Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today: Conan vs. venereal disease.

That might be a snide way of putting it, but pretty much. From 1986, Conan Annual #11, "Bride of the Oculist!" Written by James C. Owsley (a.k.a. Priest) with art by Ernie Chan.

The story is told by the aforementioned oculist, Richel, as he has a drink and watches men construct "the machine." A gallows. Although he occasionally ran into trouble with yokels who considered him an evil warlock; in the dive town of Vesci the oculist could go about his practice in relative peace. His bedside manner might be a bit lacking, however.

His office hours interrupted by a scabrous wreck seeking vengeance, Richel thinks quickly and forces his former patient out of an upper-floor window; as his current one is still clutching his eye-stump. Still, a passing snitch gets the idea that an oculist might be flush with gold, and feeds the info to a certain barbarian-turned-thief. Conan rides out for a little B&E, but wasn't expecting to run into the oculist's wife, Narada. Or her lover, Tolkhan. Kung-fu kicking the barbarian from behind, Tolkhan knocks out Conan, but Narada has an idea: make off with Richel's gold, and pin the crime on Conan.

Days later, Richel visits Conan in jail: he knows Conan was trying to rob him, but his wife beat them both to the punch. He offers Conan his freedom, if he can find Narada and the gold; and will split the gold with Conan if he succeeds. (Taking for granted Conan being too honorable to take the money and run.) Still, Conan may have his work cut out for him:

Being both the most logical suspect and due for an asswhupping, Conan visits Tolkhan. Despite being almost twice his age, Conan still delivers a solid beating to the young whippersnapper; who is actually heartbroken since Narada left him, with the gold. Conan tracks down the next name, a local baron, and here's where things get weird: the baron has became a recluse, since he appears to have contracted a rotting disease, almost like leprosy. Narrating, Richel explains he treated Narada's perfumes with "an elixir" that would give the disease to any man who kissed his wife, rotting first their flesh, then their mind.

Tolkhan catches up to Conan, having realized he's been infected by the oculist's revenge, but wanting to see his love before he dies. Conan's been snowed by women before; but he's old enough to not be especially sympathetic. Especially when the trail leads them to a bar full of poxy faces, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, a small company of the army, a shepherd, and a Pictish chief. At the latter, they find the gold, but no sign of Narada.

Enraged, Tolkhan goes back to Richel's, where the oculist was planning to leave town. Knowing the disease is driving Tolkhan mad, Richel takes pity and lets him know where his beloved is: in a big jar in the closet. Richel killed Narada right off, claiming she'd run away with his money. (This hinges on there being some authority in the town that cared if Richel murdered his wife; in a lot of Conan stories he probably could've done so in broad daylight.) After a gruesome embrace with the pickled corpse, Tolkhan tries to kill Richel, but Conan arrives to pummel him unconscious again, then forces Richel to cure the boy.

His tale concluded, Richel challenges you to find a moral, as he faces the gallows. But not for murdering his wife: the man who lost an eye at the start of his story, was a vengeful captain of the guard. The now one-eyed guard, Conan, and a recovering Tolkhan watch as the oculist is strung up.

I have to wonder if Priest wasn't going through a breakup when he wrote this one. A bad breakup.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

If "Build Character through Perversity" doesn't inspire you, I don't know how to help you...

I have to do this every couple of years: come back to something I said I was going to come back to, some years prior. I had to a while back with my favorite Ann Nocenti Daredevil comic; and about a year ago I mentioned my second-favorite Riddler story...but not my favorite. So, let's get to it, since I randomly stumbled back into it today: from 1993, The Batman Adventures #10, "The Last Riddler Story" Written by Kelley Puckett, pencils by Mike Parobeck, inks by Rick Burchett.

When a shipment of rare jewels bound for the Gotham Museum are nearly stolen by criminal genius Mastermind, Batman and Gordon know his cohorts Mr. Nice and the Perfessor will give it a shot as well. The timing is inconvenient, though, since one of Batman's most persistent villains is getting out of jail tomorrow.

