Friday, September 29, 2023

Short one today, since I did something I surprisingly don't do enough: sat down with a big stack of comics and plowed through them! Namely, the entire run of IDW's current series Star Trek and Star Trek: Defiant, so I could then read the concluding chapters to their "Day of Blood" crossover: Star Trek: Defiant #7, Star Trek: Shax's Best Day and Star Trek #12.
I don't have the stardates in front of me, but these are set sometime between Insurrection and Nemesis, as Captain Benjamin Sisko returns from the wormhole/"Celestial Temple" with a new mission: someone, or something, is killing gods. Writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing get to play with a lot of the toys: Sisko gets a new ship put together by Scotty, and his crew includes Data, Crusher, Tom Paris, and briefly Worf. Worf gets his own ship and crew midway through with the Defiant spin-off, as he and Sisko are at odds with how to stop the bad guy, and Worf gets Spock, Lore, B'Elanna Torres, and Ro Laren. But, Worf leaving also leaves a spot open for a newer character: Lt. Shax from Lower Decks, who gets a great solo issue! That's in animated style, while we also see a...detooned? version elsewhere.
The two series build up to...hey, wait a minute! IDW calls "Day of Blood" "the first ever Star Trek comic book event!" You mean, like a crossover? Through multiple titles, with a one-shot to kick it off? Marvel did that back in '97 with Telepathy War #1! I liked that one, but this new one's pretty good as well. BTW, even if you aren't a fan of Lower Decks (and the current season's been pretty strong!) Chris Westlake has a very Trek soundtrack going for it. Credits after the break! In posting order, Star Trek #12, "Day of Blood, part five" Written by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, art by Angel Unzueta; Star Trek: Shax's Best Day, "Shax's Best Day!" Written by Ryan North, art by Derek Charm; and Star Trek: Defiant #7, "Day of Blood, part 4" Written by Christopher Cantwell, art by Angel Unzueta. Tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but with a title like "Day of Blood" you maybe don't have to be the hardest of hardcore fans to guess a little... Read more!

Thursday, September 28, 2023

I probably won't have back-to-back Dredd posts, especially since this is one I think I've considered blogging about before, then held off...since it's really mean, guys. Like, trigger warnings mean. But, we need to talk about the layout of a Mega-City kitchen, my delightful speaking voice, and a hopefully apocryphal tale of a college radio station! From 1993, Dredd Rules! #18, reprinting "Talkback" from 1991's 2000 AD #740, written by Garth Ennis, art by Glenn Fabry.
As a senior Judge, Dredd would of course be called in on a puzzler like this one, a locked-room mystery: superstar DJ Cool Johnny Cool, in his own home, shoved into the garbage grinder. Another Judge suggests the obvious, suicide; but it didn't seem likely to Dredd: "He comes home...makes himself a cup of sythi-caff all nice and calm...then takes a header down the garbage grinder?" I don't know, I've never lived anywhere with a garbage disposal, or a grinder that would chew up an entire body. I've certainly never lived anywhere with a TV above said grinder, either! There's like zero safety features; that thing looks like it'd be dangerous in a slaughterhouse. Dredd calls in Psi-Division, but instead of the usual Anderson he gets Judge Palmer, who seems as green as grass, but admittedly being told to find a clue in the human remains bucket is a tough day at the office for anybody. Surprisingly, Palmer does get a hit, bowled over by "the hate."
We then flashback a few days, for the sad end of Cool Johnny Cool, DJ douchebag. An unfortunate accident in the radio station's bathroom gives him a bump on the head, and soon thereafter he would start hearing the voices. No one else heard, but Johnny; voices telling him how much he sucked and how he should kill himself, as soon as possible. And Johnny, seemingly almost in a trance, tries to throw himself out a window, drown himself in the toilet, drink a cocktail of household cleaners...Johnny's boss gives him some time off, and suggests he see a doctor; but the voices follow him home, getting louder and stronger: "TELL YOU WHAT, HOW ABOUT YOU JUST THROW YOURSELF IN THE GRUDDAM GARBAGE GRINDER, COOL JOHNNY COOL!"
Palmer explains what happened: Johnny must have been a latent psi, and the bump on the noggin triggered abilities in him. Namely, picking up on what everyone in Mega-City One thought of him, which drove him to his death. Staggered, Palmer wonders who could deserve something like that...for about three seconds, until Dredd puts on a tape of Cool Johnny Cool's show.
Mean, so mean! Maybe not entirely inaccurate, but still. Dale will back me up on this: I have a delightful voice, honed from entirely too many years on the phone, where I was often told I had a face--er, voice, for radio. But I hate morning shows and talky DJ's! I would be a caveman of a DJ: "That was songs. Here more songs." Sadly, I missed a brief window in college when a local station was first established--and wannabes were probably fighting way harder than I'd care to for airtime; I would not have had the competitive drive for that. Also, and I should preface this by saying I'm not positive this is true, but I'm pretty sure: I was a casual acquaintance and occasional co-worker with a guy that was one of the college station's founders. I hadn't seen him for a while, and when I ran into a mutual friend, I asked where he had been: apparently, after a bad break-up, he had locked himself in the station, and told everyone in broadcast distance what he thought of her, the town, everything. The way that story was told to me, made it sound like a bell tower shooting, only over radio. Anyway, that's a little story that hopefully didn't happen but I kinda think probably did. Read more!

