, the Twelve #8, written by J.Michael Straczynski, art by Chris Weston.
This was a twelve-issue mini--with a #0 and a #1/2 thrown in to boot--featuring, guh, twelve mystery-men from before Marvel was even Marvel, back when it was Timely. They were part of the Allies' big push on Berlin at the end of the war, but were accidentally trapped in suspended animation until reviving in the present. I suppose it would undermine the narrative if they had too much support, but I don't think Captain America or the android Torch stop by to comfort them any...I also guess, technically it was ten mystery-men, plus a clanker and a skirt: the robot Electro, and the one woman, the original Black Widow. This issue, series narrator the Phantom Reporter confronts her about her "fabled death touch." He does this by breaking into her bedroom at night, and holding a gun on her while she was naked, which is prudent if problematic.
The Widow, Claire Voyant, obligingly tells the Reporter her origin: she had come to Hollywood in what might have been the 20's, not in search of fame, but looking to protect her sister. Who of course falls in with a bad crowd, and gets murdered by her mobster boyfriend. The boyfriend was connected and skates, leaving Claire to make a furious wish at her sister's grave to avenge her. A wish that is answered, by a dark voice seemingly from hell; that offers her a choice and a job: to touch the so-called untouchables, and send their souls to the torment they deserve now rather than later. It feels slightly more thought out than Ghost Rider's incessant "Vengeance!" but I don't know if it's ever been dug into further than that, and I'm not sure it should be; she needs the mystery. Claire offed the boyfriend, and had been killing bad guys ever since. She tells this to the Reporter, just to let him know she wasn't who he was looking for; but also because she'd never told anyone.
The crux of the series is that all these mystery-men, who had little to no characterization prior, are largely just as conflicted and messed-up as everybody else, in the mighty Marvel Timely manner. Also this issue: the cops question Fiery Mask, poking some holes in both his alibi and his origin story. In Hollywood, the Blue Blade hopes to use Electro as a foothold to launch himself into stardom, but accidentally activates the robot's memory and learns a secret about one of his compatriots. Master Mind Excello has left, but left letters behind for his friends, suggesting the future might be unfolding for him and they all had a part; and that he had bailed the Laughing Mask out of jail: he had been charged for a murder from back in the 40's. Rockman comes out of the basement, claiming his subterranean people would be coming for him soon; which may or may not be brain damage and trauma. And Blue Blade has a visit with Dynamic Man, about the secret he discovered: Dynamic Man had probably adapted to the present better than the rest, since he was very much a cop, in the worst sense of the word, kind of an authoritarian jerk who was often uncomfortable or short around anybody who wasn't a straight white man. So I kind of felt Straczynski showed his hand a little with this meeting, but Dynamic Man's secrets go deeper than that.
Claire's a playable character in the Marvel Contest of Champions game: I don't have a super-great one of her, nor am I sure if she's rare, or any good. The series almost seems to be going in a different direction with her early on: a goth girl looks up to her, as like the original goth girl. Her end in this one isn't bad, just a little traditional maybe. Read more!

Friday, September 23, 2022

If you ever listen to the old Captain America Power Record, Solarr gets a shout-out, as a suspect for Cap's new foe, the Phoenix. Despite having listened to that a million times, I'm not sure I'd ever read a comic with Solarr, until his recent loss in X-Men '92: House of XCII #3. (What's the reverse of a ringer?) But, I guess I had this one waiting for me: from 1982, Marvel Team-Up #123, "Rivers of Blood" Written by J. M. DeMatteis, pencils by Kerry Gammill, inks by Mike Esposito. 

There wasn't always a lot of continuity between issues here, but Spider-Man took a beating the previous issue against Man-Thing, which lands him in the hospital. Upon regaining consciousness, Spidey claims he heals quick, but is still in no shape for hopping about; so he's still there to see a young stab victim, then Matt Murdock, who's representing a mob hitman turning state's evidence. Unfortunately, Solarr has taken the job to silence the hitman; since he had recently escaped from a long stint as research subject at Project: Pegasus and needed to rebuild his rep. Still, getting trounced by Spidey and Daredevil? Not helping his rep any. Spidey tricks him into zapping a water tower, then beats him unconscious before he can dry off; which I'm not positive he even needed to do? He wasn't like the Human Torch! 