Persistent? Not this time. Even with the encouragement of his curiously familiar looking crew Eddie Nygma is hanging up the Riddler's derby hat. "I riddle my brains out and Batman catches me anyway! If only I could outsmart him just once..." A henchman points out Bats gets hit in the head a lot, so maybe he's dumber now. They manage to convince him by mangling the motto of the penitentiary he just got released from, so Riddler decides to give it one more shot, but if it doesn't work, that'll be the last riddles from him. He delivers the riddle via skywriting, but Batman's busy taking in the friendly armed robber, Mr. Nice.
So. Much. Fun. And something we've seen the Riddler do in comics, too.
The Riddler and his boys enjoy a pleasant afternoon, walking the streets and asking passersby their riddle, then bonking them on the head when they get it wrong. Admittedly, that does look fun; but one of the thugs is misty-eyed at the thought of never seeing their beloved boss this happy again. For his part, Batman admits to Alfred he really hasn't had time to look at the riddle, but he has to take care of the Perfessor first--Bats knows what the Perfessor is going to do, and has to take the sure thing. (I didn't scan it, but Bats is sharpening his Batarangs while he talks to Alfred, and if criminals saw that they'd be even more afraid of him.)
A clever call-back to the Riddler's first B:TAS episode: If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?
Sure enough, that night the Perfessor and his ungrateful little accomplice try for the jewels, but while Batman takes care of them, the Riddler and his gang make off with the prize! They get all the way to the sidewalk, before Batman beats the tar out of the gang. Riddler, though, is just crushed. How? How could Batman figure it out? Perhaps unwisely, Batman admits he didn't; he just happened to be there. And to the Riddler, that counts as a win, even as he's carted off to jail, the book literally thrown at him in court, and tossed back into prison...

You could read this issue just fine without noticing, but Mastermind, Mr. Nice, and the Perfessor were caricatured versions of DC editors Mike Carlin, Archie Goodwin, and Denny O'Neil. They would actually appear a few more times in the various incarnations of the book, until Goodwin's death in 1998.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

A project that I can safely say I probably won't get to anytime soon, is getting my pile of Nightcrawler stuff together for photos. I got this little figurine off eBay for $7.16 a couple weeks back; and while there apparently were other characters in this line, I have no idea how these were sold. Tomorrow, this will probably go on my desk at work!
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Playing with the recent DCUC Crime Syndicate five-pack (and making some snarky cracks) made me think how much I'd enjoy a similar Squadron Supreme set. Hyperion, Power Princess, Nightwing, Doctor Spectrum, and the Whizzer would be the obvious choices. Oddly, in continuity, that group was duplicated by the Grandmaster to make the villainous Squadron Sinister; where in reality the evil version appeared first. And they were both analogs of the Justice League, anyway; only Marvel would have the cheek to do it twice...

Unfortunately, the price point and relative obscurity of the Squadron notwithstanding, it would be a tough one to do, because which version should you make? Classic, Sal Buscema style? The maskless versions from Squadron Supreme #1 above? Or, heaven forfend, one of the modernized versions? I didn't read the Howard Chaykin one, but I read the J. Michael Straczynski/Gary Frank Supreme Power.
Oddly, even when they did wear masks, the Squadrons' masks were flimsy even by DC standards.
My main recollection of the latter was that it was less like any other incarnation of the Squadron, and more like "What if the Justice League were (almost) completely unlikable?" Straczynski's Whizzer and Dr. Spectrum seem OK, but Hyperion and Nightwing are more than a little insane; and his version of Power Princess, the Wonder Woman-analog, was straight-up eat-a-baby evil. What that says about anything, I don't know; but I gave it a couple years for some reason.

Scans from "The Utopia Principle" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Bob Hall, inks by John Beatty.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Marvel Super-Heroes Spring Special #1!

Just some of the pulse-pounding excitement of this issue!
Errr. I had this one next to my computer, and actually just double-checked to make sure I hadn't already written it up: Marvel Super-Heroes Spring Special #1. Featuring stories from Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, and others; and art from Steve Ditko, Ron Lim, and more. And it's got Moon Knight, Black Panther, Hercules, and more...in inventory stories. I think this incarnation of Marvel Super-Heroes was primarily for burning off unused fill-ins, so even if you get a story with name-brand creators, it was probably early work.
Shouldn't you wear pants with your armored suit?
Over at Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep, they recently covered this issue's uncomfortably skeevy Brother Voodoo story, so we won't get back into that one. In the Moon Knight story, Marc follows up on his old supporting cast--good--but also appears in a mall, and fights a low-rent villain called the Raptor--bad. In fact, both the Moon Knight and Black Panther stories feature villains that are defeated by having their batteries taken out.

