Monday, July 31, 2023

Just fact-check anything Cap says this issue. Maybe double-check anything anyone says.

The actors' strike is in full-swing right now, and honestly, they're more than right to do so. The studios wanted them to take a deal where said studios could then use an actor's likeness, in perpetuity, across any thing they like, for ever. Which seemed cartoonishly evil, even back when it was a plot-point in Howard Chaykin's American Flagg! Hard Times, back in--my god, 1985? I've probably had that trade on my bookshelves for well over 30, 35 years at this point; one of my favorites ever, even if while I would go on to read a ton of Chaykin's other work, I would barely read another issue of AF! 

But, we can take a look at another Chaykin book: from 2009, Captain America Theater of War: America First! #1, story and art by Howard Chaykin, colors by Edgar Delgado.
Where to start, here...this was one of maybe seven "Theater of War" Cap one-shots, set at various times in Cap's history. Or "Cap's" history, since this was the phony 1950's commie-smasher version. He's a jingoistic ideologue and a cold fish, about as likeable as a chopping block and almost as flexible. Sure, the commies were up to shenanigans, but still. A pre-eyepatch Nick Fury guests: he hadn't quite lost sight in the war-injured eye yet, but he also knows this wasn't the original Steve Rogers, no matter what he called himself. Fury's the most personable out of anyone this issue; when was the last time that happened? Anyway, "Cap" brings down a long-term Soviet plant, a thinly-veiled version of O.G. fearmonger Joseph McCarthy himself.
The art, and the fashions, are exquisite; but it's like an impeccably tailored suit, out of the coursest material. I glanced at the descriptions of a couple other "Theater of War" issues, and they looked to run a bit maudlin or weepy: this one isn't, I guess I have to give it that.
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Friday, July 28, 2023

Elektra's now DD, Kurt's going to be Spidey, and Natasha's going to be Venom? So much for "just be yourself."

Not if you can be Daredevil, though! I went out of my way to grab her early, and immediately had to pop off her head: I almost thought the scarf was going to be attached. I wish I had more time to play with her, but I have to mow my lawn here shortly--a chore I've avoided for several years now and am not looking forward to; but my landlords apparently proclaimed it must be done and conveniently forgot they used to do it. I'm super irritated, if you couldn't guess. The lawn's been nothing but weeds for like two years. 

One quick one here, then take the rest of the day off, and have a good weekend!
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Thursday, July 27, 2023

I hadn't read this before, and I maybe had even fallen off Captain America before this crossover: from 1995, Avengers #388, "Taking A.I.M. part 4, Into the Breach" Written by Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh, breakdowns by Mike Deodato, finishes by Tom Palmer.
I have only the vaguest idea what was happening in the previous issues of this crossover, but this was very close to the end of Mark Gruenwald's Captain America run, as the Super-Soldier Serum was deteriorating and Cap was fading fast, even with the prerequisite 90's big armor suit to keep him alive. Actually, we don't get armor-Cap this issue, since MODOK had tried to break him in the previous issue, and he spends this issue in a torn-up standard Cap suit as he and a newly-sentient Adaptoid try to save the world from some Cosmic Cube-related calamity. Superia, the Amazon-like villain of "The Superia Stratagem" a few years back, offers to save Cap, if he'll agree to owe her a favor later. Cap says no deal, but slapping away her drugs, the Red Skull grabs them: he was inhabiting a clone of Cap's body, and so wanted to make sure he didn't fall victim to the same deterioration that befell Cap. (But, it took some time for Cap to go south, and other factors like, um, crack use, could've been a factor. And I don't know that I would just take something Superia said would cure me...) The Skull kills Superia (she'd be back, possibly because Mike Deodato might've dug drawing her) and teleports away, apparently unconcerned about the impending end of the world. It might even be the Skull simply assumed Cap would sacrifice himself to save the world--and the Skull!--and there was no point in even worrying about it; although I would've expected a more snippy parting shot then.
The Avengers and Cap's new sidekicks Free Spirit and Jack Flag are mostly hung up trying to save the innocent bystanders on Boca Caliente, if this was Boca Caliente: this artifical island doesn't seem big enough for that. Diamondback makes a brief appearance: she had been disguised as Superia's henchwoman Snapdragon, who she had killed! The sentient Adaptoid sacrifices himself to save everything, since it thinks that might be his chance to touch the divine, and Cap hopes he makes it. Cap himself is rescued by Falcon, Giant-Man, and the Black Widow; who perhaps don't realize how bad Cap's condition really was...
I didn't love this one, but some of Deodato and Palmer's work there is pretty dynamic. I also think that was towards the end of Black Widow's stint as Avengers chairwoman, and I'm not sure if that's because she thought she failed Cap, or something else. Read more!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023


