Monday, July 24, 2017

Better security than Arkham, anyway.


I'm 100% for destigmatizing mental illness, but sometimes in comics (and video games based on comics) you get the hordes of violent lunatics rioting in the asylum. Like today's book! From 1994, the Spectacular Spider-Man #217, featuring "Power and Responsibility, Part 4 of 4: Higher Ground!" Written by Tom DeFalco, art by Sal Buscema; and "The Double, Part Four: The Burial" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Liam Sharp, inks by Robin Riggs.

This was early in the Clone Saga, with the return of the supposed clone Ben Reilly, coming home to a violent and depressed Peter Parker. Forced to team-up to stop a...y'know, I was going to say 'breakout,' but it's more of a behavioral science experiment, courtesy of Judas Traveller. And his staff, or entourage, or whatever. (One of whom, Scrier, would show up in Silver Surfer later, although it may have been retconned that they didn't have powers, and the whole thing was a scam.) Here, Traveller uses one of his staff, Chakra, to backdate a letter casting doubt on whether or not he was the real Judas Traveller. Y'know, there's being mysterious, and there's being a dick.

Carnage also appears, primarily to be jobbed out; as Peter and Ben team up to whomp on him. Which is fine, Carnage also sucks. (Also this issue: tips for the Maximum Carnage video game!) In the end, Ben is apparently killed in an explosion, but of course escapes unseen: judging from what appears to be a lettering correction, it may have been left open to kill him back off if needed, but there's an ad with his Scarlet Spider costume here so the storyline continued...

This was also a flipbook, with shiny covers on both sides! That were in pretty good shape when I bought it out of the quarter bin, but are curling up like a Frito now. Maybe it's too hot in here...The back-up is a retcon of Amazing Spider-Man #149 from Ben's POV, including waking up in the smokestack that Peter abandoned his corpse in. I know I'd have some hurt feelings after that one. Even the art is somewhat of a retroactive change, as Sharp draws both Spidey's in a modern style, rather than the 70's less-webby and smaller-eyed costumes. (I'm not sure what happened to his red back-spider in the scan above, though.)

Duhr, I thought I had mentioned Ravencroft Asylum Institute before around here: it was a fairly recent addition to the Spidey mythos, and was basically his version of Arkham. It strikes me that Spidey had multiple villains that were pretty obviously insane, but rarely seemed to be treated for it, and were usually thrown in prison if caught. Then again, I think several of his villains have also feigned insanity and escaped, possibly more than once!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Grudgingly, I admit this would be darker than our current timeline. But only barely.


There are some issues of What If? that are awesome, even inspirational; and then the vast majority read as Worst Case Scenario: the Series. Today's book may not be the earliest example, but may be the epitome: from 1982, What If? #32, "What If...the Avengers had Become the Pawns of Korvac?" Story and layouts by Mark Gruenwald, finished art by Greg LaRocque, with plot input by Peter Sanderson and a small platoon of inkers!

Even though I'm not sure I had read an Avengers comic at that point, I remember seeing the old Bullpen Bulletins page mentioning the conclusion to the Korvac Saga, which ran a then-unprecedented ten (!) issues, from Avengers #167 to #177. And there's a pretty good recap of it here, before things go off the rails.

If Korvac's beloved, Carina, had not shown doubt in him at a crucial moment, Korvac would've gone on to not only destroy the Avengers, but the entire universe! It's kind of a downer. Early in his campaign to universal armageddon, Korvac boxes out Zeus and Odin from avenging their sons, and goes on to close access to the universe from other dimensions...is that Jesus on the bottom there? (No, it's Aquarian. Probably? Damn, that earth is in trouble.)

If you've read a lot of What If? you may remember the brief coda in What If? #43, where after being kicked out of the universe by Korvac, Phoenix, Dr. Strange, and the Silver Surfer return to find it destroyed! Also a downer, but that issue has a Sienkiewicz cover for Conan, trapped in the 20th century! Conan stabs Captain America, but that story's way more uplifting than these two, trust me.