While the Hercules story does feature his terrible 80's costume, it does contrast his party-going doofus exterior with some of his mythological history and past tragedies. Although, it makes a pretty good argument for Herc having an aversion to archery; which does make me question his close friendship with Hawkeye. Anyway, that one's not a bad fill-in, which is kind of the best you can hope for here.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


We might come back to them, but I'm not sure how I feel about the current Uncanny X-Force book. I was lured into trying it since they brought in the Nightcrawler from the Age of Apocalypse--which was previously an alternate timeline, but somehow upgraded to an alternate universe. Anyway, the Nightcrawler from "Over There" (I'm a big Fringe fan.) stays in the 616, because he needs to murder the other immigrants from the AoA, like the Dark Beast and an evil Iceman, I think. So, he's not so much the friendly Kurt we lost for a plot beat in Second Coming; and he as much as tells Kitty that.

Since I came late to the book, I'm also not sure on Deadpool's involvement with the team. Or, if the caption boxes/voices in his head from his regular book follow him over there. I think Wolverine knew Wade wants to do good, and decided to use that...on his murder squad. Near as I can figure, X-Force is a straight-up wetworks team; which Logan runs along with his school. And his time on the Avengers. Actually, I don't really have a problem with Wolverine appearing in every third Marvel comic, even though I'm not a huge fan. It only seems like he's everywhere; the events of three or four comics can often take place in the same week. To be honest, even though he's getting to have it both ways, I do like the idea of Headmaster or Principal or Professor Logan: he's been through some hard times and done some bad things, and he's trying to make things better. Although it does underline my problem with Marvel lately, since Wolverine is somehow less of a dick than most of the Avengers right now.

Ugh. And as usual, the yellow balloons for Deadpool killed me again...
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Remember that time Guy tried to murder Hal?

"Which time," might be a fair question there; but today we're looking at Green Lantern #198, "1" Written by Steve Englehart, pencils by Joe Staton, inks by Bruce Patterson. As usual, I was looking for something else, but here we are, and I had this issue in mind a while back anyway.

Set smack-dab in the middle of the original Crisis, this issue also recaps a ton of Green Lantern history, from Sinestro's origin to the anti-matter universe of Qward. The Guardian that gave Guy Gardner his ring (and gave the then-ringless Hal a new one) has gathered an army of criminals to attempt to destroy Qward, by destroying "the white spot" of positive matter in the negative universe. (Or something like that.)

Sinestro gets John to go to Oa, hitching a ride so he can try to destroy the black spot on Oa's moon and cripple the positive universe. He is stopped by the Guardians, but the power battery then speaks through Lantern Tomar-Re to explain if Guy and Hal succeed, they will make the Anti-Monitor even more powerful. Three Guardians are pictured arguing about three different possibilities: let them try to destroy the anti-matter universe, do nothing and accept their fate, or send the Lanterns to stop Guy and Hal. They finally decide to trust their battery and send the Lanterns.

Meanwhile, Guy's army fights their way through the Qwardian Weaponers, and when Hal refuses to kill in battle, Guy sucker-punches (or sucker-beams) him and takes his ring, leaving him to die in space. Hal survives by taking a dead Qwardian's life-support rig. John stops Guy from destroying the spot, or at least stalls him until they realize the Crisis is over.

The cost is pretty high for the Corps, though: among others, Tomar Re and grasshopper Xax die. I keep getting Xax confused with the wasp-like Bzzd. Who is also dead. I maintain, the GLC needs less fragile bug or squirrel Lanterns, and more Cthulhu-style monstrosities.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

(One-twelfth of) a Review: DCUC Timber Wolf!

MattyCollector.com released the Legion of Super-Heroes 12-pack a while back. Twelve figures for $180 isn't bad (plus a Legion flight ring, Proty, and case shaped like the Legion's rocket accident of a headquarters) but I couldn't drop the cash for that.

But, I did get a loose Timber Wolf from eBay...and China. He was a little cheaper than you would expect: discounting postage, the LSH set was $15 a figure (maybe less, if you figure in the extras somehow) and I paid $13. With free postage! Then, the question is, how did he turn out; and did I get one from a broken-up set sold piecemeal; or a figure that...fell off a truck, we'll say? Let's see!