I had a typo in my script for this one, that I barely caught in time, that Corsair wasn't able to "bound" with Vulcan; and I might've corrected it to "bind" before figuring it out. The review over at OAFE noted Corsair's big divorced-dad energy, but I thought it would point out his sword's on the side it would be for a leftie, isn't it? And maybe he is; there's not a ton of consistency in some of his appearances. I re-read the big Dave Cockrum trade of Starjammers appearances beforehand, but haven't gone back to the Warren Ellis mini-series yet. 

 We weren't joking: Vulcan totally did kill his dad in Uncanny X-Men #486. Corsair would return, but the details of his resurrection have been sketchy, to the point that it's pretty clear somebody used him by mistake, and the error had to be backfilled later but kind of wasn't. I believe whatever brought him back was illegal tech--even by space standards--and he still needed booster shots of it. Which might be what he and Vulcan are going to get up to, but we don't care!
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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Shakira might have the most risqué line of that year there.

Continuing our kinda-sorta but not really ongoing blogging of the entire series at about an issue a year, we're up to 1982's Warlord #54, "Sorceress Supreme" Written by Mike Grell, with uncredited script by Sharon Grell, pencils by Mark Texeira, inks by Mike DeCarlo. (We're writing this post in November 2017, hope we and everyone else are still around to see it posted!)

At scenic Castle Deimos, the witch Ashiya has been disguising herself as Travis Morgan's first wife, Rachel; the mother of his daughter Jennifer. It's part of her plot to train Jennifer in the mystic arts, while Jennifer trains Ashiya in the ancient Atlantean machinery. Jennifer seems to be losing interest in training her "mother," though, and may have seen through her disguise. When Travis, Tara, and Shakira return to the castle, Ashiya greets them as Rachel, then zaps the stunned Travis with a mystic blast, and drops the portcullis (hope this link is still good in six years!) on Shakira and Tara: Tara is trapped outside, while Shakira is pinned underneath in her cat form!

Enraged, Travis fights his way to Ashiya, who is forced to reveal her true form, a withered hag. Jennifer hits Travis with a mystic blast to stop him from killing Ashiya, but not to save her...

While Ashiya is still more powerful, Jennifer is able to maneuver her into position to be fried by some of the ancient machinery. Travis has to reassure Tara, why he was drawn to "Rachel," and while he's glad to see his daughter again, Jennifer knows her studies aren't complete yet, and she will have to stay at the castle...for now. She would be back fairly soon, around #65. Also this issue: the conclusion of the Paul Levitz/Tom Yeates back-up feature "Dragonsword," probably my least-favorite of the various back-ups.

This wasn't the first issue with it, but I have to wonder if Mike Grell designed Jennifer's green outfit, or if Mark Texeira did. Even though Grell seemed to be winding down his involvement with the book, I do think it was his. Still a nice outfit, although I don't know if I love her headgear when it looks like antennae.
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Monday, July 24, 2023

For a Punisher comic, this almost qualifies as compassionate care.

