Thursday, May 31, 2007

(Mostly) Off-topic: Coming soon, and more.
Why is it I look at that pose, and think, 'Life is a mystery...'?

It's still Wednesday as I write this, but with the holiday no new comics today. And I was getting excited to pick up Silver Surfer: Requiem, since it's the Book of Doom at, the Legion of Doom this week, and I'm guesting over there! Be sure to hit them up on Saturday, and see if it's worth buying, like the last Surfer limited, or if it's utter tripe, like the one before that.

I had other stuff lined up for here, but felt kind of lost today.

I miss video games.
'Left. Left. LEFT. Your other left, dumbass. God, you suck.'
I know that's probably an odd thing to say, since they are pretty much everywhere. Part of it is, I don't have as much time to sit around playing them anymore, either because of blogging or because of the kids. The Oldest and I used to play old school games on the Playstation 2 quite a bit, until the Youngest finally was able to roll off the bed if you weren't looking. (I swear, he only did that once, and he had never rolled before! 'Course, it did put him off rolling for a while afterwards...)

I picked up the X-Men 3 movie tie-in game a while ago out of a clearance bin; it's not a masterpiece of gaming, but I wanted to see why Nightcrawler bagged out of the third movie. Still, I haven't devoted any time to playing it; not because it's not interesting, but I don't seem to have the obsessive drive to finish a game right fricking now anymore.

I also miss arcade games, and the days when they were in every pizza parlor, convenience store, and mall. Oh, there's still a couple in town, but the games are becoming decrepit, eat quarters without starting, and are handled by progressively stickier children and surly pre-teens. And I've reached that age where I seem suspicious hanging out in an arcade without my own kids (thank you, Dateline...) yet taking them involves herding the Youngest and feeding quarters to the Oldest. My days of being able to quietly play Marvel vs. Capcom are over. (Also, my gaming skills are atrophying from age and disuse. I can't combo for anything...)

That said, I've been going to the gym again, doing yoga with my wife, and hitting the stationary bike and stair machines. I'm all about the cardio, and don't do a lot of lifting, but left to my own devices I'll bike or climb for an hour or two at a time. The problem now is keeping my mind occupied while droning along on the machine: the headphones are on, but that's not enough. Yesterday, one TV had WNBA, the other had the Rob Lowe movie Youngblood. Rrrrr. I've been re-reading Marvel Adventures collections--not the digest versions, so they're big enough to be easily handled and read, but I'm running out.

The Spider-Man game above was on sale at Target, and I waited a day before convincing myself I needed it more than air or food. I find myself doubting the gameplay is especially 'deep,' (Note: yeah, it's not.) but I like these little games as display pieces as well.
'Keep it down, will ya? Geez, some people. Rude.'
And after I jotted this down this afternoon, I went to the comic store anyway, since I had time after dropping the Oldest at basketball. Bought 14 bucks worth of quarter books, which I've barely made a dent on yet. I'll see what's worth a quarter, what I should've bought at full price, and what I should've got for less; and get back to you.
Read more!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Judging by the layers of dust, these comics are three hundred years old. Or I'm a slob.

Last Saturday's episode of the Batman was a rerun of "Artifacts", but it was one of the series' best. Set over a thousand years in the future, archaeologists discover the legendary Batcave. Then the story flashes back to an older, Dark Knight Returns style Batman (with a Robin-turned-Nightwing and Batgirl-turned-Oracle) as he fights Mr. Freeze for the last time. Beaten, Freeze puts himself into cryogenic sleep; coming out of it a thousand years later and kicking the hell out of a Batman-less future.

All pretty cool, but I knew I had seen that somewhere before. No, not the Dark Knight Returns business, the excavation of the Batcave. (Hell, I have the feeling I've seen it more than once, but we'll let that go.) And I finally found that issue again this weekend:
I shudder to think of what the future makes of my basement.
Let's be blunt: short of making every archaeological dig the equivalent of the first fifteen minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, bold-faced lies and pandering to the lowest common denominator are probably the only way to make archeology number 1 in the sweeps.

At this point in Legion of Super Heroes history, Tenzil Kem, the former Matter Eater Lad, had been serving for several years as a senator on his homeworld Bismol, having been drafted into service. (As many have noted, drafting qualified senators into public office doesn't seem like that bad of a system...unless you're the one press-ganged into Congress, I suppose.) Tenzil thus spends a lot of time and taxpayer money...dicking off, in hopes of being released from service, but also as a cover: no one takes a buffoon like him seriously, which actually lets him get away with quite a bit.
Around panel seven, I'm always expecting Tenzil to take a bite out of that Batarang, no matter how many times I read this.
Archeology isn't an exact science, and while the real archaeologists seem to have a vague idea what's going on in the dig, it's pretty easy to imagine they have a lot wrong as well. Makes you wonder what else we, and science, think we know about the past that's not even close...
If I ever get back in time, I will make it my business to leave 'sitty-prints' everywhere I possibly can.
OK, maybe not...

