Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Sorry, your princess is in...excruciating pain!

A downside to my blogging technique is that I sometimes pick up a bunch of issues of a particular title at once, but I don't want to blog them all at once, right? Which sometimes leads to me not reading half of, or even any, of said bunch! For example, I picked up a bunch of Legion and a Showcase volume, and I still have most of them unread. Somehow I think I thought I had just done a bunch of Legion posts; which I'm not sure was actually the case, but whatever. Here's one I thought we'd hit before, but now's as good a time as any: from 1975, Superboy (starring the Legion of Super-Heroes) #209, "Who Can Save the Princess?" Written by Jim Shooter, art by Mike Grell.
Princess Projectra nearly plows a Legion cruiser right into headquarters, stopped only by Timber Wolf and some quick lasso work; but while he and Karate Kid would've probably written that off to women drivers, it's worse than that. She collapses, and Brainiac 5 makes a remote diagnosis: she had contracted the dreaded "pain plague." While the fever it caused wasn't fatal, it did cause six hours of blinding pain that did kill; but Brainy talks them through a treatment: Projectra had already suffered through two hours, and if T-Wolf, Karate Kid, and Saturn Girl can each take an hour of her pain, Superboy would be back on earth in time to cover the last hour. Seems reasonable enough, but the flaw becomes apparent, as T-Wolf goes berserk.
After subduing T-Wolf (and changing to his new costume going forward!) Karate Kid suggests he could take two hours, since the pain was getting worse each hour. Saturn Girl is unwilling to let him risk himself, but her mental powers could be a problem: she could turn on him, Projectra, anyone. She has to be bound and gagged in an anti-telepathy helmet for her hour; which kind of feels like a fetish for someone. Superboy arrives after Karate Kid had taken his hour, in stoic meditation; but Superboy realizes, his invulnerability is protecting him, and he can't take Projectra's pain. As Superboy scrambles to try and find a fix, Karate Kid drags himself to try and save his love by sacrificing himself for the last hour, but is stopped by the sudden return of reserve member Duo Damsel! Who then attacks herself, forcing Superboy to keep them separated for an hour. (DD had a crush on Superboy that didn't pan out, so she was probably okay with that one!)
Also this issue: "Hero For a Day" Written by Cary Bates, art by Mike Grell. Young Flynt Brojj was the number-one fundraiser for the U.P. charity drive, and wins a day with the Legion. And what better place to start the tour than...the mailroom, basically. Just in time for some joker to ship them a dreaded "witch-wolf!" The witch-wolf gave off "an invisible poisonous radiation" that turned someone's greatest ability against them, and it downs Cosmic Boy, Wildfire, and Shrinking Violet as they try to teleport it away. Luckily, Flynt has realized something: after his borrowed Legion flight ring fell off, he couldn't see the witch-wolf anymore. It was a trick of hypnosis, transmitted through the rings. Seems like that's something the team'd need to follow up on, but nah, Flynt gets his moment of glory, and that's good enough.
Also also this issue: a USPS statement of ownership. Average number of copies sold during preceding 12 months (total paid circulation): 225,427. Actual number sold for issue nearest filing date (total paid circulation): 260,480. Read more!

Monday, January 30, 2023

I thought this was an OK issue, until they mentioned Michael Golden was supposed to be there!

This was a pretty good crew to cobble an issue together, though! From 1982, Doctor Strange #54, "Alone!" Written by Roger Stern and J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Paul Smith and Brent Anderson, inks by Terry Austin and Joe Rubenstein.
The letters page mentions a delay in the arrival of Michael Golden, so instead Stern/Smith/Austin deliver a framing sequence and DeMatteis/Anderson/Rubenstein a flashback; as Strange laments Clea leaving him to return to her Dark Dimension and fight Umar. He's more concerned over his lost lover than losing her as an apprentice; while wondering if combining the two had been a good idea.
In the flashback, Strange remembers about a year prior, as he and Clea worked to save a young man who claimed his ego was being stolen. Strange eventually realizes he had faced the bad guy before: Tiboro, from Strange Tales #129, who had been able to convince several disciples to surrender their will to him, giving him power. Strange knows the fullness of humanity is more than he can take, though, and turns him to stone. When the fight was over, Clea has a bit of a laugh with Strange, suggesting she liked the way an unconscious cultist kept his mustache, and Stephen should try that look again.
Strange, unwilling to let things with Clea end, tries to teleport to the Dark Dimension, but fails. Was it due to a lack of concentration? Or did Strange know, deep down, that wasn't where he was supposed to be? It would have to be pretty deep down, for that kinda insight out of him. Read more!