Also, the Punisher gets a new ride, presumably from Wayne Industries, in today's book: from 1991, Punisher War Journal #34, "Blackout" Written by Mike Baron, pencils by Ron Wagner, and a ton of inkers.
A former Wall Street trader has had a psychotic break, and to defend earth from the Martian invasion, has been blowing up Con Ed power stations. (In a rant, he mentions his dad made him work at a quarry as a kid, where he picked up the demolition know-how.) The ensuing blackouts have exacerbated racial tensions between the Korean and African-American neighborhoods, which also have a local drug dealer shaking down both groups. Frank has a new toy, an "unlimited urban assault vehicle," which he commissioned for $8 million in 1991 money--in the neighborhood of 18 million today, which seems kind of light, but I suppose nobody pads the Punisher's bills, either. Frank turns the water cannons on some looters, but also straight-up murders one that pulls a knife on him, which felt a bit excessive? He could've broken both of his arms without breathing hard if he wanted to. (Back in '91 looting, in some circles, was seemingly considered a more heinous crime than murder. The looters were stealing from a smaller, probably family-owned business; but they would've been insured? And when Frank blasts them with that water cannon he doubtless destroys whatever they looted as well. Which is probably a point for him, like no, nobody can have it then.)
Frank guns down a lot of thugs with his new murder-mobile, and happens upon the trader-bomber, who thinks Frank is "the man in black," a superior officer in the resistance against the Martians. Getting the backstory from him, Frank locks up the guy's explosives, and gives him a nice new tinfoil hat to keep the Martian transmissions out. And a matching beret to wear over the tinfoil! Boy, Frank can accessorize. He saves him from a bum-burning, and notes that he'll set up insurance and treatment for him through a dummy company. Geez, Frank does more for mental health than most states! Still, kinda feel like he's all over the place on this one. Read more!

Friday, July 21, 2023

I have been trying to work "She Was an Acrobat's Daughter" into a strip for ages.

I'm pretty sure I bought the Batman/Elmer Fudd special new; but that was on the strength of Lee Weeks art. I'm trying to recall if I liked it, since Tom King has burned any goodwill he had with me. So has today's writer, but I didn't pay full price for this one: from 2018, the Joker/Daffy Duck #1, "Why Tho Theriouth?" Written by Scott Lobdell, pencils by Brett Booth, inks by Norm Rapmund. 

Yes, a lot of 'jokes' with Daffy's lisp here; first and foremost his inability to get through the automated phone system for customer service at Acme. Predictably enraged, Daffy heads to Acme in person, but finds the building abandoned...and now the new hideout of the Joker, who has just beat a disappointing henchman to death. Caught, Daffy thinks fast, and tells Joker he's from the temp agency, Acme Hench. The Joker seems to buy that, or maybe just wants to see how this plays out.
As the new lead hench, Daffy excels at motivating the other goons and at lair setup, but can't manage to get enough leeway to escape. Worse, the Joker next job was murdering a bunch of conceited billionaires at a theory, 'worse,' I suppose. Daffy executes the plan to a 't,' with a couple minor errors: he accidentally locked the goons in the van, and may have used sneezing gas instead of laughing gas. Ooh, that's going to look bad on his next performance review, but Batman arrives in time to break the Joker's jaw, since somebody carelessly removed all the lugnuts from the van's tires.
Still, Daffy overhears Gordon and Batman badmouthing ducks and goes off, and since he had been ostensibly leading the raid, it looks bad for him. A nice long stay at Arkham might do him some good! (Batman also misses the Joker's escape in a carjacked food truck earlier: world's greatest detective, my tailfeathers.)
Also this issue: "Silence of the Lame," written by Joey Cavalieri, art by Luciano Vecchio. Commissioner Gordon light the signal, not for Batman, but for the "head head-shrinker" Dr. Daffy Duck. Most of the jokes don't land, except the Joker's secret, of his greatest trick ever: Arkham wasn't so much his cage, as it was his home! He does have a point about his cell being nicer than most prisons' exercise yards...
I kinda thought there would be more callbacks in this; but "shoot me now!" is the only one that jumps out at me. I know there were other team-up issues like this, but I recently read (possibly from the same quarter bin!) Nightwing/Magilla Gorilla, which has a decent plot, a couple touching moments, and a third-string second-banana that goes bad. ("Third-string" is generous; I watch so many cartoons and couldn't have told you if that character was shown as a jerk before!) It was better than this one; although I'm still wondering where Batman/Elmer Fudd ranks.
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Thursday, July 20, 2023

That thing just ate a dude's heart...still seems pretty harmless? Not feeling it.