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

"Dealing."

I think the last thing Gwenpool was in involved Julie Power and setting Gwen up as kind of an asexual icon; but I'm positive she's not going to get to play any sort of role in the current Fall of Krakoa stuff, since that feels pretty serious for a modern comic and won't have any space for about the funnest character in recent memory. Ooh, actually, the last thing I remember seeing her in was the trade for the 2020 Kelly Thompson Deadpool series, where a teary Gwen kinda knows she's being written out and wants to make sure Jeff the land shark has a good home, so gives him to Pool. It's meta-depressing, and while I love Jeff I'm not sure I'm thrilled that he's more popular than Gwen now. (That whole run was interesting, but also felt like they thought they were going to have all the time in the world for plots, and instead a new direction and writer started after maybe ten issues.) Anyway, I miss that weird little girl; I don't miss the pink and yellow fills!

Dogpool doesn't get any lines, but he's basically intended to sit on the back of Deadpool's scooter, and not much else. Lady Deadpool didn't have a ton of range, either: in Gwen's last panel, I had been trying to get Lady petting Dogpool in there, but no dice. Still, I can't believe Marvel hasn't got Deadpool Corps rings out there: just feels like an easy lay-up for Marvel.

Also, conveniently enough, Gwen's robot staff was actually from a NYC comic shop: I got  the Nacelle Company's Robo Force Maxx Steel and Wrecker from Forbidden Planet NYC for a song! I wasn't overly familiar with the old Robo Force line, but these are nice figures with weird suction cup feet. They feel like they were made by fans of the old toys, for fans.

Speaking of for fans, the Ciegrimites are of course from Bob Layton's Hercules, still pound-for-pound one of the most entertaining mini-series Marvel ever did. They were little snail guys, brewers and distillers, and I kinda feel like a lot of the universe would rally to their defense when they need it.
Read more!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

I was going to guess Rosemary's Baby ruined these twist endings for like 3 years; it maybe was closer to 8.

An oddly not-Comics Code Approved issue from 1976: House of Mystery #244, featuring "Kronos -- Zagros -- Eborak!" Written by George Kashdan, art by Frank Thorne; and "Your Epitaph Is Only a Birthday Card" Written by Doug Moench, art by Frank (Franc) Reyes.
The state attorney general puts a special investigator on the case of possible Satan worshippers...for reasons? The investigator thinks it's a load, and the A.G.'s niece might as well be investigating instead of him; then promptly takes a drugged drink and gets hypnotized to murder the A.G. He resists at first, but while trying to avoid the guy, the niece accidentally sends him to the gym he was at late, and in a trance he kills the A.G. Yes..."accidentally."
Weirdly, there's only one more full story this issue, a reincarnation number from Doug Moench, "Your Epitaph Is Only a Birthday Card." Two men in a hospital waiting room debate reincarnation, while elsewhere a barbarian's quest for gold comes to a bad end. What does it mean? Um... Read more!

Monday, September 25, 2023

I'd say Magilla Gorilla was pretty far down the depth chart, but there's a heel-turn from like a sixth banana...