Friday, January 27, 2023

Well, he's not peeing on anything, that's a plus.

Am I just gettting around to reading this now? Because I mentioned it about a year ago, some black-and-white horror mags I picked up while looking for Monsters Attack #2. Of course I read it, and then order some more horror mags: comics just lead to more comics. From 1992, Dread of Night #2.
This was part of a short-lived stable of horror B&W magazines from Hamilton Publishing; in fact this was the last issue of this title. I don't think any story stuck in mind with me like "Abracadaver" had, but they aren't terribly made. Maybe not EC Comics good, but not Gold Key bad? It's a sliding scale...
Highlights include "The Wolf Woman of Roxbury," in which a merciless slumlord doesn't so much become a beast, as she was one already; and "Monsters 101," where a monsters' club gets word of a professor's planned lecture, that they think would mock them. Maybe a smidge, but not in the way they would've thought. ("Wolf Woman" Written by Link Yaco, art by John Heebink; "Monsters 101" Written by Nart Gertler, art by Batton Lash.)
But, as you can see, Hamilton was doing a good job of trying to cross-sell their titles. Or trying, anyway! This issue was cover-dated February 1992, so I wonder if Grave Tales #3 hadn't already come and gone by the time it hit the stands. The above story, "Role Model" per the GCD was written by Jeff Bailey and Marty Golia, with art by Joe Staton; and along with the obvious Calvin & Hobbes influence, it was also a riff on longtime DC feature Cap's Hobby Center! I've already made the order for that on eBay; we'll maybe see it in another year, the rate I'm going... Read more!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Cloverfield and its first sequel were just on PlutoTV, and then on Twitter they pointed out it was its 15th anniversary. The second sequel was pretty weak; and I think maybe underline the problem with those movies: they introduce a cool idea, just in time for the end. But, instead of those, let's try a comic that's been optioned for a film, so check it out first: from 2020, Kaiju Score #1, "Rattlesnake in the Bag" Written by James Patrick, art by Rem Broo.
The elevator pitch for this one is a Tarentino-style heist movie versus Godzilla: a heist planner realizes global warming is going to bring a bigger than usual kaiju season to Florida, which can be used as cover for a museum job. There are, of course, complications: the planner's reputation is shot after two grandiose jobs that fell apart after missing a tiny detail. The safecracker opts out of taking a loser score like this, but is then murdered by a woman who disguises herself to take the job. The tech guy's a hard-luck disaster: good at his job, but not getting any breaks. And the loan shark fronting the seed money puts his mouthy gunsel on the team to run herd on it. And remind them what'll happen if they fail...
The kaiju Mujara makes landfall, which convinces the loan shark to take a chance on the job. (Incidentally, I saw Shin Ultraman last week, and there's a brief moment where a kaiju is given an official designation, which is described as done by whim from upstairs...) A kaiju landfall is only slightly different than a hurricane would've been, in that all emergency personnel except the National Guard would be evacuated, and they would be maintaining a perimeter around the monster: this is written as not their first rodeo, they've seen that movie before! 

This is a solid first issue, and there would be a sequel series just recently, Kaiju Score: Steal from Gods.
Read more!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023


The infamous "Thunderbolts code" returns! It's basically "bro's before hoes" except just for former Thunderbolts: a request for help or often resupply, no questions asked, regardless of whether it's a pain in the ass or not. So far, I think it's always worked; although it's often invoked after the fact. Read more!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Another wrestler gets their name stolen? What are the odds of that?

Sadly, that's not all she loses here. From 1986, The Thing #33, "Battle of the Sexes!" Written by Michael Carlin, breakdowns by Ron Wilson, finishes by Kim DeMulder. 