Oddly, although Timber Wolf is my favorite Legionnaire, if you go back through that tag I'm not sure you see him wearing this particular outfit: it's very much his seventies outfit. (On this post on a Legion election, you can see him wearing it!) The logo and brown-black color scheme he would keep for some time, although he'd lose the Wolverine-style hair around the time Keith Giffen came on the book.

T-Wolf is based on the smaller DCUC base body, since the Legionnaires are teenagers. The articulation is pretty good on mine, except for the hips: they seem a little stiff, and I'm not going to push it. Both his fists are closed, which is fine; and the Legion flight ring on his right looks pretty good. His paint is pretty good, with just a few marks on the head, like what looks like a missed touch on the eyebrows. The head sculpt is great, though: he's got just a hint of a grin, like he knows a joke the other Legionnaires wouldn't get.

Even though I think I'm about to get soaked for some cash for an unforeseen expense, I am going to keep a beady eye on getting another loose Legionnaire or two. You might figure some might be more available than others, but it seems a bit of a crapshoot: I've seen more of the oversized Colossal Boy than I have Wildfire. That may well be because Wildfire is cooler, but still.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

I can't decide if beating a snitch is torture or not...

From the recent Secret Avengers #21, "Final Level" Written by Warren Ellis, pencils by Stuart Immonen, inks by Wade Von Grawbadger. Steve Rogers, Captain America, seems to turn over three suspects to Black Widow and Moon Knight for torture. The Widow shoots one with her sting, and MK stabs a guy through the hand before threatening to skin his face; which gets the mole to confess, since she had planned on saving her unknowing friends.

Is this what Ellis thinks of America, or is it a misstep in a pretty good book up to now? (This being his last of a six issue run.) I do think when he's out of his Captain America uniform, Steve has a little more leeway for dirt: he can do things he never would as a symbol. But while I don't think Steve would be in for waterboarding or hooking someone's genitals to a car battery; I know I've seen him at least threaten to get rough before. (In an old Mark Gruenwald issue, Cap tells a terrorist he'll break his wrist, but the terrorist doesn't buy it.) So, I tend to read this as Steve talking tougher than he would actually go through with, or allow to happen.

Beast and War Machine both stay humane here, though: Beast refusing to kill, and War Machine offering aid before opening fire. Even excluding the subtext of torture, this issue isn't the best of Ellis's run, but the single issues will make a good trade.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Batman Family #19!

For the next stretch, as long as I can find them, every Thursday we'll check out an 80-page comic! Not 64, not 100, 80-page giants only! Today, a doozy! From 1978, Batman Family #19! Featuring Huntress, Man-Bat, Batgirl, Robin, and duhr, Batman; in the lead with a twenty-page Denny O'Neil, Michael Golden, and (P.) Craig Russell story, "The Tomb of the White Bat!" Which we won't go into much, since although Batman gets trapped in and escapes from a clever homemade pit in the mountains, he also only triumphs because of the intervention of said white bat!

In the next story, Congresswoman Batgirl faces off against "The Sino-Supermen!" (Written by Bob Rozakis, art by Juan Ortiz and Vince Colletta.) Oddly enough, it ties into Firestorm continuity: the Chinese government, believing super-heroes like Superman or Firestorm to be creations of American scientists, work to create their own super-powered operatives. Batgirl points out to a federal agent that they both know damn well the U.S. didn't create Superman, but is told it's better to let the Chinese believe that, which seems somewhat dangerous. Batgirl busts up the spy ring, but gets a clue that her brother Tony may still be alive. (Where that fits in any sort of continuity, you'd have to tell me.)

Then, in "The Crime Rate is Earth-Shaking!" Robin faces a number of crimes and personal problems at Hudson University, none of which should be that big of a deal, since we see photographic proof Robin can punch a thug so hard his head explodes.
Holy head-trauma!

See? And there's also Man-Bat, and a Huntress story, which oddly appears to be the only one here to have been reprinted. ("Gotham Town is Burning Down!" Written by Paul Levitz, pencils by Joe Staton, inks by Bob Layton.)

All for a dollar, which according to this inflation calculator provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, had in 1978 the same buying power as $3.47 in 2011. If you find an 80-pager for that price today--ha!--buy it. That said, I know I didn't buy this issue in 1978--I'm pretty sure I paid fifty cents for it in the 90's, and I bought a couple other Batman Family issues around then as well...
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nothing to say today:

Want to stop online piracy? Sure, we all do. Too bad SOPA--the Stop Online Piracy Act--is not going to be the way to do it. The potential for abuse alone makes it a bad idea, but take a second to read about it--you'll have a chance to, since Wikipedia and a number of other sites will be 'dark' Wednesday--and if you agree (or even if you don't, for that matter) take a moment to contact your Representative and tell them what you think. (Even if you didn't vote for them--I voted against mine, possibly more than once!)

