Friday, March 29, 2024

I didn't expect to see special K with this cowled vigilante...

Despite being seemingly more popular than ever, Batman doesn't seem to enjoy ketamine at all in today's book: from 1996, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #52, "Safe as Milk!" Written by Alan Grant, pencils by Dave Taylor, inks by Joe Rubinstein. (I'm not sure that title actually appears in the issue!)
New bad guy Narcosis got Batman last month with a blast of hallucinogenic gas, which Bats seems to know the mix of from his hangover the next day: he's been dosed with a lot of stuff over the years! He knew Narcosis planned on releasing his drug on all of Gotham, but how...I know! In the ink of the Daily Bugle--nah, that'd never work. But what...
Bats has a momentarily relapse with his coffee, but it still takes a bit more puzzling with Alfred and Robin before he realizes, in the milk! Batman and Robin make a rare-for-the-era daytime appearance, since Narcosis had taken over a dairy. Robin has to stop the delivery truck, while Batman chases the villain over rickety and precarious railings, that seem more suited for Axis Chemicals than a dairy. Batman unmasks Narcosis in the fight, since he had no clue who the guy was: not a disgruntled employee or anything simple. Still, he can't place the face, or lack of same.
As a child, Narcosis's parents had been "a lush and a thief," and while he loved them just fine, child protective services took him away. And kept him safe as houses--for about a week, before he was left unattended in a kitchen, and managed to pull a boiling hot pot onto his face. Ten years in a hospital, skin grafts that didn't take, nightmares...Narcosis's grudge against the city seems more reasonable all the time! (Still, like I keep saying, just because something bad happened to you, doesn't mean it should happen to someone else.) Trying to cave in Batman's skull with a pipe, he goes over the side, into a vat filled with his mix, and gets megadosed, seemingly trapped in a nightmare forever. 

Not a bad villain for a throwaway! Although, he does vaguely resemble Dr. Destiny, another villain with a sleep connection and face problems. Also, there's an ad for Twister--the movie, duhr--on the back of this one; I wonder if there will be ads for the sequel on comics this year.  
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Thursday, March 28, 2024

More of this sounds dirtier than anything actually there...I think.

I keep grabbing random issues of Marvel Comics Presents from the quarter bins, and we saw the previous issue a couple years back, but I read the series for quite a while: I know I read all through the Black Panther serial, and that was like 25 parts? (It ended with MCP #37; and I would've kept going for the Excalibur serial, which...enh.) Picking this up, I almost thought I messed up the numbering, though. From 1993, Marvel Comics Presents #133.
In "Alone Against the Coven," a vacation isn't in the cards for Wolverine, as the Coven plans on sacrificing him to maybe bring an age of enlightenment. Or darkness. Maybe enlightened darkness? Vex, Satyr, and Fetish don't give Wolvie too much trouble, but Blood Shadow puts him down for the count; and he wakes up, manacled to a recurring foe in that book: Cyber! (Written by Dan Slott, art by Steve Lightle.) I don't know if I've ever known Cyber's origin, or if he was ever given much more characterization than "dick who's pretty cocky Wolverine can't immediately kill him."
The previous issue featured the conclusion of an Iron Fist serial, so I wasn't expecting to see another one start for him here! He's not on top of his game, but manages to step it up after his recent return from the dead. Still, coming up, a rematch with Sabretooth! Who didn't seem as ridiculously swole as he would usually be around then, this was after Jim Lee redesigned him. ("Depths of Despair, part 1 of 4: Opening Gambit" Written by Tony Matias, pencils by Fred Haynes, inks by Jeff Albrecht.)
Ghost Rider and Cage would probably agree, they don't seem like a good match; but their serial continues with "Heart and Soul, part 3 of 6: Emotional Rescue" Written by Karl Bollers, pencils by Freddy Mendez, inks by Malcolm Jones. The killer Darklove is seemingly in both of their heads; with Ghost Rider seemingly unable to change back into Danny Ketch. There's also an odd sequence where Cage is talking to the press, and a guy shoots him; seemingly just another excuse for his shirt to get shredded. Did I miss a lot in the one chapter of this I haven't read?
Lastly, it's Cloak & Dagger vs. a vampire, in "Nocturnal Cravings" (Written by Chuck Kim, pencils by Walter McDaniels, inks by Greg Adams.) The vampire pushes Cloak too far, to the point that Dagger has to defend her...why, though? She gets him to leave her to Doctor Strange--yeah, 'cause he'd done a bang-up job there--and as usual, Cloak wonders if he might go bad. Read more!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024