This was a mostly fun little one-shot, with a couple surprisingly affecting beats, that probably couldn't have been told "straight" in the mainstream DCU: from 2018, Nightwing/Magilla Gorilla #1, "A Shrewdness of Apes" Written by Heath Corson, pencils by Tom Grummett and Tom Derenick, inks by Cam Smith and Andy Owens.
Dick Grayson leaves the gloom of Gotham and Bludhaven behind today, for a trip to sunny Malibu, since agent Mel Peebles had been calling and calling to set up a meeting with his boss, one of the major actors of our time, none other than...Magilla Gorilla? Was he an actor in his cartoon? I can hear "Magilla, Gorilla, gorilla for sale" in my head; and that's all I've got. Dick is a fan, and likewise: Magilla has set up a circus tent, emblazoned with "the Flying Graysons," since he wanted to write, direct, and star in a Flying Graysons movie, as Dick's father John. Still, despite the promise of a producer's credit and back-end profits, Dick declines, saying he wasn't ready to see his family's story as a movie. Although he had seemed suave and refined, after Dick leaves he can hear Magilla lose his temper with Peebles...and later that night, news breaks that Peebles had been murdered, with Magilla Gorilla as the prime suspect! Nightwing has to work the case, which involves the usual Hollywood dirt like a sister with a drug habit, a visit to Madame Xanadu, and the realization that Magilla wasn't the only gorilla in Hollywood: there was also young upstart Grape Ape!
Dick sees a lot of himself in Magilla, mainly in his relationship with his adopted father Peebles and his mentorship of Grape Ape; while Magilla also can tell Dick was Nightwing just by scent. Also this issue: part three of a J.M. DeMatteis/Tom Mandrake Secret Squirrel serial, that would wrap up in Superman/Top Cat #1. Read more!

Friday, September 22, 2023

I was thinking about DC's Elseworlds annuals when I pulled this one out of the box, but it was another Legends of the Dead Earth one. From 1996, Superman: the Man of Steel Annual #6, "The Never-Ending Battle" Written by Kurt Busiek, layouts by Paul Ryan, finishes by Joe Rubinstein.
On a far-off planet, under a red sun, young fisherman Kaleb is possibly the only survivor of an alien invasion, rescued by other aliens: a human-looking science team, that seem interested in him as well. He gets injured, along with a pretty science officer, but after they manage to escape Kaleb is healed remarkably quickly, under a bank of lights. The officer, Lang, was still injured, though: Kaleb had healed because he could be a potential Superman. Which hints at why his people were wiped out, by the Empire. (Not that one!) Kaleb gets the usual super powers, but the Empire ships aren't pushovers: they seem to know what his weaknesses would be. The commanding officer uses that as a teachable moment: Kaleb wasn't immortal, and victory wasn't assured, but he won't abandon them...mainly because of Lang.
The new Superman and Lang are a couple fairly quickly, as much as they can be during wartime; and are sent undercover to the center of the Empire, Metropole. Kaleb enters the annual games to become part of the Imperial Guard (not that one, either!) but is outed as Superman, then trapped by energy-draining cables and beat down. All according to plan, as that gets him to the emperor: Lex Luthor. The 60th, having transplanted himself to a new clone body over and over. This Lex was a bit on in years, and seems to think Kaleb was the original Superman reborn or resurrected again: he won't be fooled by the "death" of Superman again. But, Lex had assumed Superman would be working alone; and wasn't prepared for Lang and the others to help out. When the fight reaches a stalemate and more imperial reinforcements on the way, Kaleb hurts Lex the only way he can: destroying the new clone body he had just about cooked to perfection!
Superman and Lang had also stolen the "Krypton protocols" from Lex, and find another planet, of peaceful farmers living harmlessly under a red sun. Should they be recruited to destroy the Empire? Or destroyed themselves before they go bad? Kaleb knows it would be nice to have help, but couldn't ask or force anyone into it, and convinces them to leave the farmers alone. But he does visit that planet, before the final battle against Lex's empire, so Lang could safely have their baby, under a red sun.
We've only seen one of the other Superman LotDE annuals here, Action Comics Annual #8, featuring Bizarro. There's an Adventures one that I'm pretty sure is an alien getting possessed like the Eradicator, and a "League of Supermen!" in the Superman Annual. I feel like I've read that one: a bunch of humans are given one power each, but I think one of them turns on the others...But, I don't think I had read this issue before now, so glad I grabbed it! Read more!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

This seems like a problem that should come up again...no? Alright, then.