Y'know, I'm always surprised when I see Gruenwald's name for art credits; I always forget he did pencils (or at least layouts) for the first Hawkeye limited. And looking at that last page again, I'm almost positive I read this off of the spinner rack when I was 11!
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

If you wanted the new Dr. Who to look like this, I don't feel bad for you, son.


This was a quarter bin find I had never seen before, and feels like a throwback or a fill-in issue--it's right in the middle of the Detroit League era, with an old artist, and a different writer, although one that had another book on the racks the same month. From 1985, Justice League of America #240, "The Future Ain't What it Used to Be!" Written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Mike Sekowsky, inks by Tom Mandrake. (Dr. Anomaly co-created by Richard Howell.)

The letters column notes this was a fill-in, written by Busiek in 1984; but you can see a few themes that he would use later (about ten years later!) in Astro City. Two co-workers at S.T.A.R. Labs, who may or may not be becoming a couple, have spotted a mysterious human figure on the "chronal scanner." The scientist is able to see the figure's history; and while the phrase "the fantastic fingers of Fred!" sounds like something a lab geek would say, they shouldn't.

The figure is Dr. Phineas Quayle, from 1932. Deep in the Great Depression, he helps out as best he can, but wonders what a physicist can do to solve it. The expression at the time was "prosperity is just around the corner," and the doctor figures he could invent a time machine, go forward to figure out what solved the Depression, and bring the answer back. (Google "what solved the Depression," and you get the answer World War II; I shudder to think how he would've brought that back.) Building a "telechron," he travels forward to the sixties, and isn't that impressed with a dead president, counter-culture, and super-heroes. Bah! Individualism!

Quayle decides to return to 1932 and try to stop that future from happening, but his machine only functions one-way. Using "modern" technology, he's able to create time weapons, but laments being unable to go back: he also looks into the near-future, and likes that even less. With no other choice now, he decides to get down to fixing the problem...super-heroes. Actually, it could've been anything: video games, women drivers, TV dinners. He would've picked something, blamed it, and fought it to the best of his ability. Of course, he also sees himself as "the only right-thinking American left in this era," which strikes me as troubling: if he was so smart, how come he couldn't fix 1932? Jerk. Calling himself Dr. Anomaly, he decides to start at the top, with Superman himself, and a weapon he can't defend against...since it hadn't been invented yet!

Anomaly uses the teleporter technology from the future's JLA satellite to trap Supes, and quickly follows up with Batman, Aquaman, and Hawkman. The S.T.A.R. scientists realize Anomaly couldn't have wiped out Superman, since he was still in the news regularly, and wonder if they were looking at an alternate timeline. Nope, just impatient: while Anomaly fights Wonder Woman, the Atom, Flash, and Green Lantern; Superman manages to free himself, destroying Anomaly's lab as well. Trapped, he jumps into the timestream, but with no set destination is stuck--until the chronal scanner gives him an out! Freed in 1985, he decides to plan more in his attempts to save the world; but he never appeared again, so maybe he decided eh, good enough. And the scientists head out to dinner, to talk about their own futures...

With the focus on civilians, and a character appearing in different eras, Dr. Anomaly might've been better served as an Astro City villain. Too bad he didn't see that future, eh?
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Exchange."


What Deadpool did in his mercenary past, and how much of that he was actually responsible for (and not brainwashed or misled or such) is open to interpretation with each writer. Currently, I think the answer is Pool did horrible crimes while mind-controlled, so while he feels guilty he's also ultimately not responsible for a lot of it. Unless that's changed since I post this.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Probably not tournament legal, but oh well.