So, our Squadron here is the one created by Mephisto; and probably see themselves as more American than Captain America making an apple pie on Flag Day. Only, they embody American values like shutting up and doing what you're told, line goes up, and if you're not with us you're against us. 'Murica!

Ooh, it's been a few years, but we've long-established a not-especially-friendly rivalry between Wanda, the Scarlet Witch; and Satana. Usually, with Wanda treating her with fawning faux-politeness, and Sat with barely-contained rage. I'm not positive Kate would have ever met her, but of course she knows her kids.

Hopefully, no more doors or tires or anything have fallen off of any more planes since I wrote this. 
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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

I'm sharing some scans with you, but that's it! This issue's mine, mine, mine!

That happens sometimes, and I'm almost surprised it doesn't happen more often; where I pick up a random comic to blog--in this case, just because it was on a nearby shelf--and then find part of the creative team is a dick I don't even wanna mention. On to another book, that I'm already looking at suspiciously! From 2013, Larfleeze #1, "The Extremely Large Dog on the Edge of Forever!" Plot and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, script by J.M. DeMatteis, art by Scott Kolins.
Far off in space, at the "Creation Point" where "matter becomes energy (and vice versa)" Larfleeze and his "conscripted butler" Pulsar Stargrave, have about 15 minutes left to live, before the charge runs out on his ring. Having destroyed all of his possessions, except Stargrave, Larfleeze didn't seem to feel he had anything to live for. Stargrave tries to talk him into maybe choosing life, which of course prompts a retelling of Larfleeze's life story...
Probably should be a content warning on this issue, since like Miracleman #9, it features graphic depiction of childbirth, namely Larfleeze's mom giving birth to him in a field; and hardly the "momentous occasion" he describes it as: he was the youngest of sixteen, possibly more, since his family had already sold a few. Then, his planet is invaded, Larfleeze was enslaved, then later forced to mate and sire several children; which Stargrave claims weren't mentioned the last time he was bored by--uh, heard, that story. As the story goes on, it gets to when Larfleeze stole "the Parallax Essence" and was pursued by the Manhunters; which would have been several billion years ago, and Larfleeze notes he was at least two million years old by that point: his race was "virtually immortal," which seems weird considering they seem to breed a lot. I suppose he's only immortal as long as nothing kills him? Despite being a completely unreliable narrator, the flashback pages have corners as in a scrapbook, like these are precious memories to hold on to. (Shakes fist, Homer Simpson-voice) Cherish them...
Eventually, Larfleeze stole the orange power battery; killing his partners in crime to keep it for himself. But, the story had to have taken over fifteen minutes--or felt like it, at any rate--so Stargrave realizes Larfleeze was now an organic battery. This revelation is interrupted by a colossal hound, that swallows Larfleeze. Larfleeze blows it up, but the hound's master, "the Laord of the Hunt" then arrives, wondering what happened to his dog. Still, this has given Larfleeze a new reason to live: to get new, more stuff! This series would only run like 12 issues and without looking I'm curious how many of those were crossovers...huh, maybe none? I wouldn't have bet on that. Larfleeze's mother shows up a few more times, at least as a hallucination, with the unfortunate name "Larfloozee," which is so Giffen and DeMatteis I can't stand it. Also, Pulsar Stargrave was an obscure Legion of Super-Heroes baddie, who looked far more robust in the 30th century: maybe he started a workout regimen between now and then. Read more!