Nightcrawler panels from duh, Nightcrawler #4, story and pencils by Dave Cockrum, finishes by Josef Rubinstein. Everything else from Legion of Super Heroes #11 (volume 4), by Tom & Mary Bierbaum (Tenzil script and Legion story assist), Keith Giffen (Legion story and pencils), Craig Brasfield (Tenzil pencils), and Al Gordon (inks and Legion story assist). Whew!
What's ancient Khund for 'completely boned'?
Elsewhere in this issue, in one of my favorite bits ever, Jo Nah, formerly known as Ultra Boy, picks himself up after being blasted by Legionnaire-killer Roxxas, halfway across the planet. Or so he thinks: Roxxxas used the 'chronal howitzer' to send him about 4000 years into the past, and out of his face. Jo's invulnerability lets him survive the trip (and later, a fiery re-entry into earth's atmosphere) but he can't break the time barrier like Superboy or Mon-el could. He does run into another DC superhero back in ancient Egypt, but it's not as friendly as you might think... Read more!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Whah? Batman's against guns? I thought he loved them!
Take the good advice from Robin now, not later in the issue when he tries to look 'street.'

Since there's no official list of Batman issues that are (or aren't) in the current continuity, it's left to writers and fans to piece it together themselves. It's like editing years of film to put together the best cut of a movie possible, removing stories that have become dated, overly campy, or that just don't fit in.

Out of the hundreds of Batman stories, there is a short list of the essentials, the ones everyone is in general agreement on, like Detective #475, "The Laughing Fish!" These are the issues that may always be part of the continuity, regardless of any changes made today. (Or little dated details, like changes in cars or phones or hairdos.)

On the other hand, A story like "The Lord of Batmanor," (Detective #198.) is probably going to be cut, and not just because no one wants to see Batman swinging down at them wearing a kilt. Seriously, not something I expected to see this morning. The vast majority of the fifties stories did not age well, like at all. Then again, no official list, so if it's an integral part of Batman's history for you, or maybe just a personal favorite, you can shoehorn that one in there. Just like in my head, where this one fits in nicely:

They call him Ananze, 'the spider,' because of his tattoo, not his mustache.Batman: Seduction of the Gun #1. Huh, Dave Dorman cover. Although I still think he's done a ton of cool stuff, this one doesn't really do it for me. Anyway, written by John Ostrander, art by Vince Giarrano. It's from 1992, and sweet Christmas, does it show in places. Have you ever thought the mutants in Dark Knight Returns look dated? Well, they have a timeless, classic look compared to some of the outfits in this one.

Also, the gang leader calls himself Shaka Zulu, and while the character probably wouldn't have any idea what that name really means, it might've been nice for Ostrander to maybe point it out. For instance, I'd think maybe a gang leader would think twice about naming himself after a king assassinated by his half-brothers, and possibly having a rather pronounced mother fixation. (I had to look up Shaka Zulu myself, but check it out.)

The story has the framework of a standard Batman tale: to take down a street gang of gunrunners, Batman goes undercover as their buyer, while Robin does the same at a high school to protect the buyer's daughter. But Ostrander beefs it up a bit with comparisons of guns in popular culture to 'real life,' what kids should do if a friend even shows them a gun, why guns are marketed to the public as 'resistant to fingerprints', and the Batman's feelings on guns (Hint: he doesn't care for them.).

When Robin, Tim Drake, is hanging out with his friends, and one pulls out a gun he intends to scare off a bully with; Tim pulls his other friends up and bugs the hell out. I've given the same advice to my son, and it's sound: if a kid (or, hell, most 'adults') shows you a gun, leave. Leave right then. Don't worry about your things, they can be picked up later or replaced. Don't say anything, just go. Don't try to take the gun, and don't believe anyone who says it isn't loaded. It's not about being afraid of guns, or your friends, it's about getting out of the way of stupidity, accidents, and bad decisions.

Batman on his dad:
Of course, if Joe Chill had killed Batman's dad with a rock, maybe Batman would've fought the roots of poverty instead of crime, but who wants to see that?
That is a great line, and pretty telling about why Batman works the way he does.

It's a good issue, especially for something that could potentially have run into PSA territory pretty quickly. Now, feel free to skip my rant about firearms:

I still own a hunting rifle from when I was a kid, although I keep it at my parents'. I am personally, if not gung-ho Ted Nugent crazy pro-gun, at least not anti-gun. But is it my imagination, or is this not as hot button an issue as it was ten or so years ago? Except of course when something terrible happens, then it's discussed and dissected and bitched about and maybe if you're lucky a loophole that probably should've never existed is closed, and then nothing. Until the next time.