There is a little drama, when the hitman panics and decides to take a hostage, rather than risk being burned alive by Solarr: that's derailed when DD reminds him of something he told Matt Murdock, about the blood on his hands. Now literal, since his hostage was bleeding all over the damn place. That seems like the sort of thing where maybe, in a movie or something, the hitman might put two and two together and figure out DD's secret identity; but here the toughened, grizzled hitman appears to have a psychotic break instead, so small chance of that.  
Read more!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

I think I always start with the back cover.

The front cover has the bar code, right? Ah, let's just do this: from 1994, Marvel Comics Presents #158, opening with the ClanDestine preview "Scare Tactics" Written and penciled by Alan Davis, inks by Mark Farmer. Fighting an array of robots, youngsters Rory and Pandora are gung-ho, until they're crushed! The Hulk-ish Walter is furious with Woody Allen-lookalike Newton; since this was supposed to be a Danger Room-style training session to scare the kids out of superheroing, but they survive and thrive...which makes the rest of the family concerned they would be discovered. This issue might've been discovered by scalpers, after the ClanDestine's somewhat baffling appearance on Disney's Ms. Marvel show, but I wrote the rest of this post before that!
Next, know, Kymaera? OK, Namorita, from when she was blue! She wasn't thrilled about it either, and was trying to get to geneticist Matrix to maybe get changed back. I'm not sure how exactly that was going to happen, or how she was going to convince Matrix to do that, since the cape-wearing drama queen scuttles her sub and abandons her crew to get away. Kymaera saves the crew and turns them over to the Coast Guard, but laments she may never be what she was...Of course she'd get changed back at some point there. ("Reversal of Fortune, part 4 of 4" Story and art by Ed Lazellari, inks by Joe Rosas.)
Under the other cover, we find yet another middle chapter of a Vengeance serial--good grief, I'll see how one ends someday. Michael Badilino has fallen prey to the old "give up my powers, oh wait, now they're being misused and I have to take them back" plot. Phantome is now rampaging through the city as a knockoff of Vengeance, which makes her a knockoff of a knockoff of Ghost Rider; while her old thug Gargantua tries to get Michael to save his boss and change her back. After she melts a homeless guy's face (!) and tries the same on Michael, he realizes he still has her powers; Phantome just manifested her own somehow. With multiple deaths (including Gargantua, apparently) she realizes she'd lost it, but with her and Vengeance surrounded by fuel cannisters on a burning pier, it may be too little, too late! ("Altered Spirits, part 3 of 4, Fire and Blood" Written by Chris Cooper, pencils by Reggie Jones, inks by Fred Harper.)
Lastly, the conclusion of a Shang-Chi three-parter, "The Gauntlet" Written by Karl Bollers, pencils by Cary Nord, inks by Bambos Gorgio. Shang manages to rescue Leiko, but is then drugged by Lazarus, then has a flashback to his childhood and another ordeal at the hands of Fu Manchu nope, he's just referred to as "my father" here, multiple times! Shang's dad tries to force him to kill and fails, but that doesn't save the victim. Shang comes back to end the gauntlet with the "silent shout," which doesn't seem to be one he uses often? Ever?
Read more!

Wednesday, September 21, 2022


Longtime Quasar readers and vile speculators may both recall Quasar #6, an Acts of Vengeance crossover and a fairly early Venom appearance. Venom isn't even jobbed out, he's picked up like he's a lost toddler at a mall: Quasar's power-set is just too far above him, like Green Lantern vs. Bane. He gets put in a bubble and done. Actually, thinking about it for a second, Quasar could wrap up 90, 95% of Spider-Man villains with zero problems. Unless you count something like the Green Goblin throwing a pumpkin bomb in his bubble and blowing his own goddamn head off or something.

For Moon Knight, it took me a second to recall it was Marc Spector that used to be CIA. He's more matter-of-fact than a relative boy scout like Quasar would be, though: especially since it's pretty easy for Quasar to bring them in alive, and whatever happens to them after happens. He doesn't get his hands as dirty, or stick around for that part!
Read more!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