I don't spend as much time in my garage as I would like, but the rental place told me they were replacing the garage door, but neglected to mention the guy would need some room to work on it...how the hell would I know, I've never replaced a garage door before? They could just snap on for all I know. So I have to move some stuff, which is of course a colossal pain in the ass, but I did dig this one out of there...and we've blogged half of it before, but since I mentioned it the other day with Cr'reee, let's go ahead with 1989's Judge Dredd #30, reprinting "Gribligs" from 1986's 2000 AD #464-465, written by "T.B. Grover" (really John Wagner and Alan Grant!) and art by Barry Kitson.
A spaceliner steward is caught with snuff videos, and tries to get a lighter sentence by snitching on his crewmates: has that ever worked in Mega-City One? Snitching doesn't get you a lighter sentence, it gets you years added on for not mentioning those crimes before. One of the crew members is visiting his girl, with his new alien pets, a pair of "Gribligs." They seem like clever little devils--too clever, as they work out how to escape their cages as soon as they aren't being watched. They were also being kept separate for a reason: they breed like Tribbles, and are a couple dozen strong by morning. The crew member panics, since without an import license he would be looking at serious cube time, and starts hacking Gribligs up with a decorative sword from the wall, but catches his girlfriend in the backswing, killing her. While he was distraught over the body, the Gribligs knock him down, push something heavy off a top shelf onto his head, then adorably celebrate their little murder.
Having arrested most of the spaceliner's crew for assorted and sundry crimes, Dredd tracks down the last one, and finds the bodies, stripped down to the bone by the now hundreds of Gribligs. Dredd calls Control to get more information, and brings in pest control to gas the buggers. (And himself; Dredd has to stay in with his helmet respirator.) Dredd doesn't reckon on their cleverness, though; as a few Gribligs escape the gas by flushing themselves down the toilet! A month later, a Griblig is spotted loose in the city, and if there's one, well, they were probably "here to stay!" Of course, I don't think they appeared again until maybe 2004, but honestly Mega-City One was probably a challenge even for their breeding abilities; it's not safe there. Read more!

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

"Sell."

What, we're coming back on something we set up earlier? How often does that happen? 

So I don't think I got to read any of the big Cosmic Cube stories as a kid, since by that time they were up to the weird ones, like Captain America Annual #7 or the Fantastic Four issues with Kubik--actually, looking at that cover, I'm not positive I've read that one, it would've been a fill-in to give Walt Simonson breathing room after FF #350! I want to say the Super-Adaptoid goes on about the Cubes in Avengers #290 as well, and the Englehart Fantastic Four #319 "Secret Wars III" ends with the Beyonder and the Molecule Man turned into a Cosmic Cube, never to be seen or heard from ever, ever again. My understanding is, A.I.M. and others might still be able to make them; but the Cubes eventually turn into like the Shaper of Worlds or something and are usually kind of pissed about being enslaved for however long.

Also, can anybody identify our Cube-customer? I think I got him at a yard sale or something and have no goddamn idea what he is. Ah, a quick search found him this time: Edgar, from Men in Black! I didn't get him with the little slimed figures that fit inside him, but, um, that's okay.
Read more!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

I can't tell if it's more or less cliche for the arranged bride-to-be to be beautiful or not...


By the time I started reading Warlord regularly, King Aram Al Ashir was relegated to the lower tier of the book's supporting characters, behind Rostov the Werewolf and Mongo Ironhand. But I did pick up more of his appearances much, much later; like today's book! From 1980, Warlord #40, "The Brotherhood of Death" Story and pencils by Mike Grell, inks by Vince Colletta.

Morgan and Shakira arrive in the kingdom of Kaambuka, where Morgan's friend Ashir has recently taken his crown, and immediately regretted it. Surrounded by enemies within his royal court and outside it, he was also looking down the barrel of a more horrible fate: marriage. It's a marriage of state, and Ashir is positive it's going to be to a beast; Travis tries to encourage him by pointing out maybe he'll be killed first. In that vein, Ashir suggests a royal hunt before the wedding; which is more dangerous than usual even for Skartaris, since a hooded figure plants a mystic talisman on Ashir that makes a saber-tooth tiger go after him.

Later, back at the castle, Morgan, Ashir, and Shakira are ambushed by Ashir's own royal guard; and kill the hell out of them. Ashir notes maybe there's a bit more resentment towards him than he'd expected, but is thrilled to have enemies. It is something to do. But his spirit is crushed again by the announcement of the arrival of his bride--who, surprisingly, is beautiful.

Since it's Tara, Morgan's wife! EDIT: Good news, we blogged the next issue earlier this year, when I was all mad at Danger Street. Which is still running? Ugh, I'm not checking back in on it.

For a change, the back-up feature this issue ties into the main story! Machiste and Mariah are still in the distant past of "Wizard World," but might be able to return to the present since Mongo Ironhand just found the Necronomicon! Which is immediately stolen by a rival wizard, Zaargon. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't turn out the way he wanted, but that would take about 26 issues to wrap up!
Read more!

Monday, September 18, 2023

Why the hell was this called "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and not "Morgiana ENDS the Forty Thieves."