Over the years, we've briefly glanced at the other three annuals in the "Lifeform" crossover: Punisher Annual #3, Incredible Hulk Annual #16, and Silver Surfer Annual #3, but I couldn't even recall if I had read the missing second chapter here. And it's got a fifteen page Fatboys story, and I realize why I probably kept my two dollars in my pocket. From 1990, Daredevil Annual #6, all stories written by Gregory Wright.
The Lifeform plot continues, at least tangentially, in all of the stories. In the lead, "Predator," reporter Ben Urich works on the case in his best clipped-delivery narration, while Daredevil tries to stop the mutated and insane George Prufrock. Who is also super-infectious, which seems like it would be more of a hazard to somebody who led with his fists like DD. Prufrock, and later an infected cop, both seem to see a lot of angel-demon hallucination imagery, which is probably always a problem when DD's around. Urich's source was a scientist, that wanted the virus to save himself...somehow; but Prufrock is seemingly killed again. Which just means he'll bubble back up in the next annual. (Art by 2000 AD great Cam Kennedy.)
Next...ugh, the Fatboys. I don't know if somebody thought the world really needed a street version of the Little Rascals, but here we are. I swear they've shown up in 14 annuals by this point and they always suck, hard. One of them claims he could've taken the Lifeform, but skates away screaming with the rest when it lurches out of a dumpster at them. This, and the lead, also feature Jet and Spit, the Wildboys; who only barely beat the Fatboys as my least favorite recurring characters possibly in anything. And there's a junior varsity skate gang in this, the Tunnel Teens, between the youthful shenanigans of the Fatboys and the cliched thuggery of the Wildboys, but they don't seem a match for either. Hate this, hate them. Even Daredevil seems less cool for having to be in this one. (Art by Gary Hartle and Mike DeCarlo.)
Slightly more interesting: Thomas Sutton on "Innocent Bystander?" Daredevil warns a cop not to touch the Lifeform's severed arm, but he gets infected. That's okay, he was a rotten cop--on the take--and a rotten husband, with a wife and a mistress. Both of whom show up in the hospital, as he strokes out screaming about the pit: they're just lucky not to get infected themselves. Sutton's art is great, there's just not enough there to work with.
Lastly, the...not-so-charmingly titled, "Two Schizos," with art by Michael Bair, pits the Lifeform against Typhoid Mary. Both of them have multiple voices in their heads, you see...yeah. The Lifeform opts out of eating Typhoid, since it thinks she's "beaut-i-ful," but she sets him on fire a bit. Only the influence of Mary stops her, which leaves the Lifeform to search for other food.

Well, at least I can confirm I've read this now? That's...yeah.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2023


A plainclothes Nightcrawler can be seen leaping at Corsair on the cover of Excalibur #69, an otherwise pretty dismal issue: that was the first after Alan Davis left, and several team members are missing or benched off-page. Any conversations Kurt has with Corsair that issue are related to the alleged crimes of Cerise, which would get her written out of the book as well. But, we never see Kurt and Corsair interact much, which feels like a dropped ball, since Kurt would probably be interested in hearing about the exploits of a bona-fide space pirate. 

And Kurt's witch-mom, Margali Szardos, showed up in the books recently: she was responsible for the monsterism that hit Kurt and some others. (I don't think it was across all the X-books, like it probably should've been.) While Margali had long been portrayed as a loving adoptive mother, around 1996 she started to be portrayed as shadier and shadier. She occasionally seems to feel bad about it, but is still willing to do whatever towards her somewhat vague goals. Margali has maybe done more horrible things to Kurt than Mystique has at this point? Quantity-wise, anyway; I guess Mystique is still ahead as far as the horribleness of deeds goes; but Margali is being horrible more often.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2023