I haven't had cable for years or Netflix for a while, so I can't recall if I watched all four seasons of Wynonna Earp or not; but I'd never picked up an issue of the comic until a recent quarter-box find: from 1997, Wynonna Earp #2, "The Bloody Badge of the Law" Created and written by Beau Smith, pencils by Joyce Chin, inks by Mark Irwin.
Enh, it's OK, although the art is Image-standard for the time: Wynonna's legs go on for miles, and I'm pretty sure company-wide there were more different body types portrayed for werewolves than for women. I don't think she started as a U.S. Marshall on her show, but here she's a full-fledged one, on the case of vampire druglord Bobo del Rey, who might've been the big-bad for the first season or two. After shutting down the local watering hole for pushing the vampire drug "hemo" (which appeared to kill most of its users, not a great business model) she gets Bobo's attention, and he sends two of his vampire boys to bring her to him. They get hacked to bits, but when she goes to have a look at the local trailer park, another pair get the best of her. Luckily, a pair of werewolves don't seem to be on the vampires' side...but are they on Wynonna's?
This series ran for five issues, but I don't know if it had an actual conclusion, or just petered out like some Image titles do. Meanwhile, my folks have been enjoying Resident Alien on SyFy, I don't have the heart to tell them it's probably doomed, don't get attached...I don't know if Happy! was intended to go longer than two seasons, but SyFy has burned me so many times. Ask me about their last episode of Farscape if you want to hear some epic swearing... Read more!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Kurt Busiek's run on Avengers is one of my favorite runs ever, but in a bit of heresy, I prefer the post-George Perez issues, starting with Alan Davis on #38, as events built up to the best Kang story out there. This annual is set in the early part of that, but I'm not sure Kang is even mentioned here, too much else going on! From 2001, Avengers 2001, "The Third Man" Written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Ivan Reis, inks by Scott Hanna.
Yellowjacket is rushed to Avengers Mansion by Wasp and Triathlon, a medical emergency: he had not only lost consciousness, but appeared to be becoming translucent. Photon arrives to get the exposition, and before passing out again, Yellowjacket implores Jan to get the "fake one," Goliath, who Yellowjacket had been holding prisoner in his shrunken "Hornet's Hideout" on the Avengers' front lawn! (Jan wonders if the Hideout has been there all those years--it looks a bit like a frisbee or toy stuck in a tree--but I re-read Avengers #59, and it wasn't there in its first appearance, anyway.) Jan finds the captured Goliath, suffering the same ailment. Dr. Jane Foster had been called in, but was at a loss for this one; so Triathlon floats an idea: he belonged to a Scientology-like group called the Triune Understanding, and healing spiritual rifts was a big part of their line--er, faith--and while the Avengers weren't sure they could trust the Triune's head, Jonathan Tremont, Wasp is out of other options.
At the Triune's compound, Tremont is able to get Yellowjacket and Goliath to confront each other, on a mental plain. Despite ostensibly being the same guy, they couldn't be more different: YJ was brash and impulsive, Goliath more reserved and careful. Both consider the other a fake, a mistake, a waste...they could go on, and do, as they try to smash each other. Monitoring them, Tremont explains the Triune way, that things work in threes: there should be a third part, that's not there. Jan thinks it's her, and has herself sent in to sort things out. But, when Goliath is really over-protective of her, she realizes the problem: he had been scared of hurting her again, so suppressed his emotional side; until Yellowjacket got free after a fight with Kulan Gath. While they're both willing to let Jan make the call, she knows they're going to have to work it out themselves.
Meanwhile, after a visit with Triathlon, where he doesn't want to talk about the Triune for fear of being accused of "recruiting," Photon is surprised to be met by Firestar and Justice, who had gone undercover as Triune members. (Firestar had been pissed at the group for stirring up anti-mutant sentiment, in a smear campaign against the Avengers.) They had found the Triune's secret spaceship: part of their faith involved combatting a threat from space, and the ship appeared to be legit. It was also psychically-powered, and Firestar worried it would kill everyone there if launched...Photon talks to Triathlon again, pointing out she used to be the rookie too, but he would get there.
Yellowjacket and Goliath are forced to confront what they like and don't like about themselves/each other, when they are finally visited by "the third man," an integrated, happy Hank Pym. The three of them come together, and Hank awakes, feeling better than he had in some time. Jan is grateful to Triathlon for the help, and the Avengers get ready to get back into the fight...with Firestar and Justice, still embedded, waiting. That plotline would be wrapped up before too long, though. If memory serves, Hank still stayed Yellowjacket after this (it's not only the best costume, it's more multipurpose) but he was also probably just stable until the next writer...
Also this issue: "House Cleaning" Written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Ian Churchill, inks by Norm Rapmund. Jarvis answers some continuity glitches queries from the Avengers' security liason. One question involves Wasp's inhuman form from Avengers #394, and the answer is pretty much "Franklin Richards put back the toys the way he thought they should be," which included fixing Hawkeye's hearing? I don't know if that stuck, though, or if he re-injured it.   Read more!