Friday, April 28, 2023

Somebody bought this and didn't redeem the coupon for a sixty-minute Maxell blank tape? I can't believe it!

Well, you did have to send in eight Bubblicious wrappers: that's a lot of chewing! From 1983, Red Sonja #2, "Blood Debt!" Written by Tom DeFalco, pencil breakdowns by Mary Wilshire, inks by Nestor Redondo.
I don't have the first issue--or, at least don't have it right next to me--but this seems to be continued from there. Feverish from drinking polluted water, Sonja hallucinates her origin before collapsing, and is near death. Luckily for her, a kindly fugitive stops his flight to tend to her, which sadly leads to him being recaptured and murdered. Sonja was still too weak to do anything about it then, so she then has to track the killers down. Outside of a bar, she nearly has one of the killers in hand, but he's then killed when his drunken friends try to help, and Sonja is captured. The local warlord, the bloodthirsty Lady Feema, takes an interest in her, though...(That name really feels like a placeholder that made it to the final draft!)
This is pretty plot-heavy, but reads as well as any Conan of the same time. It's also longer: the first four issues of this series were a dollar, when most titles were sixty cents, but it was 38 pages of story. It was also continued, which wasn't usually the case in the Conan books, although that would soon change. Read more!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Knights of Pendragon make an appearance before Alan Davis finished his run in Excalibur, with most if not all of them getting killed in an alternate timeline by Sentinels in a coda to "Days of Futures Past." So I knew pretty much nothing about them, but here's yet another Marvel UK book really hyping up the Death's Head II guest-spot! From 1993, Knights of Pendragon #14, "Night of the Hunters, Part Two of Three" Written by Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson, pencils by John Royle, inks by John Royle and Jeff Anderson.
The cover features Union Jack, although I'd have had to take their word for that, since he wore a much less distinctive armor here rather than the classic flag suit. He's watching over Death's Head II, who attacked the team the previous issue, and is now joined by Magpie, a villain from earlier in the series; but DH II seems to be stalling for something. (Some of the pages seem to be out of order, at least in my copy.) Meanwhile, robot team member Gawain was having nightmares about disaster on earth-313, and Grace wanted to hook up with Peter Hunter, who could turn into a younger man when he became Albion, but she preferred the older version.
DH II had called in the Lemurians of earth-313, who accuse the Knights of genocide; but he acts like his job was done, payment on delivery. I wonder if he's even in the next issue, which would be the last. Read more!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


I know I read New Warriors when they debuted in Thor, then like the first year or so of their book...and then never again? I mean, not even a lot of random pickups later, although I know we've seen a couple here. Certainly none of the later incarnations, which means I didn't actually read any issues where Darkhawk was a member, so I don't know if I'm anywhere near their team dynamic. Then again, that means I also 'missed' a storyline where Namorita has a drunken hookup with a gang member who steals Warrior data, which leads to the death of Rage's grandma...! Ugh. Some aspects of that book, in retrospect, are very much of their time, and also kinda gross. For example, Nova was written a lot like Wally West was for a while: a lecherous horndog, with no other personality traits.

I say that, and yet it doesn't stop me from a joke at their expense, to explain away the missing Warriors Namorita and (young) Vance Astro, who of course have not received figures yet! And poor Namorita remains dead following Civil War, but they picked up a spare of her somewhere in the timestream or something. That seems like a raw deal, but she didn't have to do a stint as Penance or anything, so maybe she did get off easy.
Read more!

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Lana's an innovator in the field of getting mad at you for something she imagined you did. A real trailblazer.

Although, she has some competition on that front this issue! From 1972, Superboy #181, featuring "Super-Marriage or Super-Flop?" Written by Frank Robbins, pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Murphy Anderson; and "The Menace of the Mysterious Voyager!" Written by Leo Dorfman, pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Murphy Anderson.
Spoilers for a comic almost as old as I am: the "Mysterious Voyager," discovered in a nearly-instructible bunker buried beneath Metropolis, claims to be Jules Verne, but as you can probably guess, he's a fraud. He gets Superboy to take him to a bunch of top-secret wonders of the modern age, because he's really a spy. An American spy: he's a counter-intelligence agent, on a mission to prove Superboy was a security risk: "You may be super, but you're still a boy! You can be tricked...hoodwinked...flimflammed!" Duped! Bamboozled! Smeckledorfed! Let's see: at least three full-time agents, months of training, authentic period props and fake time-machine, an underground bunker, a demolition crew, and your usual James Bond spy camera crap; your tax dollars at work! And they still can't fool Superboy, who notices "Verne" would have been more into music, and maybe not had a shirt made of nylon. But the government getting mad over Superboy's imagined misdeeds and shortcomings can't hold a candle to the master, Lana Lang; who defends her super-boyfriend for about thirty seconds into this one, "Super-Marriage or Super-Flop?"
Lana's friends tease her about Superboy not having time for her, but Lana is big enough to know he has to go where he's needed. That kind of maturity doesn't hold up for long; as Lana imagines a future with the Teen of Steel, after they settle down and she can nag him into getting a real job, like...door-to-door salesman? Selling weights around the world, to scrawny farmers and nebbishy nerds alike! Lana's friends point out a plothole in her fantasy, though: buying weights from Superboy, wouldn't turn anyone into a Superboy, it would be false advertising.
Superboy, innocently enough, returns to the malt shop, with a literal passel of orphans he saved from drowning, and Lana's still pissed at him? Daaaaaamn! Lana's friends cheerfully tell the confused Superboy, they aren't possessive like Lana...that reads a lot more suggestively than was probably intended. In front of the orphans, yet! Read more!