Monday, March 25, 2024

It was really nice the other afternoon, so I went for a little bike ride and picked up a couple books, including this one I maybe hadn't read before: from 2008, Moon Knight #23, "The Death of Marc Spector, chapter three" Written by Mike Benson, layouts by Javier Saltares, finishes by Mark Texeira.
This was after the death of Steve Rogers, with Norman Osborn currently the director of the Thunderbolts, and the book opens with him reading Moonstone the riot act since the team had thus far failed to bring in "this joke, this moon freak, this D-list of a punch line." (Moonstone is more compliant here than usual, but I'm not sure she even gets a word in edgewise; she might just be letting Norman rant himself out.) As usual, Norman will take care of things himself, and had a plan already, starting with a member of a gang called the Whyos: the gang member wore a Riddler-esque derby hat, to cover up the moon-shaped scar carved into his forehead. Meanwhile, Moon Knight was also dealing with a horrible boss; as Khonshu appears to him, to tell him they were done. Khonshu was still manifesting as the skinned-face Bushman, but here looks more like the suit-wearing Red Skull of the 90's; as he tells Marc he had "other clients." (We would see other disciples of Khonshu much later, but I'm not sure it came back up in Benson's run.)
The next day, the Whyos attack a trendy gay restaurant, with a few slurs and some Clockwork Orange-style ultraviolence. Frenchie's boyfriend, Rob, is badly beaten, before Frenchie gets there to tear into them and drive them off. Rob is hospitalized, and it is uncertain if he would make it: Marlene visits Frenchie, but after a suicide attempt, Frenchie reaches out to long-time informant Crawley for info on the Whyos, and attacks them with a baseball bat. This gets him shot a bit, but Moon Knight arrives to help out: Frenchie is pissed Crawley called him, but he'd have been sunk on his own. Moon Knight gives chase to the last Whyo, putting two crescent-darts in his legs; but the Whyo is seemingly unconcerned, as he has his own backup: Venom! (I think this would be the Mac Gargan Venom; he did not have a great track record there.) Weird, because Bullseye gets the cover; he was still an issue or two out.  Read more!

Friday, March 22, 2024

Bask in the glory of Ikaris's Billy Ray Cyrus mullet! I'm sure that's keeping in Kirby's vision there.

Technically, Convergence is probably a better crossover...he typed, grudgingly. But, did this one have anything going for it? From 1994, Quasar #55, "In a Stranger Land" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by John Heebink, inks by Aaron McClellan.
We looked at--okay, we lambasted--Starblast #4 some time back, but this was a mere six issues into the crossover...say, what did this crossover with, anyway? There's a ton of heroes here with Quasar and not a one of them had their own title at the time! Looking it up, besides the four-issue titular limited series and Quasar, Starblast had tie-ins with Namor, Fantastic Four, and Secret Defenders; but those three might not have had much to do with the main storyline and might be "red skies" crossovers at best. Anyway, Quasar's put together a solid crew of hitters, whether or not they could carry their own title; to go after aliens that kidnapped his girl Kayla Ballantine, to try and get the Star Brand from her. Here, the heroes have commandeered a ride with the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, but at the cost of the injured Hyperion. Gladiator takes them to the world of the Stranger, but can go no further: the Shi'ar had a treaty with the big freak, to keep him from experimenting on their citizens. Although, three new members of the Imperial Guard, had been imprisoned and experimented on by the Stranger, and want revenge; they quit to join Quasar's forces.
Also this issue, Nightmask wakes up: he had been racked, and wrecked, by guilt after the War, which I believe was the last New Universe title before it appeared in Quasar. Nightmask knows something is coming, but also seems resigned that no one is going to believe him and he's going to have to take action himself. (He seemed to prefer being asleep, and I can relate!) Quasar's guys fight Skeletron's alien pirates on the Stranger's world, and do pretty well, except for Vanguard, who is about to get killed here shortly; and his sister Darkstar would hold a grudge against Quasar later. 