For some reason when I grabbed this off the quarter-rack, I was sure there would be Big John Buscema art in there, but nope! From 1977, Marvel Classics Comics #30--the Arabian Nights, adapted by Doug Moench, art by Yong MontaƱo.
By now everybody's got a passing familiarity with the high points in the stories compiled into the Arabian Nights, like Sinbad the Sailor, Aladdin's lamp, "Open Sesame." The framing device may be a little less known in western culture: a king marries a new bride every night, and kills them every morning. In some versions, the king had been cheated on by his first wife, and did this to prevent future infidelity; this Marvel version doesn't really get into that: the king likes a story every night, but still kills his bride/storyteller in the morning, until the clever Scheherazade braves it, to either save others or die herself. Scheherazade spins multiple yarns, using cliffhangers and hype ("That story wasn't bad, but it's nothing compared to my next one...") to keep getting her execution postponed, until she eventually convinces the king to spare her life, after one thousand and one nights. They had multiple kids together by that point! In this version, the king says he pardoned her back around night four: did you let her keep sweating it? Dick!
But it was the adaptation of Ali Baba that got me, since I did not know that story as well as I would've thought; or the versions I had seen had taken some liberties. Ali was a poor firewood seller, who one day out in the woods hides when he hears bandits: the forty thieves, who stash their ill-gotten loot in a cave, hidden by the magic words "Open, Sesame!" OK, this I knew already, but then we meet a bunch of other characters that I don't think are usually in western adaptations like Harryhausen movies or Bugs Bunny cartoons; and each one is crafty! Ali's wife goes to borrow some scales, to measure out how much gold Ali had got; and her sister-in-law is like, what does that bitch have that's worth weighing? She smears wax and fat on the scales, and when the scales are returned, a gold coin is stuck to it; so she goes straight to her husband, Ali's brother Kassim, steamed that they didn't have so much gold they had to weigh it! Kassim confronts Ali and threatens to narc him out, so Ali tells him about the cave and the magic words. Which Kassim forgets when he's in the cave. (Do barley, wheat, and corn sound similar to sesame in Arabic, or was he dumb? Well, this may set a precedent for forgetting the magic word.) Kassim is found by the forty thieves and killed, the body left as a warning; but Ali takes the corpse to be buried, and here we meet the real hero of the piece: Kassim's slave girl, Morgiana.
Morgiana takes pains to make it seem like Kassim was going to die of natural, not-stab-related causes; then to get her dead master buried without anyone working on it knowing who or where they were burying anything. Ali and his family then move into Kassim's, but the leader of the forty thieves still suspects someone knows, and goes to the shroud-maker, who for the right price is willing to retrace the steps he had taken blindfolded. Morgiana manages to misdirect him once, but the leader then pretends to be an oil merchant--with the forty thieves hiding in clay jars--and manages to get invited into Ali Baba's for the night. The plan goes awry, when the kitchen staff runs out of oil and goes to borrow some, and one of the jars asks if it was time yet...? Thinking quickly, Morgiana advises in a fake-man's voice "not yet," then heats up the one jar that actually had oil, and dumps oil in with each of the thieves, killing them all horribly. She later kills the head thief, shanking him after a dance! To his credit, Ali had already freed Morgiana at that point, but she stuck around because she wanted Ali's nephew, and they are wed in the end. Treat her right, man. Technically, "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" wasn't even originally part of the Arabian Nights; but added by a French translator later. Too bad, because narratively, I can kinda see why Scheherazade would open with a story where a slave straight-up murders forty men. Read more!

Friday, September 15, 2023

A couple from the (anti) socials...

Even though I have like zero reach, I still post some stuff on ugh...X, although I'm trying to jump ship and haven't been able to entirely yet. But, here's a couple short ones that ended up there.
It's probably been long enough that I can talk about this, and I apologize if I've complained about it here before: I hated like the last six or eight issues of Zdarsky's Daredevil run. There was a bit there where Matt was building an army and looking into rehabilitation and redemption in what could have been an interesting way, that was seemingly dropped like it was hot. Ditto the Hand/Fist war and the Punisher: kinda seemed like they wanted to build up to end Frank's story there, and then didn't, so the whole thing felt like a wet squibb. There was also a weird retcon with this guy that supposedly was controlling Matt's destiny, and I honestly can not recall if that plot went anywhere either. And Matt's getting a Marvel Legend in his beardy look from this run: do not want; probably won't end up building a Mindless One. Elektra-DD, keep that, though.
Even weirder, looking up old Hostess Fruit Pie ads, Daredevil was in several! The pies are easy enough to make, with a bit of cardboard folded into a pie-like shape put in the middle of the printed wrappers and then taped up. I don't think Twinkies or Hostess Cup Cakes would look right like that, though; so none of those yet. Read more!