Look, despite everything that's happened the last few years and all the evidence to the contrary, I still think America can accomplish anything it really wants to, if it sucks it up. I can think of at least one way to reduce gun fatalities by a guestimated 90%, without taking guns away from anyone: change the bullets. The technology to tag each new bullet sold with the DNA of the buyer, or maybe an RFID tag, is eminently feasible, and knowing each bullet is a potential personalized invitation for the cops to come right to your door, would shut down a lot of crimes right there. (Also, I think a lot of gun-owners would be a lot more careful how their guns were stored and keeping tabs on their bullets, to prevent a gun being stolen and used in a crime.)

I will freely admit, it's not a foolproof plan: it would probably create a huge black market for older, untagged ammo. Maybe even a surge of homemade bullets. Probably other problems I can't imagine yet. And I'm probably buying into a logical fallacy, like saying if driving fatalities are lowered by reducing the speed limit from 65 to 55, so the limits should be lowered to 45 to save more lives. But it would be a deterrent, and it's doable. And it'll never, ever happen. It would be an inconvenience, possibly considered invasive, and expensive to set into motion. And the gun lobby and gunmakers and N.R.A. would throw money at Congress until the idea went away.

My point is, America (meaning Americans, the people, the great unwashed masses) could do something about a lot of gun violence; if they really wanted to, and were willing to make sacrifices to do what it takes. I'm no Constitutional scholar, but I don't think making bullets directly attributable to those that purchase them would violate the Second Amendment. It could be done, but it won't be, just because however many gun-related fatalities there are a year are considered acceptable losses, even if by silent assent.

There's probably a better way, a fair compromise between the lawful gun owners who deserve to continue packing heat, and the naysayers. But it would have to overcome a lot of inertia just to get started, then beatdown a myriad of forces resistant to any change. End of rant.

One more thing? There are a couple of similarities between this issue, and the landmine awareness story Death of Innocents. Not just the social awareness thing. In both, the heroes fail against a real world problem. It does occur to me the last big problem I remember Marvel going after resulted in those hamfisted Fast Lane inserts...unless you count Nick Fury not being able to light up anymore. Which I don't. Read more!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Today on Creature Feature, "Walt Simonson vs. the 9-Panel Grid!"
Yes, he cheats a little, but you cram those monsters into a single panel.
Slacking off for the holiday, but here's a page from Video Jack #6, written/plotted by Cary Bates, plotted by Keith Giffen, art by Walt Simonson. It wasn't a very successful series, but damnit if Epic didn't used to try some new stuff. Simonson isn't an artist I usually think of for working in the 9-panel grid page style, although I've seen him cram a ton of smaller panels per page; usually head shots, like in Star Slammers or Orion. Coming up later though: some of the best panels of that style. Soon. Read more!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My dog sounds like him, but can't fix a hyperdrive for anything:
Mr. Chewbacca if you're nasty.
Like every child, I have many times wished with all of my black heart for a real lightsaber. And a blaster. Sweet Rao, I want a blaster. I promise to leave it on stun most of the time. And the Millenium Falcon. And Artoo. But not Threepio. I don't need to know every little thing Artoo's saying, I'll get the gist of it.
Protect your neck!
But this issue made me realize how handy Chewbacca would be, moreso than fixing the hyperdrive, laying down covering fire, and getting things off the top shelf: cracking some motherloving skulls. And bodyguarding and extortion are only two of his many uses around the home!
I thought a mute bookie would be easier to deal with.  How wrong I was.
Chewbacca. Doesn't. Front. And god knows, I could use the backup, even today.

Again from Star Wars #59, "Bazaar!" Script and plot by David Michelinie, layouts and plot by Walter Simonson, inks by Tom Palmer. Read more!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Special Bonus Post: 30 Years and Counting

As most of you probably now, today's the thirieth anniversary of the premiere of Star Wars. I was only 5 or 6 when I saw it, and despite any defensiveness or snark I may have for the prequels, I still love all the movies. Wars and Empire are the favorites, like kids that finished school and got good jobs. Return is the underachiever that could've done more but was perfectly content to stay at that midmanagement spot. Attack and Revenge are the problem kids, full of potential and life and heads full of bad wiring, and Phantom Menace is the slow, annoying one but by god you love him anyway.

But, lots and lots of people have already written about the movies, I'm here for the comics. I had read other comics before getting the Marvel version, but this was the gateway book for me.

Anyway, I just wanted to hit a couple of my favorite scenes, ones I think hold up all these years later, continuity be damned.
Luke's practicing for his Charles Atlas ad.
I still think this scene was pretty telling, regarding Luke's character: if anyone else blew up the Death Star, they would still be wearing the medal. Every day.