Also also this issue, the U.S. Postal Service Statement of Ownership, which I'll crib from the GCD rather than read the fine print: Total Number Copies Printed (net press run): Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 81,213. Single issue nearest to filing date: 48,710. Ow, that feels like a dip.
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Thursday, March 21, 2024

"Spies Unlike Us."

I've been somewhat limited, or perhaps more mindful, of my action figure purchases so far this year; but recently sprang for not only the Hawkeye/Skycycle set, but also the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Trooper and HYDRA Trooper, ladies edition. In a remarkable display of foresight, or that happenstance I'm always on about, I bought multiples of the Quake/Maria Hill figure, in preparation for getting the latter set: there were three unmasked female heads, as well as a S.H.I.E.L.D. helmeted one. (The heads could go to the HYDRA lady as well, although chances are they'd tend to only use the white one. I don't think HYDRA necessarily is racist front-and-center like the Sons of the Serpent, but COBRA seems like a more diverse organization, and it wasn't super diverse...) This does mean I have multiple Controller arms floating about, not really much to do with that; as well as a few alternate heads and hands and Quake's armband pieces.
I thought I had more S.H.I.E.L.D. guys, like our old H.A.T.E. pal Dirk Anger there. I was going to see if I could swap out the hands and put the Quasar bands on, but there's a cuff-lip on the forearms of that one. I also need to dig up the rest of my HYDRA goons: I have several of the old HYDRA soldier from 2007, and need to see what my forces look like now. Read more!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024


It's been a long time, but I swear the Super-Skrull and probably Paibok needed power broadcast or transmitted to them; at least in early appearances. I can't remember if that was a plot point in the Secret Invasion comic, since everything I've read from that keeps falling out of my head?

And, this Squadron is different than the one from the James Robinson series a couple years back; which featured Namor getting his head punched off but he was brought back before the end of the series by the repentant team. No, this Squadron is probably the most recent, but we'll get into that more later.
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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Team work makes the--no, no. Stop it.

We saw the previous issue some time back, and it sucked; but I'm hitting this one now to remind me I have read it! From 2015, Convergence #6, "Team Work" Written by Jeff King and Scott Lobdell, pencils by Ed Benes and Eduardo Pansica; inks by Ed Benes, Trevor Scott, Scott Hanna, and Wayne Faucher.
Last month, Deimos seemingly killed Travis Morgan, and was rallying several alternate reality versions of heroes and villains to his banner, claiming to be the only their only chance at survival. He also has the Yolanda Montez/Wildcat to talk to; although she doesn't seem Hispanic here, and I'm also not sure if Deimos thinks he can turn her, or just likes having a pretty girl around. While Dick Grayson (from Earth-2? Ah, whatever) gathers up guys for the good side; Deimos seems to have the Extremists, and multiple characters from Kingdom Come and Flashpoint, including both Flashpoint-Aquaman and Wonder Woman; and they were the primary characters on either side of that conflict: that would be like getting Hitler and Stalin on the same page! Either Deimos is a remarkable negotiator, or narrative convenience wins out here.
(Please excuse the horrible photo, that wouldn't fit in the scanner for the double-page spread.) I'm trying to think of another crossover with such a swing in quality from the spin-offs to the main storyline; because I think some of the individual Convergence mini-series might have been way more readable than this. Or, it's entirely possible I'm still mad from the previous issue, but so what if I am? I know Deimos gets replaced as the series' big-bad before the end; but he maybe made it an issue further than I thought. Read more!

Monday, March 18, 2024

Between the Fly, Blue Devil, and this; 1986 was a great year for practical special effects.