I'm not a Lobo fan by any means, although I did just recently buy the McFarlane Lobo figure since I saw it cheap--come to think of it, I think I was shorted his chain! Ah, I probably have one around somewhere. I'm not sure he looks right, or on-model today; at first glance this made me think if Lobo's heyday had been during Curt Swan's run. From 1990, Adventures of Superman #464, "The Day of the Krypton Man, part 2: Blood Brawl" Story and pencils by Dan Jurgens, finished inks by Art Thibert.
Of course, this issue predates his first mini-series, although he did appear on the cover of L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #13 the same month as this issue. This wasn't quite as svelte and polished as that New 52 version, but Lobo is much less biker-burly than usual today, even if he's still looking to pick a fight with Superman. With a teleporter named Raof and super-Superman fan Bibbo in tow, he senses Kryptonian presence in the South Pole; but Superman is actually just arriving in Metropolis then. Supes was late for a morning meeting, and having recently returned from space exile, he was wondering if he could still balance a double life. That is immediately complicated by Lois Lane inviting Clark to dinner, to catch him up on what he had missed. Uncharacteristically, Clark snubs her, coldly; then seems confused as to why she was upset. He then senses intruders near his Fortress, and changes costumes--momentarily seeming to appear in Kryptonian garb!
Superman is understandably not thrilled to find three drunks in his house, even before Lobo sucker-kicks him. (The kick just seems wrong, though: too graceful? A Lobo kick would be more like starting a hog than any kung-fu.) Lobo thinks he's more than a match for the over-rated Man of Steel, and he might be right: with his brutal fighting style, he was dishing out more than Supes wanted to take. The fight takes an unusual turn, though, when Lobo gets into the Kryptonite stored there; and Superman gets into a Kryptonian power-armor suit: Lobo eventually wins, though, blasting the armor apart with missiles from his space-bike. Victorious, he then blacks out; as does his new fan Bibbo, leaving Raof to fly them away.
But, Superman was of course fine, and glad to see them leave; having used the armor to create holograms of his defeat. A technology he hadn't known how to use before, but could now...somehow. And still hammered, Lobo visits some aliens he had made a bet with, but his memory was understandably a bit fuzzy. Worse, Bibbo had been wearing his recording-goggles backwards, so he had been taping himself and missed the whole fight! There's also some subplot pages, with Ma and Pa Kent trying to cover Clark forgetting Lana's birthday; pretty obviously the influence of whatever Kryptonian macguffin was in play here. Read more!

Monday, July 17, 2023

The real 'curse' is the numbering on this thing.

Ugh, this is continued in a Spider-Man one-shot, then an X-Men one-shot that appears to introduce another sub-team that'll never be seen again, that it? I can't even tell! From 2021, Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing #1, written by Steve Orlando, art by Francesco Mobili.
The villain this issue, calls herself "Harrower," which is about as try-hard as it sounds but I think it's supposed to be. She's the grand-niece of a member of Hordeculture, a relatively recent Jonathan Hickman/Francis Yu invention: radical botanist mad scientists. Think A.I.M. if it was older, somewhat racist ladies working with plants. (They suck, but they're also supposed to; they're villains.) Harrower might be a little out there even for them, though; as she plans on using the Man-Thing to wipe out humanity. Her aunt doesn't really think that's gonna work, but also knows there's no telling her niece anything; it's going to probably have to run its course and blow up in her face. Harrower lures out Man-Thing with a man panicking at being turned into a plant; and seemingly skins the silent monster.
The next day, weird, huge vegetable growth appear worldwide, and the Avengers investigate various locations. Captain America is seemingly engulfed in vines, and finds himself in a dark swamp, facing off against some old grudges-slash-deep cuts: Nuke was pretty well known, but I rarely remember the 50's anti-commie/lunatic Cap's real name of "William Burnside. (I believe that was a much later addition, possibly from Ed Brubaker? 50's Cap had changed his name to "Steven Rogers" and went with it.) Protocide I recall from Dan Jurgens' Cap run, but I also read the Priest stories with "Anti-Cap" and have zero recollection of them. Cap receives help with a mysterious figure he doesn't recognize, but shares a link with all of them: it's Doctor Ted Sallis, or what's left of him, deep inside the Man-Thing.
While in the real world, people begin bursting into flames from a combination of spores and fear; Sallis explains the Man-Thing's dying act had been to try and get Captain America there, but he didn't know why. Sallis admits, he wasn't trying to remake the Super-Soldier formula (the link between him and the others that appeared) and that he didn't create it...Smells like a retcon coming, but whatever. It also feels like more agency than Man-Thing was usually given, but maybe he wasn't as mindless as back in the day. Read more!