Stupid Luke, rain on my day, saving my life...
Lando Calrissian's finest hour, Colt .45 be damned.

Countdown to the longest thirty days of my life in 3, 2, 1...
Possibly the greatest/most terrible last page reveal in 1983: Luke and Lando track down Bossk and IG-88, then end up following a group of bounty hunters moving a Carbonite storage block...
If you listen closely, you can hear the echoing scream of my twelve-year-old self...
...Only to find instead of Han Solo, it's Rodian (Greedo lookalike) Chihdo frozen as a decoy! (Poor Chihdo was apparently grabbed and frozen at random, or maybe because Bossk thought he would look cool frozen.)

A big thank you to Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, and on these issues: Star Wars #62, "Pariah!" Script and plot by David Michelinie, layouts and plot by Walter Simonson, finishes by Tom Palmer. Star Wars #59, "Bazaar!" Script and plot by David Michelinie, layouts and plot by Walter Simonson, inks by Tom Palmer. Star Wars #71, "Return to Stenos" Script and plot by Jo Duffy, breakdowns by Ron Frenz, finishes by Tom Palmer. Read more!
I'm nowhere near as excited for Pirates of the Caribbean 3 as some people.
Well, I still like it better than the priest collar.
It's one of those movies I know I'm going to end up seeing at some point, and I'm sure it'll be enjoyable enough (maybe...) but I'm not jumping up and down for it. If I'm lucky, I can get everyone to hold out until it gets to the cheap theatre.

I still haven't seen Spider-Man 3, and I missed Ghost Rider entirely. Well, maybe this weekend; and on that note, have a good long holiday!

From Nightcrawler #7, "The Winding Way, part 1: Underbelly" Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, pencils by Darick Robertson, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti. Read more!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bonus panels of...bonusness, I guess.
'Hahahahahahahahahaha--Don't touch me!  Nothing gives you that right!'
And that's why Batman doesn't smile more: his face snaps right back to the scowl! This is right after the Joker's electrocuted himself, yet Batman gets ten seconds worth of laughter. Pretty sad. Read more!
Just like DC's One Year Later, except confusing and, exactly like DC's One Year Later, yeah.
Batman might as well have been talking about blogging: it too is dirty, thankless heavy lifting that will eventually leave you face down in your own blood in a dark alley.
God, I'm unmotivated. A whole year later, and I still have the same wife, same kids, same job, same blog...and that's good. Um, but here's the bad part...hey, it's worked out better than DC's whole One Year Later thing. I mean, I didn't let like 50 weeks go by, then change a whole bunch of stuff or recruit and dismiss a page full of members in the last week. And, I'm not getting cancelled! (Hawkgirl was the only One Year Later I actually read, on the strength of creators Walt Simonson and Howard Chaykin, but it just never seemed to come together. That said,giant robot Hawkgirl seems like something I should look into.)

So, Random Happenstance has been here for a whole year, although I heartily encourage you to not check the May 2006 archives, they're crap. Really, I was still getting the ship together, and hadn't got the hang of formatting or scans yet. Unlike the masterpiece it is now...oh, you can't hear me rolling my eyes.

Still, I've had a lot of fun here, and haven't run out of comics yet. Who am I kidding, there's comics down there I'm dying to use but can't clear a path to; and I enjoy the occasional toy pictures as well. But since it's my...ugh...blogoversary...I figure the traditional thing to do is reveal a Secret Origin!!

I know this strikes fear into someone, but who?  Dentists?  Grade school teachers?
As some of you may have guessed, 'Googum' is not my real name. Yes, in the best comics' tradition, it's a clever alias designed to strike fear in the hearts of...somebody. Oh, and to protect my loved ones! And unlike You-Know-Who, I'd never do anything stupid like reveal my identity because an authority figure made me an ugly-ass costume with spindley legs sticking out of it. (A giant robot, maybe, though...)

But why 'Googum'? The simple answer starts several years back when I was setting up a free email account at They were a little trinket-gift website that sold a lot of the things that used to be advertised in the backs of comics, really. I wanted a simple, easy to remember address without a bunch of numbers or underscores or any of that crap. Or my name, since most of the nonsense I do online doesn't need my real name dragged into it. Plus, I was living in a basement at the time, and was generally as antisocial as a troll. Yeah, that's changed...anyway, I took the Googum name from a source I didn't think anyone else would look to. (Although, I wasn't able to get the name on a while back.)
Hey, sticks and stones.
Some long term comics readers may have thought Googum was a misspelling of 'Googam,' the son of Goom; a classic Marvel Monster last seen in Fin Fang Four. Well, no, but that may well have been an influence. It's from The Ren & Stimpy Show #13, "Ren & Stimpy's Eencredeebly Patheteec Excuse for a Halloween Issue!!" Written by Dan Slott, art by Mike Kazaleh.
Fact: I have multiple copies of this issue. Believe it.

