Thursday, August 31, 2023

Get his wallet!

So I recently had my more-or-less annual "Why the hell do I still live here" fit and am maybe coming out of it. Especially on a day like today where it's too hot to do much, but I can go for a bike ride, pick up a dozen cheap comics and a Blizzard, and call it good. And a fun book to start with there: from 1986, the New Mutants #43, "Getting Even!" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Steve Purcell, inks by Whilce Portacio. Cover by Barry Windsor-Smith!
What could get me to buy a New Mutants book, since I've never really warmed up to them? Well, the cover is sweet, with the entire team seemingly ready to beat down Empath of the Hellions. Even Doug looks like he's gonna throw those hands; nobody likes that guy. But, I hadn't realized this had art from Steve Purcell of Sam & Max fame! This month, Bobby returns to the team, and is quickly steamed up for revenge on Empath, for torturing their friends: Tom Friedlander and Sharon Corsi, who we've seen before, and were still "red Indians," which is less a limitation of comic-book coloring than tradition at this point. While some of the team wonder from the start where this is going to go off the rails, Magik is all-in: drag that sucker to hell, er, Limbo, and start the torture!
The kids already have their mind-games in place ahead of Empath's moves, but somewhat surprisingly, his team opts to come to his rescue. Well, it's not that surprising: they had a pretty solid moral center in James Proudstar, who was then Thunderbird but would join X-Force as Warpath. Doug and some of the others figure out they don't want to sink to Empath's level, and give him back to the Hellions, where James makes it clear where the line's going to be for him going forward...although, I don't think he'd be around Empath long enough to enforce it, and that punk remains a dick pretty much to this day...? Yep.
Also this issue: yet another U.S. Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation: Total No. Copies Printed (net press run): Average no. of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 477,295. Single issue nearest to filing date: 390,784. Read more!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023


I may have to go find an old Judge Dredd, featuring "the Gribligs." It's a pretty jokey one, that still includes a couple of murders and bodies eaten by an invasive, if cute, alien life form. Kurt and Sat are not going to follow up on this, unless I get like 20 Cr'reee figures somewhere...

And I'm 40% sure "fuzzy reprobate" is from somewhere in Sam & Max, but I'm not positive. Also, I'm fairly sure I've read some actual comics with Xemnu, and aside from that one Immortal Hulk panel of him invoking nostalgia as a weapon, I can't recollect them. Mmm, take that back: I swear once or twice, in "Hulk's greatest hits" kind of issues, there's usually a callback to Xemnu getting punched.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

At least she was old enough that this wasn't "Child-bride of the Stars."

I was furious when I got to the third feature in this issue, because I couldn't believe DC would reprint "Jimmy Olsen's Secret Love!" again. Better taste must've prevailed: they didn't reprint it again, I just never got around to blogging the rest of this issue, until buying another copy the other day...From 1976, Superman Family #177, featuring "Bride of the Stars" Plot by Cary Bates, script by Elliot S! Maggin, art by Kurt Schaffenberger.
Several years ago, on a distant planet, a child was born under apparently a good star, with a "star-mate" born at the same time: if they were to marry, they were prophesized to be unstoppable. Today, an as-yet blissfully-unaware Supergirl is on her way to Kandor to visit her folks, only to discover the locks have been changed, and they don't know her anymore. In fact, in Kandor she can't find any record of a Kara Zor-El or Supergirl. While she feels like an orphan again, and I agree it's a downer, it also seems like that sort of thing happens to her sometimes? It's a little worse than them forgetting her birthday, but still. Supergirl doesn't get too much time to mope about it, as the observatory nearly burns down, in a fire set to lure her out; by a curly-headed lout with a grab-bag full of powers, who claims she's his "star-mate!" Yick.
The lout's name was Ranar, and he introduces himself as a "Hakawee," in a longwinded story about meeting Kara's parents shortly after Krypton blew up. And they seemed to prefer a death by Kryptonite poisoning or exile in the Phantom Zone to a 'rescue' by Ranar, which should tell you something. Ranar's powers also include mansplaining astrology, and stealing her powers with a "mystic rod." Those doodads usually have better names...Kara ditches him, then hides out in her secret identity, but Ranar puts a dome over town to keep her from escaping. Worse, Kara remembers what she heard about the Hakawee--wait, don't Kryptonians have super-recall? Wouldn't she have known this instantly? Well, it's for our benefit, anyway: the Hakawee were space barbarians, powerful, with no sense of right or wrong. The Kryptonians seem to have an instinctual revulsion to them, which was probably a bit elitist, but they do suck, so...Kara realizes her folks must've been trying to cover for her, like telling a jerk caller their daughter had moved, but no dice.
Using power he had already drained from Supergirl, Ranar puts the townspeople under his control, and starts dressing them up like him. (Fortunately, he apparently doesn't have time to give everyone perms.) Kara tries to pretend to be hypnotized, but the rod calls her out; and even when she gets it away from him he's still able to use it. Afraid of the mesmerized locals getting hurt, Kara agrees to yield; if Ranar will release them, and give her an hour to say goodbye to earth. Ranar had no honor or loyalty, but knew she did, and that he could use it against her; so agrees. But, on the flight to the Hakawee planet, Ranar realizes his stars have changed: bonding with Supergirl would be a disaster, now. He releases her, not noticing Kara's smirk: she had slapped a small planet together out of space debris, and used it to block one of the stars, ruining his astrological chart. It didn't appear to actually give him power; but maybe the fact that he thought it would did something? Also, Kara just lets that jerk go; he kinda needed to be sent to space jail. But, she wanted to see her folks, who of course are thrilled to have her back. 