Monday, April 24, 2023

I've only read Magnus, Robot Fighter as issues randomly fall into my hands from the quarter bins; but darn, I know I've read this one before! Also, you can make a talking dog, but thanks to Gary Larson's Far Side we all know what they say:
From 1975, Gold Key's Magnus, Robot Fighter #39, reprinting "Cloud-Cloddie, Go Home!" from Magnus #16, which I might have read in Acclaim/Valiant's reprint book Vintage Magnus Robot Fighter #4. Story and art by Russ Manning.
A junky robot and a talking dog rob a department store for a young girl; and Magnus and Leeja figure the dog to be a lost puppy of genetic engineer Danae. She explains the puppy had been given to a little girl, and both had gone missing years ago, but even her telepathic "neo-animals" couldn't talk, so that was a new one on her. Using a neo-raccoon to track the dog, they make their way to the lower levels of North Am, where the Gophs and other anti-socials live in the junk. (And do what? What do they eat? I don't know.) In short order, Magnus faces off against the robot Junko, then the talking dog Sam tags in to help his robot partner: Magnus is handicapped by not wanting to hurt the dog, who has no compunction against biting him! But, their girl Pert calls them off: she doesn't want them hurt, but she wasn't going back; and the Gophs are there to back her up. The head Goph L'sier actually briefly holds his own against Magnus; who was usually far stronger than any human opponent. When the Gophs pile on Magnus, Pert doesn't see that as fair, and uses Junko and Sam to break it up.
Pert had been badly injured in an accident that had left her an orphan, and had been gifted the puppy Sam to encourage her to get better. While she had recovered physically, she was still a bit bitter about it and left upper level, "cloud-cloddie" society. She lived with a young Goph, Spikey, who was pretty handy for apparently having less quality school, and had built a voicebox apparatus for Sam, who had been smart enough to talk but didn't have the vocal chords for it. To try and sell Pert on rejoining "proper" society, Leeja takes her on a tour, really selling her on the girl-friendly aspects: pretty clothes, better food, stuff to do. Pert's willing to come up, if she can bring Spikey and Sam and her pets; but the Gophs take them and leave a note to make it seem like Danae was going to take them away. L'sier planned on stealing robots and pinning the blame on Pert, but the neo-raccoon saves the day again, leading Magnus to the captured Danae, Sam, and all. It all ends in a donnybrook fight with Magnus and Sam and the junk-robots versus the Gophs and their stolen new robots. L'sier eventually gives, because while Magnus might beat his ass, Sam seems like he would eat him!
In the end, Pert decides to go live "up there," with Sam and Spikey and Junko and all. Good, I guess? I mean, there's daylight and all, it's got that going for it; but the socio-political-economic structure of North Am seemed dicey at best. Also, while I still miss my old dog Sam; I won't lie and say he would've been a great conversationalist if he could've talked. Plus he probably would've picked up bad words from me... Read more!