Huh, Goo-gum's trademarked. Uh-oh. Anyway, now you know, and knowing is more deadly than ignorance, or something. Thanks to everyone who's stopped by, left a comment, or looked in and then run off screaming. Now to see how much longer I can drag this blog out...

Batman page from Batman Annual #15, "The Last Batman Story" Written by Alan Grant, pencils by Jim Fern, inks by Steve Leialoha. An Armageddon 2001 issue, and 2001 feels like decades ago, so you can imagine how 1991 feels. I liked a lot of the individual annuals, possible (if license-wise improbable) looks at the future. Basically DC scratching a What If? itch, but enjoyable. Still, 2007 and Harold never got to build Batman rocket boots. Thanks again, Hush. Jerk. Read more!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

All this and more could be in the basement, for all I know.
Is Nick surprised by this issues revelations, or that this series was still going?
The mess in my basement is rapidly approaching problem levels. Maybe if I sorted everything into 'blogged' and 'not blogged' piles. No, those piles of 90's Flash issues alone would be too intimidating. (Not that they're bad, but they aren't bad enough or great enough for me to write a ton about. Maybe. Damnit, now I have to try some, just to see.)

Oh, and this issue, hell, the whole run of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Not so great. Fury is a great character, but as much as I like some of his stories, like the Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson limiteds; he's always going to be in the shadow of the Jim Steranko issues. I'm hard pressed to think of anything from this particular series that's still in continuity, except the deaths that were undone: Baron Strucker, Clay Quartermain, Jasper Sitwell, Jimmy Woo, and others killed in Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

Oddly, the letters page mentions the first part of "The Cold War of Nick Fury," which involved how Nick Fury first got involved in espionage after WWII, and was set in North Korea. The story was completely reversed the next issue, written off as Fury B.S.'ing his way through a debriefing, which seems like a waste of $1.75. (I think the writer was changed as well, though...)

And now, apropos of nothing, I would absolutely buy this:
Of course, I'd probably buy Journey into Misery, too.

Cover for Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #43 by John Heebink and Mike Manley. Deranged Tales #666 from the back cover of What The--?! #19 by Doug Rice and Hilary Barta. Read more!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How to get killed:

Step 1: If you're not a member of the Challengers of the Unknown, force your way onto one of their missions. For best results, try and make it a mission into space!
Usually, step 1 will do the job by itself...
Step 2: Betray the Challs, and earth, to the first alien monster you see.
Even if you had never seen an alien before, has this ever worked, ever?
Step 3: Repeat when...oh, never mind.
Oh, don't act so shocked!
Don't worry, you will be remembered!
For maybe the rest of the issue...
This was from a flashback issue from the late 90's version of the Challs: Challengers of the Unknown #16, "Today is a long time coming" Written by Steven Grant, art by Mike Zeck (pictured) and John Paul Leon (the framing sequences), inks by Denis Rodier (pictured) and Bill Reinhold (framing). This series was mostly new, X-Files styled Challengers, with occasional appearances by and stories from the originals. The old-school Challengers appearances were set around the times they were originally published, the late fifties and on. That setup seems like the way to go with the characters, even if no one wants to accept that Rocky, Red, Ace, Prof, and June would all be a little long in the tooth in that case.
The only thing cooler than drinking with a Challenger would be with a Blackhawk, but my old, holey liver spasmed at the very idea.
I don't have all the issues of the 90's version, but I'm wondering if the underlying conspiracy of the book was ever resolved; or like X-Files, it was strung on for too long to be wrapped up. I also want to reread the Howard Chaykin "reimagining" now, too. Read more!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Off-topic: This may be just me, but I doubt it.

Just watched the last two episodes...oh, all right, the 'season finale' (I've grown to hate that term) of 24. Like most years, this one had it's high points and it's long, implausible bits; but was mostly enjoyable. Even if a lot of it seems kind of vague now, just like every year...

Still, I think the last ten minutes of the season are the most stressful, since that seems like the one point where Jack Bauer could conceivably be shot in the face. I was really waiting for that other shoe to drop, for Audrey, or her dad to shoot him in the back or something. It would be like Old Yeller, only, you know, not surprising. It's only surprising now when something terrible doesn't happen to Jack; aside from getting shot, which is to be expected by now. I also need to look up Jack's total body count, since I think annually he may have surpassed escalator accidents and scrotal collapse by now.

Anyway, more comic stuff tomorrow: I've only been awake seventeen hours and change, and I can barely type... Read more!
Warning: This scene does not appear in this comic!
There's not even Batman vs. Batman vs. Batman in this issue.  Or Batman vs Batman.
Not. Even. Close. From Batman: Gotham Knights #71, "The Shape of Things to Come, part four" Written by A. J. Lieberman, pencils by Al Barrionuevo, inks by Bit. I'm guessing this cover should've been used earlier in the story, but who knows.

