Thursday, February 29, 2024

For reasons that I can't recall now, I had been trying to be more mindful about sleep--get to bed on time, that sort of thing--and it's done the opposite of help, I slept better just winging it. So why not stay up late...and read a comic with problems that were problems almost 40 years ago, that are still problems today. Ooh, that'll help. From 1987, Blue Beetle #16, "Anywhere I Hang My Head is Home!" Written by Len Wein, pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Danny Bulanadi. 

Blue Beetle's working the case of the "skid-row slasher," who seems to be preying on Chicago's homeless. Beetle had encountered him after a burglary of an experimental leukemia cure, and he had lost it while fleeing when he tripped over a homeless guy sleeping in a doorway. The slasher made his escape in the elevated train--gee, if only Beetle had something to give chase, like a bug-shaped airship--seriously, he could've beat him to the next terminal! Still, the bad guy escalated from burglary to murder really quickly, trying to get the homeless to tell him where the cure was, or the guy he tripped over at least. 

Beetle meets several of Chicago's homeless, including an older woman who is brave, articulate, and independent: he's momentarily concerned for her, but figures she can take care of herself. So, of course she's the next to die. Putting that aside, the homeless are treated better here than in a lot of comics of the time: they aren't thrilled about their circumstances, but aren't whiners about it, either. Despite having his own company, Beetle doesn't really have any answers for them: he wasn't Wayne-rich, and would be poorer shortly.
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Wednesday, February 28, 2024


Huh, it is training camp season for baseball types! Maybe you'll luck out and not get see-through pants

I thought about it for about three seconds, and of course it was Peter David on dialogue, for Secret Origins #32, featuring the Justice League of America, and a sequence where Hal Jordan tries a few exclamations before settling on "Great Guardians!" I will occasionally yell "sweet Smurfberry crunch" in exasperation, but probably not as often as...other words. Like Ralphie and my own kids, Talos is probably exposed to profanity on a near-constant basis, although in Talos's case I suspect it's directed at him at least sometimes.  

Also, this helpful post points out that yeet is the opposite of yoink, which might help you: you yoink something off of somebody else's plate, you yeet something out a window. If yeet had been in use back in what, 2005, when the Sentry yeets Carnage into the sun; that would've absolutely been the end of the character.  
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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

...when do we ever see Vic handcuff anybody? Feels like a Spirit cover.

I am unusually ahead in posts, as I type this; meaning I'll probably slack off again any minute now; but this maybe came up on BlueSky not too long ago, and I just so happen to have a spare copy handy! From 1989, the Question #26, "Riddles" Written by Denny O'Neil, pencils by Bill Wray, inks by Malcolm Jones III. 

I didn't read this new off the racks, so I'm trying to put it in historical context, a bit: this issue came out February 28, 1989: thirty-five years ago, tomorrow! Batman wouldn't yet have to be referred to as "Batman '89," since it wouldn't be widely released until June 23. And although I read it first, this issue predates Neil Gaiman and Bernie Mireault's "When is a Door" from the Secret Origins Special. But at this point, I think the Riddler, had very much lost his mojo. A lot of the Riddler's angrier, more murder-y tendencies from the Frank Gorshin version in the TV show, were being folded into the Joker, leaving the Riddler...with what? There had also already been a few stories where the Riddler's well-established modus operandi wasn't showboating or grandstanding, or a means to obfuscate the real target of a crime; but rather a sickness, a compulsion, and one he found impossible to resist. His riddles...had become a joke.
Case in point: in jail, Eddie Nygma is visited, not by the Caped Crusader, but by Commissioner Gordon. Who's figured out his riddle, which we don't hear, but it doesn't matter: the arresting officer didn't read Eddie his rights, so they're kicking him loose, because he's not worth the effort to prosecute. Gordon's trying to be kind, but tells Eddie he needs to quit: he was "a minor-leaguer with a gimmick...a small time has-been." Not even worth Batman's time, and he was only going to get himself hurt. (Gordon is also puffing away on his pipe like crazy, that seems like a lot of smoke! That would be phased out in a few years as well. I've never smoked a pipe, but I wish I had one of my grandpa's old ones; it'd make me look like I was thinking or something...)
Meanwhile, the Christmas season is a busy one in Hub City for the Question, as he beats up a pusher Santa and then a carjacker that tries to rob Vic Sage. Later, his mentor Tot lectures him for not taking enough care of himself, but Vic points out there's like one good cop in that part of the state, so he was kinda busy. He promptly collapses shortly thereafter. Elsewhere, Eddie was on a bus, riding through the snowy countryside, chatting with a fellow passenger: a woman who introduces herself as Sphinx Scromulski. Well, that's the name she used to strip under, anyway; but of course Eddie loves it. She asks if he wants in on something, showing him a fair-sized gun...(That looks like an Uzi, which was somewhat ubiquitous in action stories of the era!)
In his Volkswagon, Vic complains he didn't faint, while Tot tells him he absolutely did, so he's driving him to a cabin in the Hampshires until he heals up. Vic doesn't want to leave Hub, less because of duty, but because Myra was still in a coma: Tot points out, there wasn't anything he could do about that. Tot's plan then hits a snag, since he didn't gas up Vic's car before they took off. Not ideal, but at least they can catch a bus to the next town, so they won't freeze to death. Yay? Tot advises, they'll just have to make the best of whatever's available, just in time for Sphinx to start robbing the passengers, after she guns one down for trying to scold her back to her seat. Sphinx forces the driver to make a detour, and the bus is stuck in short order, but that's perfect for what she had in mind. Gotta say, while it doesn't seem like a lotta risk, robbing a passenger bus to Hub City doesn't seem like a high-value target.
About an hour's walk away, across an old bridge, was a small town, with food and a hotel: Sphinx tells the passengers, the Riddler will ask them a riddle, and if they get it right, they could stroll to safety. And if they get it wrong...she guns the first contestant down, and asks for a volunteer, then picks a guy; but Vic masks up, to try and "outsmart 'em." He's able to keep talking long enough to distract them by not having a face, and knock the gun from Sphinx's hands.
Sphinx makes a break for it, but falls through a rotted board in the old bridge, into the icy river. Riddler, Vic, and Tot continue their philosophical discussion by a garbage can fire; and Vic wonders what to do with him: it was Christmas, after all. Maybe let him loose if he could answer a riddle...? 