Friday, April 21, 2023

I missed this one when it came out, and while it didn't quite hit with me, it might hit a little differently now. I didn't intentionally post this after a rocket explosion...From 2019, Punisher Annual #1, written by Karla Pacheco, pencils by Adam Gorham, inks by Andy Owens. (And I had to upload the cover myself to the GCD just now! If I wrote or drew a big-time comic, I would have the cover and all up there so fast...!)
There are bits of this to like, bits that don't work, and bits that are just sort of confusing and non-functional. This was part of "Acts of Evil!" A bunch of annuals with branding resembling the classic "Acts of Vengeance" blurbs; although I'm not sure there was any other overarching plot or theme. A private corporation, with a douchebro corporate frontman, are making a big deal of their latest launch: it's very obviously an Elon Musk-type, and I'm not sure people really realized how much he sucked in 2019; Pacheco might've been ahead of the curve. Speaking of egomaniacs, the launch is crashed first by J.Jonah Jameson, who's yammering on about his son John and wants to sneak a peek at the shuttle; where he finds the Punisher, murdering astronauts! Or, "astronauts," but before we get to that: this is actually pretty close to how a lot of writers chose to portray JJJ in recent years: a blowhard who stumbles into things because he can't see past his own massive sense of self-importance. But, not only was he a reporter, JJJ had run into the Punisher before; probably more than once, and once would be enough to remember him! To his credit, JJJ does try to stop Frank--maybe not to his credit, actually: that might not be bravery, that might be not-thinking-things-through.
The rocket gets launched in the fight, and Frank points out, why would "astronauts" have guns on board? JJJ's response is a fair one, but they weren't really astronauts, they were Russian agents. Worse, the shuttle is met in space by space whales: I believe those are the Acanti, right? The living spaceships of the Brood! JJJ gets taken, but not to be eaten, for breeding! The Brood Queen mentions, the mutants they usually tried to use were kind of uppity, so he would have to do; while Frank steals a space-jet ski to race to the rescue, for reasons.
Frank blows a hole in the Acanti, and he and JJJ kill a bunch of Brood to patch the hole like drywall, then ride the ship down. In the epilogue (with art by Szymon Kudranski) JJJ interviews the tech mogul, in lieu of suing him for negligence in allowing JJJ to get on the rocket in the first place; as the Punisher has realized he knew more about what happened than you would've guessed. 

You can't tell in the space jet ski scan, but Frank has scrawled a little Punisher skull on his spacesuit. Possibly finger-painted with blood, but still. But, who put his skull on his shorts?
Read more!

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Is Gambit here just for a gratuitous sales-bump?

My main local comic shop has a spinner rack they salt with dollar comics, and sometimes they load it up with crap of course I'm going to buy, even if I just ended up buying Daredevil #327 again...from 1994, Daredevil #330, "Tree of Knowledge, part 4: Disinformocracy" Written by D.G. Chichester, pencils by Scott McDaniel, inks by Hector Collazo and Rich Rankin.
Gambit gets the guest-spot on the cover, but he's not in this for very long: Daredevil is still fighting System Crash, a high-tech HYDRA team. Gambit had told the X-Men he was heading into town "for some jambalaya" and said he'd check it out; and appreciates how the "new" armored DD is seen with more distrust than he probably deserves. Meanwhile, Karen Page has been approached by her old porn producers, about making newfangled interactive smut, which probably would've been point-and-click back then; but she also finds hidden, probably illegal pictures on their disc. Elektra has ordered a fancy dinner for Matt, who shows up late and also doesn't seem to be in the mood: that seems unlikely...And at a local S.H.I.E.L.D. branch, Nick Fury can't get the cyborg-y parts out of John Garrett: he isn't willing to kill him in cold blood, but doesn't want him just running around doing whatever, so he gives him a "babysitter," the cyborg Siege. (I like him! I always hear the old dial-up modem noise when he shows up...)
"Jack Batlin" is getting a new building-slash-jungle gym; and has a brief discussion with a media professor about "the 'computerization' of the public," which comtemplates but isn't even close about how online the average person was going to get. Later, in disguise at a "wetware rave," Captain America and Daredevil continue that vein of discussion: Cap presents a very G-rated, "Jeffersonian ideal" of what the internet could be, while DD plays "Devil's advocate" with a darker vision. Neither were very predictive of what actually happened, although Chichester seems to guess money-laundering would be a big part of cybercrime. Really think Cap and DD's rave costumes deserved more page time then they got: Cap with product in his hair is somehow simulataneously both unrecognizable and unmistakable. And downtown, information activist Spectrum is visited in jail by one of System Crash's killers, but possibly only with a job offer...
Yeesh, I think I skipped mentioning at least two more subplots: Foggy Nelson gets approached by Wilson Fisk's radio station, WFET, about working for them; which would be like working for an even sleazier Fox. And Baron Strucker spars with some of System Crash: they don't seem very unified, and Strucker seems fed up with their nerdery. But for the next couple issues, all these plots and possibly more get like two or three pages each, which paradoxically feels like too little and too much. (Actually, Karen's plot doesn't go super-far: she goes to the cops the next issue, and they're even less helpful than you'd expect, as the officer remembers her from porn.) This whole thing wants to be industrial and cyberpunk, and it totally is! Like Billy Idol's Cyberpunk. That thing was dated when it came out...OK, "Shock to the System" isn't a bad track, but still. In other news, I haven't loved the last couple new issues of Daredevil, as the ongoing Hand/Punisher storyline is wearing thin for me. Among other things, I'm worried Elektra will be out of her DD suit before her figure gets here... Read more!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023