I swear, it's like Lieberman lost a bet with editorial: "Sure, A.J. We'll give you your own Batman book to write."


"But you have to use Hush. Every issue."


"And, you have to at least try to make him cool. No fair just having Batman pummel him for 22 pages. That's how we lost Prometheus."


"But we'll let you kill off a big name Batman villain. Maybe Poison Ivy or something."

"All right!"

"But we're not going to hype it at all. Or crossover with the other Bat-books. And she'll be Superboy-punched back to life in a couple months, so whatever, however you wanna do the thing."


"I'll level with you, A.J. We're trying to phase out Knights and replace it with a new number one. Basically, I need you to ride out the clock."

" long do I have? How many issues?"

"With the delays, and the new creative team, trying to schedule a little lead time, we don't know. Don't worry. Just write in four issue arcs. We can stretch or crunch 'em as needed."

"If...if I write four issues and it's turned into three, do I get paid for four?"

"Funny. Don't use that." Read more!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bad Morbius! Oh, I am not cleaning that up!

Originally uploaded by googum.
Slacking off today, sorry. When I was looking from props for the Morbius vs. Nightcrawler photos, I had a tube of fake blood/disappearing ink, from the Kill Bill toys of a few years ago. Maybe it had dried up or separated over the years, but it wasn't the right consistency for the pictures, and I ended up not using it even after I set everything up outside. I also swore I had a wooden stake accessory, from some Buffy or Angel figure or another, lying around somewhere, but as you saw, I didn't find it. So, I tried some different weapons, further putting the lie to my claim of not having any free time.
I figure if I hit my storage limit, I've fulfilled my blogging obligation, right?
For instance, I think that ax is from a Cordelia action figure, but I didn't care for the look of it, since it reminded me of Angel too much. Hmm, it's been a while since I've watched it, but I seem to recall there was a lot of ax-waving and not nearly as much actual axing.

I really should get an 'I go stabbity' t-shirt someday.
That knife is a mystery, though. Planet of the Apes remake movie figure, maybe? They weren't bad toys, but the nicest thing you could say about them is that they were better than that film. God, I hated that movie, and you'd think they'd have a generic ape in the lineup.
I bent my Wookie...on your face!
Um...your guess is as good as mine, as to where I got that little Chewbacca, what it's from, what I was thinking...Anyway, have a good weekend!

Read more!

Friday, May 18, 2007

On Morbius, the Unpleasant Vampire:
Things like 90's X-Men comics, early Image, my Ultraverse collection...
I was thinking of that last panel there, but not in terms of the people or friends I've lost contact with and miss, or the memories of my own life that are a little fuzzy around the edges. I was thinking of the comics I've lost: large runs of Punisher and it's spin-offs, the various Avengers books of the 80's and 90's, a mess of Giffen Justice Leagues and Legion of Super-Heroes and the Heckler; and Morbius, the Living Vampire.

I had the complete run of Morbius' 90's comic, the Midnight Sons days; and I have no idea what I did with those. Sold, given away, lost, no idea. Annoying, but they aren't very good. Toyfare, in a sidebar on a Morbius figure, pointed out that while he's a cool character, there's no defining or essential Morbius story, which was true then and still true now. Even his origin is overshadowed by Spider-Man's extra arms, and the Lizard's in there as well for good measure. (Today's panels are from Marvel Tales #253, reprinting "Vampire at Large!" from Amazing Spider-Man #102. Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Gil Kane, inks by Frank Giacoia; the reprint has a Moebius Morbius cover.)

Yeah, but number of Nobel prizes won by Richards, Stark, and Pym? None. Suck it, Initiative!Quick recap for those not familiar with him: Morbius was created as part of Marvel's pushing the boundaries of the Comics Code in regards to horror, hence his subtitle "the Living Vampire." For his origin, Michael Morbius was a rather homely-ass Nobel prize winning biochemist. He had a hot but not science-oriented fiance named Martine, and was dying of a rare blood disease. Instead of telling her that he was on the way out, Morbius lets her tag along with himself and his assistant, as they take a cruise (allegedly, for security reasons) for the final phases of his experiments to save himself.

Morbius' experiment is total B-movie material, involving the electrical creation of blood cells and "fluids distilled from vampire bats," and a spacesuit/electric chair combination. As you might guess, the treatment goes horribly awry, and Morbius becomes a pale, vampiric monster; quickly killing his assistant, but not feeding on him.

Doesn't that sound like a Celine Dion song?This is where we see the character trait that most defines Morbius, but is probably too difficult to base an ongoing comic on: weakness. Morbius is all about a man that, when in control of his faculties, has only the best of intentions; and absolutely no follow-through, no willpower to make things right. It could be argued that Morbius' vampirism makes him weak, that it would be impossible for anyone to resist a disease like that, but I think Morbius wasn't a strong person to begin with.