After this and the Secret Origins Special, I think that was it for Riddler until his comeback in Milligan and Dwyer's Dark Knight, Dark City, which made Eddie more violent and insane again. Well, it worked for him. Also, in both this and the Secret Origins Special, the Riddler seems to have fallen into the same trap as Dick Grayson but not weathered it as well: where Batman was portrayed as basically an unchanging 29, while the Riddler and Robin both appear to have aged like 15 years! I wondered before, if we've never seen the Question face a game-shape, formidable Riddler; what would that be like? Or has the Question already seen right through Eddie, and would the results be largely the same...?
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Monday, February 26, 2024

The Infinity Gauntlet + Daddy issues = a problem that'll probably sort itself out.

From 2015, What If? Infinity Dark Reign #1, "What If? the Green Goblin stole the Infinity Gauntlet?" Written by Joshua Williamson, art by Goran Sudzuka. 

 Ambrose Osborn is about to lay a whuppin' on young (and disobedient) Norman, when he's unexpectedly transported to the future, and the middle of the big fight towards the end of Siege. Which I know I have, but I'm not positive I've actually read? I know Norman goes off the rails pretty hard there, but here he's getting things under control, like taking down the Sentry with the Infinity Gauntlet! Captain America points out, maybe a lunatic like Norman shouldn't have that, but the assorted heroes are wiped out and Norman's Dark Avengers sent home, so Norman can have some time with his dad. Who maybe should've believed in him more: his kid grew up to be God! A petulant, fallible God, but still. Ambrose isn't overly impressed with Norman's tyranny, and that's before he shows him his greatest work...of art: the death of Gwen Stacy, a moment Spider-Man is locked in, forever. 

Since that doesn't bring dad on board, Norman uses the Gauntlet to change his mind, turning him into a sycophantic yes-man. But, when they return to Norman's tower, the Dark Avengers are dead, slaughtered by Thanos. Norman knows Thanos can't touch him while he has the Gauntlet, but Thanos might think he can get in his head: Daddy's never going to love you, even with the maybe doesn't play out soon enough, and Norman melts Thanos. 

Ambrose is proud of Norman, but when pressed "Why?" says it's because he's his son. Norman feels he should be proud of his accomplishments, and wipes him out of the timeline. It takes Norman a moment too long to realize, maybe he shouldn't have retroactively killed his dad, as he fades from existence, leaving the Gauntlet floating empty in space...
The Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode Reptilicus features the line "A fire in an aquarium? Eh, that'll sort itself out." Which is pretty much what happens here?
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Friday, February 23, 2024

Feel like there's a style guide for this.