I don't think I loved this issue at first glance, but it might be winning me over. From 1986, The Thing #31, "Devil Dinosaur: the Movie!" Written by Mike Carlin, breakdowns by Ron Wilson, finishes by Kim DeMulder.
The Thing's sparring match with bald wrassler/copyright infringer Mr. Clean gets broken up, by an official from the National Safety Commission, who seems like an officious toad but has a point: Ben gets thrown into what would have been the crowd, and probably would've taken out several spectators. Still, the official says there's a workaround; a transparent shell, that they can set up in two weeks; which means Ben might have some time off. Troublingly, Ben has a dizzy spell, while taking some razzing from young Vance Astro (prior to his New Warriors days) as he packs to go visit Sharon Ventura, who was filming a movie out in the Pacific. Even Ben isn't sure what their relationship was, but she is happy to see him, and had several friends, so how bad could it be? Although, he might change his tune, when a dinosaur suddenly appears!
Ben punches out "Devil Dinosaur," and immediately realizes his error: it was a special effect for the movie! Ben is contrite, but Sharon is the one to get yelled at: although the FX guy claims it's like fifty grand worth of work, she brushes it off as a few hours work, whatever. Still, maybe Ben didn't have to leap into action for every little thing...The next day, Sharon is suited up ala "Moon Girl," and picked up by prop pterodactyls; and Ben rushes to save her from a fall--ruining a shot, as she would've hit a hidden airbag. Pouting on the beach, Sharon visits him to let him know it was okay, but Ben is momentarily distracted by something out in the water. Nah, couldn't be!
Later, the sets are mysteriously leveled, forcing the crew to pull an all-nighter to rebuild them: Ben thinks that should maybe be looked into, but his help isn't exactly welcome. The next day, as Sharon prepares for a shot, Ben sequesters himself in a trailer, hits the fridge, and resolves to ignore whatever was going on. Not even Godzilla himself was going to get him out there--hey, wait a minute! This was the Doctor Demonicus mutated Godzilla, that showed up a few times after his Marvel series. While Sharon and the other actresses flee, the FX guy sacrifices Devil, sending him by remote to interrupt the attacking not-Zilla, who loses interest and heads back into the ocean after smashing his foe. Regardless, the producers call it: they were pulling out, and they'll sell the footage to Ripley's to recoup their losses.

Sharon initially tells Ben it was nothing, but has to admit yeah, that was not business as usual today. Still, she isn't quite ready to start seeing Ben; which isn't surprising, since he brought up his fantasy girl Tarianna. "You look exactly like my fantasy girl" is a red flag, Ben!
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Friday, March 15, 2024

It doesn't seem sporting to put "End of the Line" on part 2 of 3.

From 1993, Punisher War Zone #18, "The Jericho Syndrome, part 2 of 3" Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, pencils by Hugh Haynes, inks by Rodney Ramos.
Frank, Microchip, and Inuit corporate troubleshooter Jack Oonuk are trying to stop blackmailer and saboteur "the Architect," who targets dams and bridges with engineering know-how. He had been targeting the "Pan Allied" corporation, which was caving and going to pay a four billion dollar ransom, to keep him from destroying a suspension bridge: Frank knows they think that will get him out of their hair, but it would only encourage more extortion. While Frank had intended to just plant a tracer and follow the Architect, he's spotted, and the whole thing goes south: Jack gets shot a couple times, albeit saved by Kevlar. The thugs get away with the bearer bonds, while Frank, Micro, and Jack have to stop "vibrational units" from shaking the bridge apart, which is a bit sci-fi for the title but probably the only way to do that thing without a lot of explosives.
While his crew is pleased with their haul, the Architect doesn't give a crap: he really, really wanted to blow that bridge; and takes out his frustration by stabbing one of his own guys with...I thought it was a compass, but it appeared to be pointy on both ends? An architect tool I don't recognize. He quickly finds a new target, that would get back at both Pan Allied and Jack: an oil rig, in the Northwestern Territories. 

I had to go back and look over War Zone covers, since while this was perfectly cromulent Punisher stuff, I would've fallen off the book just a couple months prior; with the conclusion of the "Psychoville" brainwashing storyline in #16. Even with Mike McKone art, that was five issues and a bit long; but I absolutely loved the Rosalie Carbone/seven hitmen in #7-11, which was mostly Chuck Dixon/John Romita Jr, and I wanna say came out on a six-week schedule? Every time we got a new issue, some friends and I would read it, but had to say "Previously, on Punisher War Zone..." before we started reading. It was fun at the time!
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