Up-and-coming Unlimited Class Wrestling's Battleaxe defeats the old champion, Titania: not the new one from Secret Wars, but the Grappler who had been giving the Thing trouble since 1979's Marvel Two-in-One #54. Despite her long career as a female wrestler and supervillain thug, she seems to lose to the similarly super-strong Battleaxe fair and square; but tries to keep the fight going after the match is called. Ben considered her a bad egg, and breaks it up, which seems to draw Battleax's interest. (Ben's watching the match with his pal and future D-Man, Dennis Dunphy! Who clams up a bit when Ben wonders where all the super-strong types have been coming from...)
Although she had gone straight, Titania and her teammates were still looked down upon for their criminal records, and she was losing whatever support she had. Hitting the showers, Titania is then gunned down by "Golddigger," who may have been the "Scourge of the Underworld," or a Scourge. The disguise-wearing shooters had killed a number of (low-end) super-villains, and this might've been the first clue there was more than one of them. Offhand, I forget how many of the Scourge victims were actually committing or wanted for crimes at the time of their executions; but Titania had served her time. Unless she had perhaps committed crimes she had never been charged for, but that might be giving Scourge (and that storyline) too much credit; and she was pretty much getting killed off to make way for the new version anyway.
"Golddigger" makes her escape, past Ben, claiming a man had shot Titania and run off. Battleaxe and the other lady wrestlers turn on Ben when he tries to leave and they try to keep him there; and Sharon Ventura tries to leap into the dogpile to help him, despite the fact that she did not have super-strength--yet. The Grappler's agent, Auntie Freeze, notices her moxie, and thinks she might be able to use her. She gives Sharon a card...that looks like a bumper sticker...with a number to the "Power Broker."

Meanwhile, Battleax takes her case to the UCWF president: she wanted to wrestle the Thing. Ben considers it "sensationalism," and doesn't wanna; but Battleaxe wants to keep working on him. Later at dinner, Sharon thinks Ben should do it, but he says "nobody liked that pipsqueak from 'Taxi' after he stared wrestlin' chicks on TV," a reference to Andy Kaufman, who had died two years prior. Ben comes across as a bit sexist, or at least dated here; as he says he might've had to hit some women bad guys over the years, but hated it. He also forbids her to go see the Power Broker, which goes over as well as you'd expect: Sharon tells Ben she's not interested in him the way he was in her, and she had already called the Power Broker. Steamed, Ben refrains from smashing up the restaurant, but does make a call and agrees to the match with Battleaxe.
Ben's heart isn't in the match, though: he's watching the crowd, looking for Sharon, giving Battleaxe the opportunity to walk all over him. But, Ben realizes she was mad over Titania's death, not really at him. With few other options to get out of it, Ben throws the match; although Battleaxe catches on pretty quickly. But was this going to look bad for him later? And what was the Power Broker's game...and what of Sharon? I feel like there should be soap opera music at the end of this one. And, like a lot of Scourge's victims, the former Titania, Davida DeVito, was brought back by the Hood. But she took a new name: Lascivious. It's not great; but the new Titania was at least forty times stronger, so I could her keeping the name.
Read more!

Monday, January 23, 2023

Sure he lost his name, but he didn't seem to have much of a gimmick.

The interior one wasn't in the best shape, but a double cover on this copy! I mentioned getting a Suicide Squad double-cover some time back, but I don't see that very often. And I like the cover, anyway! From 1985, Superman #406, "The Fight for the Right to be Superman!" Written by Paul Kupperberg, pencils by Irv Novick, inks by Dave Hunt. Cover by Ed Hannigan and Klaus Janson!
Pro wrestler Moe Ramboe is plagued by nightmares: not because of his unfortunate resemblance to Bueno Excellente, but over the loss of his name. In his nightmare, he claims to have wrestled under the name "Superman" for twenty years before the Man of Steel made his debut. (Predating Superboy even, then?) Meanwhile, returning from a space mission, Superman flies through the sun to check out the sunspots and clean himself off; but then when he tries to save a falling airplane, it suddenly seems to be getting heavier on him. Still, his powers seem to check out later.
Moe tells his brother about his dream, and they wonder if it will come true, since Moe had a decent track record, picking Series, Super Bowl, and Stanley Cup champs in his dreams. Is there a way to make a buck off this dream, though? Maybe! With Moe in full rasslin' gear, they approach the mob with a promise to beat Superman--and take back the name--within 24 hours. Superman has another bout of strength loss, and isn't able to figure out why in the Fortress of Solitude; then is mysteriously compelled to fly to an old warehouse, where in the ring, Moe confronts his unknowing foe. And thumps him good!
Overjoyed, Moe wants to tell the world, but his brother considers he might want to keep it a secret, as that could undermine his career as a mob enforcer? Furious, Moe turns on his brother, and the battered Superman stands up, unwilling to let anyone get hurt. But his time, when Moe comes at him, Superman was back to full power! Moe throws in the towel, explaining whenever he could remember his dreams, they would come true; that might've forced Superman to come there and caused all this. Or the sunspots? Or lazy writing? Or something else...? Next month was a Mxyzptlk story, but I'm not sure they were related.
Also this issue: "Can You Stump Superman?" Written by Craig Boldman, pencils by Alex Saviuk, inks by Karl Kesel. At a charity fundraiser, Superman performs various feats, telling the audience someone in the crowd was doing something that was impossible for Kryptonians. But what? There's a fake answer, set up to stop some crooks; but Perry White knows the real one. (My guess, cry over sliced onions!) Read more!