Consider: although he is dying of a rare blood disease, Morbius doesn't tell his girlfriend/fiance Martine, even when she's on the boat where he's doing research to save himself. Upon becoming a vampire, Morbius makes his first kill, his first contrition, and his first suicide attempt; a pattern he would repeat over and over again. I think making Morbius, the character, not a paragon of honesty or strength of will; would make him more interesting yet harder to write in terms of a monthly comic.

To muddy the waters further: at some point, Morbius was cured of his pseudo-vampirism, in the pages of Savage She-Hulk. (Of all places. I'm not 100% sure the link is to the exact issue in question, but it's a Michael Golden cover and the comic has Morbius in it, so eh, close enough.) He would appear later, as a regular human, as one of the scientific experts Reed Richards consulted during Sue's second pregnancy, in Fantastic Four #267.

And sometime later, Morbius becomes a Living Vampire again. Maybe he relapses, maybe his treatment failed, maybe something else happened, I don't recall. (He did appear in Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme a few times.) Him somehow becoming a vampire again is less an issue than the fact that he was publicly known as a former vampire, yet Morbius is somehow able to continue along in public, as a medical doctor, for at least most of his series. Makes a pretty good argument for registration, doesn't it? (And actually, I think Morbius is a registered hero. But, that would be the easy way out, wouldn't it?)

But, and this very well could just be because I've watched too much House lately, the medical angle could work well for Morby, and technically I suppose he had it first. (Just not, good.) Doctor by night, vampire by...later night. If the Night Nurse hadn't just been hired by Doctor Strange, that might've been a good practice for him; as well as a means to get blood without Morbius having to resort to vigilante bloodsucking.

Oh, what else? Again, Morbius seems a lot cooler than reading his actual comics would indicate. I'm pretty sure fiance Martine was turned into a vampire, a real, Dracula-type one; at least twice. Once in Morbius' regular series, and once in his run in Adventure into Fear, sometimes just called Fear, and it should have been called Morbius vs. Freaky 70's Crap. Well, at least the Freaky 70's Crap was unusual; I can't for the life of me remember any of his other villains. Maybe the character doesn't lend himself to it, maybe giving an established rogue their own rogues' gallery is just doomed to failure. (Name a villain Venom or Dr. Doom fought in their solo stories. OK, name one that appeared twice, smarty.)

My son pointed out that they forgot Spidey's extra arms in this panel, but for Gil Kane I'll give him a pass.
Back to his origin for a second: shortly after that above panel, Doc Connors/Lizard realizes if "that--vampire--didn't take anything out of me. So, he must have put something in. An enzyme!" Which is all well and good. Except later in the story, after Spidey and Connors get the enzyme from Morbius and turn Connors back to human, Morbius steals the enzyme serum back before Spidey can take it. So far so good, but Connors then shouts out unless Morbius replaces that enzyme, he'll die. But...why would Morbius secrete or excrete or whatever an enzyme that he had to reingest to live? Moreover, Spider-Man tears after Morbius to "help" him; which just leads to Morbius in the river and Spidey taking the serum, getting rid of his extra arms. Again, even for comic books, the science in these issues is dicey. Where do the extra arms go again, on either Spidey or the Lizard?

(The image of Spidey trying to dispose of four severed arms with his fingerprints just struck me as really, sickly, funny. Also, this has been a ton of words for a character that's probably behind Skrull Kill Krew and Lunatik in terms of getting relaunched.)

Dear Darick Robertson: Start drawing this right now. Thanks!
In the last issue of Nightcrawler, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa mentions the original plot for the second six issues was for two three-part stories; one with werewolves, the other with Morbius. I might've preferred that to the Soulsword story, but we'll never know. Anyway, Marvel, give Morbius a chance, and some writer enough rope to work with, and he might surprise you. Or tank. Either or. Read more!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

So, it turns out on the charges of computer tampering, the Youngest has been vindicated again. Apparently, they expect you to pay for the Internet now...

I had scanned this almost last year and forgotten about it. When I read this issue, I hadn't read a whole ton of Spider-Man comics; or else I would have realized this is kind of a standard plot. Facing off against Speed Demon (a much, much, much better name than the Whizzer), Spidey accidentally gets a photo of his own ass being kicked, which of course ends up on the front page of the Daily Bugle.

While mortified, Spidey seems to plot revenge against Speed Demon, but not so much to get even with him, as to put him in jail; with the added bonus of showing up J. Jonah Jameson. (I was going to say 'gaslighting,' there, but that's not quite right.) And of course, in the end Speed Demon and JJJ get their comeuppance. Not a groundbreaking, earth-shattering, life-changing, nothing-will-ever-be-the-same story; but that's ok. Without the little fun stories like this, those big events just run they're doing.