Next Wednesday, we'll be back to normal--hopefully--with a new homemade strip. Back tomorrow, see you then.
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(Not) a review: Batman Legacy Edition Catwoman Classic!

She's not my first figure of the year--I got a GLC Manhunter a week or so back--but Catwoman is a new, new figure; not a 2010 release picked up on clearance! I grabbed the first one I saw, and didn't hesitate. How did my first proper Catwoman figure turn out? Let's see!

I didn't have another one in package to compare (nor did I take a picture, sorry!) but the paint on this one was pretty good. There's a couple little blemishes that show on the macro setting of the camera, but look just fine to the naked eye. However, on my figure there was just a smidge of loose trim under her chin--anywhere else, it wouldn't have been noticeable, and it wasn't hard to remove it. Likewise, the mold lines on the legs don't line up: they run along the sides of her thighs, then right down the middle from mid-thigh down! This doesn't bother me, and I consider it a fair trade for articulation, but I wonder if anyone will complain.

Selina's cape and skirt are both not removable, and while they're pretty stiff, they aren't overly heavy. The DCUC Batman above is having some joint issues from lugging his cape around, but I don't see that happening here. Even if it does, there are poses she can hold with the cape and skirt for extra support. Her hair is another attached piece, and hinders a bit of the neck articulation. I do like the wrist points, though, that look like they're coming out of pointed sleeves.

Catwoman does get robbed on the accessory front, though: she only gets a gold-colored Batman base, and a little poster of the cover of Batman #65--I know she had other looks between 1951 and 1980, but came back to this outfit more than once. No loot, no whip or cat o' nine tails, not even a cat!

So, this is a solid figure, but ultimately it will depend on if this is your Catwoman. Some will prefer the modern, leather and goggles look. Others, the Michelle Pfieffer/Batman Returns-style stitched version. Or the Jim Balent chesty action woman. (God help you if you're holding out for a Halle Berry one...) Admittedly, I wouldn't mind having a modern Catwoman figure, but this is the Catwoman of Batman #323, one of, if not the first Batman comics I ever got. I'm glad to have this particular Catwoman.

Man, I do wish I had a Panthor to go with her, though.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Terminus Factor, conclusion: Avengers Annual #19!

I couldn't tell you if this was drawn with reference or not.
The conclusion of the Terminus Factor, Avengers Annual #19, "Beat Me in St. Louis" Written by Roy and Dann Thomas, pencils by Herb Trimpe, inks by Jeff Albrecht. The east coast, west coast, and Great Lakes squads of Avengers rush to St. Louis to stop the 300-foot tall, four-armed Terminus from draining the energy or the life out of the entire continent. At the time, Hawkeye and Mockingbird had been trying to whip the GLA into shape to be a proper branch; they gave up on that notion pretty quickly. In fact, Hawkeye had already gone back to the WCA; but the GLA do delay the levitating monster. (Why Terminus is floating and not merely stomping things, I have no idea; except maybe it's easier to draw, and comics used to be all right with not having a six-figure body count.)

Meanwhile, in space, Thor is floating helplessly without his hammer. But, he made arrangements before he left, as he angles his body to be drawn into a small planetoid's gravity...landing like a rock.

The proper Avengers arrive (even though Captain Marvel and Quasar alone probably could've been there in seconds...) and the fliers try to get to Terminus, as the ground-bound members get bystanders to safety. Quasar tries the tactic he and the cosmic-powered Spidey used, making a platform and pushing Terminus off the planet; but Iron Man can see the new version is "twice as tall...with many times the mass!" And growing, as it begins to draw energy.
If you thought Superman defeating Darkseid with a song was impressive...
Regaining consciousness, Thor finds the planetoid has just enough of an atmosphere to carry sound, so he can speak, shouting something that seems to carry through space...it can carry through space, but he couldn't just shout it out in hard vacuum? OK, whatever...
Thor is just belting it out in the middle panel.
Getting nowhere, Quasar calls an audible, the Avengers attacking from multiple sides. It seems to work, as Terminus is launched into space. Quasar and several of the Avengers are trapped in an air pocket, and pulled up with it. Back on the ground, Hercules thinks he can hear Thor: he recalls the thunder god seemingly praying to the then-missing Odin earlier. (Which I don't think we saw!) Pym guesses Thor may have removed one of the enchantments on Mjolnir.
That second panel looks familiar...
Terminus flies straight at the planetoid, and Thor fears for the Avengers there, but Quasar saves them. The collected heroes wrestle away Terminus's lance, and Quasar quantum-jumps it even further away; without it, Terminus can't absorb enough energy to maintain its form, and implodes into a black hole, then nothingness. Mjolnir finally returns to Thor's hand, as was his plan all along; and Thor returns the heroes to earth.