This probably isn't right, but it feels like these Supergirl stories in Superman Family were evenly split between fights with jelly-jealous vixen types, or super-douchebros who wanted the most amazing woman in the universe to get in the kitchen and make them a sandwich. Like, one or the other; Rao forbid there be a story with just a bank robber who liked cash or something. Ugh, there's one more (reprint) story this issue; and it's going to hurt. Later.
Read more!

Monday, August 28, 2023

I'd like to read the issue this cover should've been on, not enough to read more of these, but still.

Some of this maybe aged better than I would've guessed, but again, not enough to make me want to keep reading. From 2015, Uncanny X-Men #29, written by Brian Bendis, pencils by Chris Bachalo, inks by Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, and Al Vey.
The cover appears to be a bunch of characters trying to read Charles Xavier's will over She-Hulk's shoulders; including some of Xavier's closest compatriots, Howard the Duck, the Man-Thing, Doctor Doom, and Forbush Man. I--just--anyway, that's not in this particular comic; instead, we've got Cyclops in his red-X mutant liberator/terrorist mode, trying to win over an insanely powerful new mutant, Matthew. Magneto confronts them, but while he cautions Cyke not to "poison him against me," Matthew still teleports him away, since nothing Cyke says about him was false, really.
Magik goes back in time for help with this, from Doctor Strange; who isn't thrilled about time-travel, but trains her in the use of the Eye of Agamotto, so she can see for sure if Matthew is going to be good or bad. Before they can do that, Magik, Cyclops, and Matthew are all blown to bits by what appears to be a helicarrier. But, another mutant, Eva--who looks way too much like Rogue, I assumed it was her, but it's Tempus--opts to also go back in time, to tell Professor Xavier that his plan for Matthew maybe hadn't worked out, hopefully without telling him um, his best student would kill him? This seems fairly typical for the X-books: somebody brings up, should we do this thing? Thirty seconds of debate over the morality of said thing, before somebody unilaterally decides to just do it.
Nightcrawler did not appear often in this series, but I know he's there at the reading of Xavier's will, because I've seen the scene where he flirts a bit with She-Hulk. What issue is that? Before or after this one? Read more!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Even worse, the scars were how he got the girlfriend in the first place. Stupid time loop.