I've had a copy of Marvel Team-Up #79 sitting next to my computer for a bit, but I'm trying to talk myself out of ordering a Red Sonja figure! Better blog this issue instead; you probably haven't seen it, anyway. From 1985, Red Sonja #7, "Harvest!" Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Rudy Nebres.
I'm not sure exactly where in the Hyborian Age today's book is set: "the savage steppes" is mentioned, so maybe Hyrkania? I ask, because the bad guys in this one are Mongols--not Mongol-like, but pretty much just an invading Mongol horde; and the king of the besieged city is a tsar. I don't think those terms were never used in Marvel's Conan books, but rarely: either Mantlo might not have written a lot of these and not been familiar with the usual terminology, or this was set further away from Conan's usual stomping grounds (a sizeable area!) to set it a bit apart. Anyway, Sonja and her companions Galon and Achmal join the defense of a doomed city, surrounded and starving; although the tsar swears the only weapon that can save them is their wheat. Gasp! Quadrotriticale! Um, no.
Like the majority of Sonja's companions, Galon is pining over her, but also knows that's not gonna happen. The captain of the tsar's guard also shoots his shot, but Sonja tells him she couldn't possibly date someone who was so about to die, which is for her letting him down easy? She thinks the tsar is insane, their position indefensible, and the situation pretty hopeless; and that's before the locals sink into cannibalism. Sonja finally opts to split, but the captain points out they'd never get through the horde; so she confronts the tsar, who seems to be hording grain for himself, but also seems younger and more together than before. Sonja still stabs him. But the tsar, even as he bleeds out, chides them for placing all their faith in steel, as he casts a spell, creating wheat soldiers that attack the Mongols. Stabbing them didn't do much, so the Mongols resort to burning the wheat-men, and are caught up in the blaze as well.
As they ride away, Achmal points out the dead Mongols were going to make great fertilizer, and their next harvest would probably be bountiful. Assuming it's not all murderous wheat-men, I guess. Weird day for Sonja. Read more!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

I'm mildly surprised I don't have more of a soft-spot for the Inhumans, since they appeared in some of the first instances of continuity I noticed in the Marvel U: from 1984, Avengers Annual #12, "Moonrise" Written by Bill Mantlo, breakdowns by Butch Guice, finishes by Rick Magyar. City on the moon--how did it get there? The Avengers are called in front of the National Security Council, who are giving the Fantastic Four the stinkeye, for helping the Inhumans move their city Attilan to the moon; in Fantastic Four #240, one of the first regular issues I read of that book! While the FF vouches for the Inhumans, the government is not trying to hear that. It's mildly surprising they aren't more pissed, but this was before every little thing would be justified by yelling "national security." Couple other things: I don't know when they lost it--maybe the Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. series--but I miss the old, boxy S.H.I.E.L.D. space platform; which lost Attilan's flight over Africa, possibly over Wakanda. Reed recaps the Inhumans history, and explains how they were being poisoned by man's pollution, then offers to go to the moon to open up formal diplomatic relations; but since this is their comic, duh, that's gonna be the Avengers' job.
It's a pretty solid roster, and Cap and Wanda are pretty happy to see Quicksilver, whose wife Crystal had recently given birth to Luna. While the Inhumans' royals are a bit weird, everyone's getting along well, although there's a weird side trip to pay respects to Black Bolt's brother, Maximus--usually known as "the Mad"--in state, in a glass coffin. Maximus had betrayed the Inhumans to the Enclave--the scientists that built Adam Warlock! Then he turned on them, but was killed driving them off. But Lockjaw, sniffing the coffin, notices "an impossible scent," and later Medusa confides in Wanda that Black Bolt had been inexplicably distant of late...Later that night, "Black Bolt" visits "Maximus," and speaks!
Cap gets a message from S.H.I.E.L.D. that someone is launching moon rocks at earth, and Thor has to fly into action to stop them. Tensions rise, until Black Bolt signals attack; which the Inhumans go along with, since he was the king, right? Quicksilver sides with them, attacking Captain Marvel; the Avengers make a pretty poor showing until Cap starts to turn the tide, by finally getting his shield out of Lockjaw's bite! A steamed She-Hulk was about to pop Black Bolt one: this was early in her career, and she impulsively forgot, if Black Bolt spoke, he could probably blow a good chunk off the moon. So it's surprising when instead, he whines at her: of course, he was really Maximus. Lockjaw leads the heroes to free Black Bolt, who remains silent, so it's hard to tell how pissed he was; and Black Bolt quickly takes down the Enclave and the Alpha Primitives they were using as slaves. (They were slaves: the Alpha Primitives really drive a stake through the heart of any likeability the Inhumans have.) The Inhumans promise peaceful relations in the future; and lived fairly quietly on the moon for at least a decade or two thereafter? I feel like the next time I would see them in a comic would be New Warriors #6 in 1990, but that can't be right...
No take! Only throw! Read more!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024