What team could Darkhawk possibly mean? And have I actually read any of the comics where he was allegedly a member of that team? And was Darkhawk ever made a legit, card-carrying Avenger? (Reservist!) We'll see next time, but Hasbro hasn't made figures for a couple key members--they've made more of them than they have of the Thunderbolts, but less than they have of the Serpent Society? Well, that narrows things down. Read more!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

It only took, um, a little less than two years, but we have the conclusion of this one: from 1993, Pinhead vs. Marshal Law #2, "Hell to Pay" Written by Pat Mills, art by Kevin O'Neill. Shiny, embossed, super-great cover that's not going to scan properly: find yourselves a copy, pronto! Such sights to show you...
Pinhead has the Marshal and his girl Super Nova on the mat here, because the Marshal is as much as a tease to him: Pinhead's master Leviathan subsisted on mankind's suffering, and let's be honest: the Marshal had dispensed more than a little of it. The Marshal's deputy/assistant/undiscovered serial killer Razorhead led a batch of disposable cannon fodder super-heroes to rescue his boss; as both the Marshal and Super Nova (I think she may accidentally be called "Seraph" here, or maybe I misread it) rally against Pinhead: the Marshal admitting, he was basically a super-hero himself, while Super Nova believes the universe should be more than pain and sadism. Which reads as willful naivety here.
The Marshal manages to reach out to Pinhead's past life, as a World War One officer, where he had seen unimaginable suffering, in the name of gaining a mere six miles of ground. "The Best of British." Pinhead also alludes to the idea that the trauma of past deaths carried onto current physical ailments: acne was probably evidence of the bubonic plague in a past life, for example. As the super-heroes get brutally chewed up in the no-man's land of WWI, the Marshal basically sells those "costumed bozos" to Pinhead, as imposters, phonies ruining whatever heroism was to be had there. Back in the real world, Super Nova calls Razorhead out as a serial killer, which the Marshal downplays as mere fantasies. Which might be naivety on his part. Super Nova breaks up with him, realizing he was not going to stop hating heroes, and the Marshal finds if not new love, willing partners going forward, unrepentant. 

 The series as a whole leaves you to ask yourself: Super Nova would wonder, is this suffering absolutely necessary? While the Marshal and Pinhead seem to agree, those assholes have it coming.
Read more!

Monday, April 17, 2023

I bought a big stack of fifty-cent Warlord comics the other day, and we'll blog one right away rather than scheduling it for years later. It's an issue I've read about half of dozens of times, but didn't remember the rest! From 1976, Warlord #3, "War Gods of Skartaris" Story and art by Mike Grell.
USAF Lt. Colonel Travis Morgan hasn't been in the underground world of Skartaris long, but is making headway raising an army to face the usurper Deimos and save savage queen Tara. Although he claims to have come as a liberator, fellow former gladiator Machiste knows there's more to it: it wouldn't be that difficult to free Tara, if that was Morgan's only goal. And while Morgan does want to bring USA-style freedom to the people, he also admits freely to loving the fight: he was an adreneline junkie from the start. (Also, he's going to re-install Tara as queen; it's not like he was gonna set up elections or anything.)
The portion of this issue relating to Deimos (and recapping the first two issues of the series and First Issue Special #8) are reprinted in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #10, which I've had for years and is one of my favorite single books. But, the rest of this issue is a side-quest, that still has some minor importance for the book: Morgan chases a unicorn, even though Machiste assures him he'll never be able to catch it. He gets jumped and captured by lizard-men, some of the curious throwbacks scattered about Skartaris, and taken to be sacrificed at their new temple: Morgan's own crashed SR-71!
A colossal serpent shows up--apparently not related to the planned sacrifice--and eats a couple of the lizard-men. Machiste arrives to save Morgan, but his horse gets eaten; so to save them Morgan gets his survival kit from the plane, which included the .44 Automag he would use the rest of the series. There also appears to be a lot of ammo, but would those have been standard USAF issue? I don't think so. The .44 doesn't finish off the serpent, either: Morgan has to kill it with the plane's ejector seat, which blasts through the roof of the serpent's mouth like a rocket.
Machiste just wants to collect on Morgan's wager, for falling to catch the unicorn. But, they don't have time to look around, so Morgan doesn't get a look at the high-tech map room just around the corner. He may return to the plane to pick up ammo more than once, but I know we see him visit it in #102. I think another cult is using it for sacrifices then, and I think it's a popular make-out point, too. Read more!