Remember Attacktix? Apparently I didn't as well as all that, since I thought it was "Attackclix" and related to Heroclix. Close! This was Hasbro's attempt to get in on dial-based gaming, with a bit more of an emphasis the action figure end of things: dice weren't even needed, the figures all had either spring-loaded projectiles, or spring-powered swinging weapons. Various series were released in 2005-06 for Star Wars, Transformers, and Marvel. I know I had at least a few of those; but they are probably mostly found at yard sales these days.

Huh, there's an Attacktix wikia. From what I can piece together, maybe only two series of Marvel Attacktix were released, but that doesn't mean they weren't made. Case in point: an "unproduced" Nightcrawler Attacktix!

I think the dials were usually black; the eBay auction mentioned the silver of it specifically. There is a little wheel/clicking mechanism in the dial, which spins to show a number: usually a red or white 10, with a 9 and an 11 in there as well. I'm not sure what that gets you in terms of the game, or if that's even a playable dial or a placeholder. The waist turns, but if it's spring-loaded, it's only barely. Can't get a good swing out of it, but that's all right, since I thought the paint was very nice for something that might've "fallen off the back of a truck," as it were. (There is a stray black line on his right cheek.) Or had some of these been made, then the line was cancelled, and they were just left in storage?

Still, this is virtually tailor-made for me: an "unproduced" collectible that doesn't break the bank. Now, if I could just squeeze some more room into my Nightcrawler display...



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Monday, July 17, 2017

This mini-series spans over thirty years, maybe I'll get the missing issue before that long.


I got the first three issues for less than the price of one at the comic show, then got #5 off the rack at the comic shop, ordered #6, and maybe they can get #4 on back order: from this year, Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 #1-6, written by Jeff Parker and Marc Andreyko, pencils by David Hahn, inks by Karl Kesel.

The fun thing about the comics based on the classic shows, is that their voice nails that tone perfectly, but is able to do things the shows would never have had the budget for. This story starts in World War II, when a young Bruce Wayne meets Wonder Woman, as she stops R'as al Ghul and some Nazis from stealing a pair of antique books that might contain the secret location of Paradise Island.

There is a little more darkness in this one than you might think, since Batman has retired by 1977, after the deaths of Alfred and the Joker; while Robin has become Nightwing and Batgirl is the new Commissioner Gordon! (A younger, hotter, and far more competent one!) Still, it's not a spoiler to say you can't keep Batman down. And the conclusion hints at a future installment, that I'd love to see.

And I actually did get #4 just yesterday! Now, where did I put these...
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Friday, July 14, 2017

Art Adams, Kevin Maguire, and Ty Templeton on this one? Sold!


And Bizarro? Whoa, I'm already sold, quit selling! From 1990, Superboy #8, "But Am It Art?" Written by John Moore, pencils by Jim Mooney, inks by Art Adams. Cover by Maguire and Templeton.

This series was based on the syndicated TV show that ran four seasons from 1988 to 1992, which was run late night Saturdays in my neck of the woods, so I rarely saw it. Still, even if this wasn't the traditional continuity, with a college-age Clark; it's still a pretty recognizable Superboy. Even though Lana Lang is in this one too, Clark spends a lot of the issue with his co-worker at the Herald, photographer Janelle Cisernos. Unlike Clark, she's not devoted to journalism, just an art student working on the side; but she's observant and does a good job. Good enough to notice Clark's kinda buff, not good enough to notice he's Superboy! Still, when Bizarro returns from space, Janelle gets the idea to use him as part of her art installation. With mixed results: Bizarro is mostly harmless, and kept docile with cartoons, but apt to get riled if they're interrupted.

There is a subplot about Bizarro's instability, and how he might explode; but white Kryptonite stabilized him to the point where he only blows up a little. Bizarro heads out into space to make his own art, while Janelle is a surprise success. "Am over."

Looking at the cover gallery, I feel like I read more of this series than I saw the TV show; and I watch a lotta TV! But I don't think I watched Lois & Clark or even Smallville regularly. Love Supergirl, though.
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