Not to Monday-morning quarterback and second-guess a series from 1992, but maybe they shouldn't have come right out of the gate with the Wolverine guest-spot? Count on a new number one for some sales, save Wolvie for issue three or so. I don't think they thought they had the space to breathe, though; from the way this issue's laid out: Warheads #1, written by Nick Vince, pencils by Gary Erskine, inks by John Beeston.
This issue introduces us to Mys-Tech's mercenaries, the Warheads; by killing off three of them. Kether Troop usually goes through wormholes and tries to bring back tech or knowledge that can then be made profitable, but squad leader Colonel Liger realizes what this trip was: closing a time loop, since they've arrived in the past. Specifically, a nothing little ghost town in Australia...circa 1988. Liger remembers a warning, that three would die, two men and a woman; and was already kicking himself for dating within his squad. While Liger tries to underscore the danger while being super-vague; one of his men goes off-mission quickly, sick of Mys-Tech and no longer caring if the timeline were altered, he opts to shoot the first person he sees and change history. Unfortunately, the first person he saw was Wolverine, so that didn't go super-well: sometimes, the timeline resists being changed, doesn't it?
Liger's girlfriend gets it, while the other Warheads download data from the Reavers' computers. While the surviving squad members wormhole home, Liger stays behind, to talk to Wolverine; in an attempt to change history. Two years later, a young Liger is British intelligence in Madripoor, where he meets Wolverine: for his first time, but Wolvie has a message for him. "Remember me...and remember this." It might've been left at that, if the young Liger hadn't fought back: Wolverine goes berzerk on him, trashing his face. Liger did remember when he saw Wolverine, but couldn't do much without fear of changing history; not that he would've been able to kill Wolverine with ten squads of Warheads. Still, his boss Grant isn't too broken up about the losses; worth it for the intel they pulled. Liger struggles to not kill him; but that seems like a matter of time.
Despite being by the same creative team, the next eleven pages seem to be a completely separate story; like the formatting was going to be closer to a British anthology book like 2000 AD but then opted for a more American-style comic. It's not bad, just unusual; and the second story intros new Warhead Leona, as she tries to sort her role in the squad. Read more!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

80-Page Thursdays: Secret Origins Annual #3!

It's been like half a year since our last 80-pager, so yay! Glad to find another one--aw, the Teen Titans! Shoot. Still, a ton of great creators on this one: from 1989, Secret Origins Annual #3, "Pieces of the Puzzle" Written by George Pérez; pencils by Tom Grummett, Grant Miehm, Irv Novick, Michael Bair, Trevor Von Eeden, Dave Cockrum. Kevin Maguire, M. D. Bright, Colleen Doran, and Dick Giordano; inks by George Pérez, Anthony Van Bruggen, Ty Templeton, Michael Bair, Trevor Von Eeden, Larry Mahlstedt, Karl Kesel, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey, Romeo Tanghal, and Dick Giordano.
Dick Grayson is repeatedly tormented in a dreamlike state by a hooded figure in purple--the Time Trapper? No...I was pretty sure it was going to be that punkass Danny Chase, since I would've swore his costumed identity wore purple, but not him either. There are clues, you might be able to guess if you flip through it! Whoever it is, purple-hood makes Dick relive and recap the history of the Teen Titans, which involves the team breaking up and reforming over and over and over. And over. Along with disparaging Dick at every opportunity; purple-hood also seems to show a lot of interest in Donna Troy--seemingly seeing her as the only thing really holding the team together--and the newly retconned pre-Crisis Bat-Girl, now Flamebird. It doesn't get as creepy-weird as I thought it was going to; that's a plus. There also seems like a lot of page time devoted to Titans West, like "hey, remember when these jerks had their own team? Yeah, they broke up five minutes later."
(I have a theory about that! Donna holds the Titans together, because the guys all love her to various degrees, but with the possible exception of Speedy don't seem to seriously hit on her; because if like Dick and Donna got together and then something happened, the Titans would be over, as a concept. All of the guys in Titans West probably went after Flamebird and were probably all shot down, hard; and the team never gelled like Jello that...didn't gel, I guess.)
I don't think Pérez got enough credit as a writer: he did a run of Silver Surfer that I don't recall as great but should maybe revisit. Here he does a great job stitching together 25 years of assorted Titans comics into one story, along with a few updates, and wrapping it up with the then-current status quo for the team. Maybe if I'd read the book in the Wolfman/Pérez heyday, I'd be more fond of it; but so much infighting and breakups, it's like Fleetwood Mac, the comic. Did Fleetwood Mac even break up that much? I feel like they pushed through it. Read more!

Wednesday, August 23, 2023


Part of this is a riff on the recent-ish Heroes Reborn: Hyperion and the Imperial Guard, which featured an altered timeline where young Hype spent some time as a space hero, not unlike Superboy's time with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Except of course it ended terribly for about everyone involved. I don't think Fang was actually in it, but he's here, so...poor Fang did get his pants (and shirt!) stolen by Wolvie, was killed by the Brood in their first storyline, and then much later I think there was a girl-Fang, then clones? I'm probably not imagining that, I hope.

Also, I'm not sure if this has changed, but it used to be Hyperion was considered his dimension's version of an Eternal. But the Eternals have gotten...weird, since then? The powers sorta lined-up, but not much else does. Honestly, Hype usually has more personality than an entire Eternal host; even if it's his jerk version like here. 
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Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Weirdly, the dragon on this cover resembles the other Fafnir.