From Amazing Spider-man #222, "Faster than the Eye!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Bob Hall, inks by Jim Mooney. Walt Simonson cover, too, which I don't think I ever realized until I looked it up.
Read more!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Yesterday my wife got a call from her mom because her computer went down, and she was convinced the Youngest did something to it when he was over. The Wife talked her through a restart, assured her there was no way a two-year old like him could permanently mess up her system, if he had done anything at all, and sure enough everything came back up.

Later that day, I went upstairs to find the Youngest had moved a pile (several piles, maybe) of comics around and on the computer, so he could get up on a chair and look into the scanner. (Comics go in there, but why?) If the scanner reacted a little more quickly, I wish I had thought to scan him doing that. Very endearing, except that in the evening when I tried to go online, something wasn't working. Is that kid up to innocent hijinks, or juvenile sabotage? All things considered, I would prefer the sabotage...

Anyway. So, I'll re-recheck all my connections and whatnot tonight, and hopefully should be back up later.

From World's Finest #254, "Whom Gods would Destroy!"; Story by Bob Haney, art by George Tuska and Vince Colletta. Batman's freaking out, and my wife probably will too when she tries to get online, unless she manages to show me up and fix it herself...
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thank god we have briefings, J'onn, I have no idea who these guys are.
Oh, you're pulling my leg, J'onn.  'Geo-Force,' really.
Of course, now I'm sad that in ten years someone will look at a briefing scene with Blue Beetle, Rocket Red, Elongated Man, and Ice; and make the same joke.
'Every time'?  Why would you try that more than once?
Anyway, this issue isn't as good as JLQ #3, but little in this life is. It's also a rare Vertigo crossover: Rebis from the Doom Patrol, although I don't know who was writing it at the time...From Justice League Quarterly #5, "Be Careful What You Wish For!" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Mike McKone, inks by Andrew Pepoy.

I'm not going to go all into this one, but it does feature Guy Gardner and Blue Beetle hanging out and having fun, Ice using Guy's Green Lantern ring better than he does (in some ways), and what probably should've been the last appearance of Professor Ivo, although I'm sure that was later ignored.

Bonus: Since Brad Meltzer seems to be the only one that really likes him (or at least, likes him on the Justice League), here's a creepy out-of-context Geo-Force panel:
Actually, it seemed a little off in-context, too... Read more!

Monday, May 14, 2007

General Glory: Now at least 65% less sucky.
Please, don't tell the General about 'No Child Left Behind.' That would break his heart.
Like most of you, I'm not a fan of General Glory. I think Sally mentioned it the other day, which made me think of it, then I stumbled across this issue. I don't think I have more than maybe half a dozen GG appearences in the hundreds of comics in the basement, so the Happenstance Method was working overtime there. That, by the way, is one hell of an asskicking there.

General Glory was a really thinly veiled Captain America homage/parody (with shades of Captain Marvel for good measure) complete with dead kid sidekick, Ernie. Imagine making Cap more square. Somehow. Yeah, funny, huh? Less than you'd think, it shouldn't have run for as long as it did, and it was kind of the beginning of the end of the Giffen/Dematteis Justice League.

That said, I totally want one of these:
Finally, a secret society you'll want to tell everyone about!...waitaminute...
How great is membership? So great Franklin D. Roosevelt hits a guy with a chair on the previous page. I was previously unaware that FDR was hardcore, but that's what the Guardians of Glory Secret Society can do for you!
Um, those kisses aren't from his sidekick. Not all of them, anyway.
From Justice League Quarterly #9, "Jillion Dollar Legs" Written by Joey Cavalieri, art by Mike Parobeck and Ty Templeton. Ty is great, but even he alone couldn't make me like General Glory: with Parobeck, though, yeah. Read more!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Just a quick entry here: Deadpool's helmet is from the Thor in the original Avengers box set a few years back. The top of his head fell off in storage, which made me think of this whole thing.

The cape's from a Steel figure, from the Superman: Man of Steel line, also late 90's. Been breaking my legs trying to find the new Steel DC Heroes figure lately, and so far no dice.

There's another Deadpool swipe moment from early in the series, Ed McGuiness art, that I've been dying to set up for months. Except I couldn't get the harness and swords off of 'Pool until I um, broke them. They'll glue back.

And now, with mine sacred hammer...Mujeebur...

And hopefully later today, if I'm lucky, the Oldest and I will give another big fight a try; this time, one that didn't occur in the comics but should've: the creative team instead used a better known monster, but one that I hate. I'll probably have to stage the figures outside though, this one is going to get messy. I say this in the hopes it'll motivate me to get to 'work' and not spend the day catching up on Heroes or yard sales or working out or some damn thing.

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