Friday, January 20, 2023

The previous issue had a Hulk blurb and no Hulk; this cover's got Dr. Strange and no Strange...

But three dead Defenders, well, that's probably plenty. From 1978, Defenders #67, "Val in Valhalla, part 2: We, the Unliving..." Plot by David Anthony Kraft; plot, script, and pencils by Ed Hannigan; inks by Bruce Patterson.
We saw the previous chapter some time back, and this chapter opens in Oregon, in a state park where the Hulk has been peacefully hanging out. The Army can't have that, of course; and tries to ambush him with gas. While that doesn't work, they are still more successful than they realize, as the Hulk has a heart attack and dies! Since they didn't see his body land, they assume he just hopped off somewhere. Meanwhile, in scenic Valhalla, Harokin's forces have been defeated, since god of death-wannabe Ollerus has a moveable mountain, tear-assing across the countryside. He also has captured Valkyrie, while using Barbara Noriss as a pawn.
Back on earth, Hellcat and Nighthawk are also killed, in rather Twilight Zone fashion, in a car wreck: even seeing their bodies carted off, they don't realize they were dead until "Valkyrie" shows up for them. Ollerus's plan was to kill as many people as he had to on earth, to bring their spirits into his forces, building them up until he was declared the new god of death. Valkyrie realized, although her costume had been changed, she was in the body of Barbara Norris...which is spelled differently every time it's brought up...and she starts fighting her way out, past chatty "watch-dragons," with the help of Harokin on Aragorn. They don't see "Valkyrie" arrive with Hellcat and Nighthawk, as the Hulk shows up with a lot of souls from earth, for Ollerus to "implore you--fight with me, lest earth and Valhalla perish!"
The letters page mentions, this was the last issue for writer Dave Kraft, who was off to run a publishing company in Georgia. He wasn't done with Marvel, though; he wrote most of the Savage She-Hulk. I might have missed it before, though: he passed away in 2021 from COVID. Read more!

Thursday, January 19, 2023

This would have been right after the "Suicide Run" crossover with the other Punisher titles, and why not come back to Big John Buscema doing his thing? I don't know why he didn't do the covers too, though. From 1994, Punisher War Zone #26, "Pirates" Written by Chuck Dixon, art by John Buscema. Cover by Rafael Kayanan.
Frank's looking for a gunrunner in Florida, in what appears to be a casual, maybe easy-breathing lounge version of his skull t-shirt. After a couple murders, he makes his way to scenic Puerto Dulce, disguised as a mobster he waxed in front of his girl. Frank barely gets off the plane before getting into a shootout, but manages to fight his way to a pickup by the local boss...whose sister was with the dead mobster, and knows Frank isn't him! Pretty sure she doesn't want her brother to know where she was or what she was doing, but she seems content to let Frank sweat first.
Plotwise that's a little slight, but Buscema sells the hell out of it. This story would run to PWZ #30; and was about the same time as Dixon and Buscema's prestige format Punisher western A Man Named Frank. Read more!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023


It's been too long since I've flipped through the Charlie Huston Moon Knight run, but I swear there's a bit in there somewhere with Khonshu getting starry-eyed talking about Frank Castle. Kind of like a football fan that likes the current quarterback OK, but then talks about Tom Brady like he wants to bring him home to mother. (Cowboys are up by 12 over him right this second!) The facets of Marc's personality give him a bit more utility than Frank: in recent years, I don't think we've seen Frank do any detective work like Stephen, and it's feels like forever since he's been undercover to get information like Jake. (I enjoyed the Garth Ennis PunisherMAX era, but his Frank is like the scariest serial killer in the world. How he goes anywhere is a mystery, he was terrifying.)

And cricket: no idea how it's played! I want to say there's a fifth Doctor episode with a lot of cricket, as well as a fun murder in fun the Prisoner episode "The Girl Who Was Death." That's all I've got, except a cricket bat seems like a suitable implement for mayhem.  
Read more!