I know I haven't read every Squadron Supreme story, but while I've seen a few times where the Skrull is mentioned giving the future Doctor Spectrum his Power Prism; I think there's been some that allude to the Skrull serving a stint on the team, like some Gumby-looking alien sourpuss on some other team--hey! Yeah, it's a nod to the Martian Manhunter, but I don't think "Skymax" or the Skrullian Skymaster has made enough appearances or got enough page time to ever have been given much characterization. In classic Squadron continuity, the Skrulls were largely extinct, so he might've been the last of his race; very DC-traditional. We're playing pretty loose with continuity ourselves, since like I said, I don't even know how many Squadrons or Squadron-derivatives are on 616-earth lately. 

Chocos are of course J'onn J'onzz's cookie of choice, although in the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League issues establishing his vice, it was simply Oreos at first. Kaleidos are also real; a semi-local store brand, allegedly pretty good? If you were to buy a ton of cookies to taste-test, I suppose.  

Power Princess rattles off the "utility positions" they were looking to fill for the Squadron:  usually, their "magic chick" was Arcanna, who of course is based on Zatanna. Satana isn't based on her, and aside from the similarity of their names, is she a good fit? The Princess thinks so, possibly because she wants a drinking buddy. Poor Machine Man has been conscripted for the Red Tornado slot: I don't recollect the Squadron usually having a robot member, except maybe Tom Thumb's helpers. Also, MM's purple finish still looks sharp, but I almost wish Hasbro would knock out a red-finish version, like in his limited series, set in the far-off future, four years ago?

Oh, and should Nick have known about Talos's past? Enh, time for more Secret Invasion complaining: that show made it seem like not only did Nick not do a great job, but the Skrulls might have carried him, for years? Like they did all the spying and Nick got the credit and the rep.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Some time back we took a look at Madame X #1, part of a DC event referencing National Comics, which was the company's earlier name. Today we get the same sort of thing from Marvel, formerly Timely: from 2009, USA Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1, written by John Arcudi, art by Steve Ellis.
We've mentioned WWII hero the Destroyer before, but aside from him working behind enemy lines, I forget his deal; and there may have been conflicting versions over the years. One thing remains consistent: he hates him some Nazis, as he blows up a trainload of them, saving only a reporter. The reporter was German, but not a Nazi, and while terrified was brave enough to try and warn some soldiers that they were about to get murdered: he tells the Destroyer, he can't really see the difference between them. Somehow, the Destroyer accepts that, but takes the reporter along on an elaborate plan, to steal a train and ram it into a concentration camp.
The Destroyer shows the reporter the truth about what was happening in his country, and the reporter realizes why the Destroyer wears the odd striped 'circus' pants: he had been a POW at some point. I don't know if the rationale for the pants had been established before, but it works. Also this issue: a reprint of the Stan Lee Destroyer story from 1941's All-Winners Comics #3, "The Secret Tunnel of Death!" Surprisingly high body count for a Stan Lee story there. (Art maybe by Chad Grothkopf and John Forte.) Read more!

Monday, February 19, 2024

Needle drop! Tired, obvious needle drop, but sure.

Huh, I thought the song started with "whoo who" or whatever. From 1987, Mephisto Vs. #2, "Sympathy for the Devil" Written by Al Milgrom, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Bob Wiacek.
It's been years since I've read this series, but I grabbed two issues from the quarter bin recently; and I think Mephisto was trying to pull a trading scheme like we saw Huey, Dewey, and Louis do, except with souls. Start with nothing, then keep trading up, until he had Thor's soul. And I think Mephisto lets slip, he started with nothing: X-Factor thought he had the Invisible Woman's soul; but he just had her as hostage. But, if they made a deal based on bad info, well, that's on them! This issue is also maybe not a load-bearing piece, but is lodged right into then-current continuity; in a brief window when X-Factor was still running their fake mutant-hunter cover, Warren was in the hospital post-Mutant Massacre, and Scott's wife and kid were MIA but presumed still alive. None of the team does real well, but Scott seems to get repeatedly clowned and/or screaming ineffectually for Jean. I had needle drops in mind, since I had been writing posts at a pretty good clip, then got sucked into watching Preacher on Shudder! It's not as good as the comic, sure; and I maybe wouldn't have made Hitler a recurring character; but I like the actors and the music. And this extrapolates from a brief scene in the book! Read more!