Specifically, from Walt Simonson's Thor, but I thought he looked like Themberchaud from the D&D movie; despite being a different color. "Featuring a team with so much plot armor, their fiercest foe spawns in with diabetes." Anyway, from 1985, Conan the Barbarian #166, "Blood of the Titan!" Written by by Michael Fleisher, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Geof Isherwood. Hmm, I would've been reading Conan pretty regularly by this point, but I don't recall this one, even though we've blogged several issues with Fafnir as his companion. Even with one arm, he's willing to throw down when some goons try to abduct a girl; but is steamed when Conan steps in to help. He's sore, and feels like Conan is showing him up; but honestly, the fact that you can run with Conan with just one arm is plenty impressive, guy. He's Conan, man. The girl wants to hideout at her uncle's place, and Conan plans to get her to safety before more guards show up; but Fafnir stubbornly refuses to run.
The girl, Giselle, explains the backstory on the ride: in that local province, the local baron could be challenged to a duel in a yearly tournament. This had been a fairly good system for a while, as barons came and went, until the current baron's champion Gargantax put him in power for the last ten years or so. There hadn't even been challengers the last few years, which caused some local grumbling. Giselle had been bought by the baron, since Gargantax had been smitten with her, but she had escaped; and the baron wanted her back, since Gargantax wouldn't fight without her. Meanwhile, some locals convince Fafnir, over drinks, he could totally take Gargantax! That'd show Conan and everybody.
The baron's guards were already at the uncle's, so Giselle and Conan are captured. Gargantax, who looks like he's maybe got a bit of gigantism, is thrilled to have her back, but can't understand why she doesn't love him. Maybe when he murders this year's challenger, that'll win her over. The locals that brought in Fafnir were working for the baron, who felt like they had to have some challenger just to avoid sour grapes, even if it was a one-armed mercenary. Conan is sentenced to be executed, but talks the guards into buying a last drink. Which he smashes, since it was crap...and he needed a sharp chunk of pottery to sever his ropes. He breaks free and fights his way to the arena, where Gargantax was giving Fafnir the business: Conan turns the crowd against the baron and Gargantax, to get the opportunity to fight him himself. A decision he might regret, as Gargantax does pretty well against Conan!
Giselle tries to save Conan the only way she can: by telling Gargantax she loves him. That distracts him enough for Conan to regain his feet, then cut him down to size. Gargantax dies, knowing Giselle didn't really love him. And Fafnir's still mad at Conan for stepping into his fight, again: maybe he would've died, but he would've died a man. He only had a couple more issues here, but would return much, much later as well! Oh, and no dragon this issue; but I think Conan covers around this time were more of crapshoot than usual. Read more!

Monday, August 21, 2023

I know dinosaurs are usually a lock for comic covers, but c'mon, Shako!

It's like a hundred degrees out, but I still went for a little bike ride for a far-sized fistful of comics, including another Quality reprint: from 1988, Scavengers #7, reprinting a good chunk of John Wagner and Pat Mills' Shako: the Only Bear on the C.I.A. Death List! (Art not credited here, but was probably Ramon Sola, Juan Arancio, Dodderio, and/or Lopez Vera.)
Mighty polar bear Shako had swallowed a top secret capsule, and while the CIA has been after it, today the KGB gets in on the action: they capture Shako, and don't want to kill him without contacting Moscow first, since they weren't sure why the Americans had seemingly declared war on a bear. However, there's always one guy, who thinks "I could totally take that bear," and vodka may be involved; so Shako gets out of his cage on the same page...look, 2000 AD progs don't have time or pages to dick about, try to keep up! Shako makes a rather leisurely escape from the Russians, since it was a whaling boat, and mmm, blubber! He gets knocked out by a bullet creasing his skull; just like a noir private detective or the Warlord; just in time for an American helicopter to grab him, but the Russians shoot the copter down, dumping Shako into the ocean.
Shako's Ahab, CIA chief Falmuth, is furious over losing the bear; he had already lost an arm and wasn't about to lose his job as well. When a massive walrus corpse is spotted, they figure Shako will be back for it later, and Falmuth orders one of his men to wait inside the walrus! That goes about as well as you'd figure; but Falmuth would get his shortly. Then, a final battle with ecologist Buck Dollar and the injured Shako, which ends...too tragically for me to go into. Man, I wish Shako had run for like 200 issues, getting his revenge on the world. His body count was like ten in just this issue; not counting the walrus. Read more!