The end ties up everything, but the fourth chapter was stronger. In their defense, though, they had to work in something like 23 Avengers here. Well, they didn't have to, but you know what I mean. It's weird for Thor, of all people, to be the one with the game plan here. (If you're curious about 'audible' and 'game plan,' I'm watching the Broncos/Vikings game now...) We might check out the back-up features some other time, though: there's a Mark Gruenwald Acts of Vengeance! epilogue, and an early Kurt Busiek character piece.
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Friday, January 13, 2012

I wanted this one yesterday, but thought it was a bigger no.

I thought it was like a six or eight o no, too.
Honestly, this is the second or third time I've mis-remembered a Claremont/Byrne classic X-Men panel as being bigger. I honestly thought this one was more than a quarter of the page at least. Go check out Uncanny X-Men #123 (or Classic X-Men #29) if you don't believe me.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

'OMACtivate,' Meaning 'Accept Cancellation.'

O.M.A.C. and Static Shock are among DC's first cancellations in the new 52. Never love anything, comics fans. Never.

From O.M.A.C. #5, "Occasionally Monsters Accidentally Crossover" Written by Dan DiDio and Jeff Lemire, pencils by Keith Giffen, inks by Scott Koblish.

I don't think O.M.A.C. was a perfect comic, but it was a perfectly enjoyable comic. I had also seen it referred to occasionally as a "guilty pleasure," and I don't necessarily agree with that label. Still, it's a shame that we won't get to see it grow, either.

I'm just lucky I didn't bring down Demon Knights as well, since ever other book I've read from DC the last few years has gone to an early grave. I have a pretty bad track record for sinking comics--there's a reason I do "The End" week every year, isn't there? In fact, now I'm worried for Atomic Robo, since I recently added that to my pull list...

Ideally, I wish companies would try a trick that maybe worked once: take a low-selling character, and team him up with another, like Iron Fist being folded into Power Man. In that case, I'd at least have Unknown Xombi Warlord Shock Patrol to look forward to every month...

Ugh. Think I'll take tomorrow off, then. Have a good long weekend!

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80-Page Thursday: Justice League Quarterly #8!

Another Thursday, another 80-page comic! Today, Justice League Quarterly #8, featuring "Double Trouble!" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Rod Whigham, inks by Romeo Tanghal.

In the first issue of Justice League Quarterly Max Lord's ex-wife Claire Montgomery establishes the first corporate-sponsored super team, the Conglomerate; which included former Leaguers Gypsy and Booster Gold. Lord invites her to set up a charity match between the Conglomerate and the JLI, but it's a trap: using shell companies and bribes to make better offers to Claire's team, she's left hanging the day before the show with no team and forced to hold tryouts.

In the best DC tradition,the scabs come out in force, but one Norman the Doorman has some promise, if a colossally stupid name: he can open dimensional portals, such as one to a world full of heroes that may be a match for the League. Claire invites them to our world and gives them jobs; and the next day at the match, as Flash and Blue Beetle badmouth the Conglomerate, the new Conglomerate arrives.

As the events seem to get rougher, Green Lantern Hal Jordan visits Oberon, who is watching from the embassy. Although he's never met them, he recognizes the "Conglomerate" on sight: they're from Qward, the antimatter universe of the Crime Syndicate! (It's also occasionally known as Earth-3, depending on when you ask.) By this time, the new Syndicate (Hal believes the originals to be gone) are in a full-on brawl, ending only when the heroes push them back through Norman's portal.

Expecting to be fired by her corporate sponsors, Claire declares the end of the Conglomerate...except the sponsors loved the show, and can't wait for more.

The status of the Crime Syndicate is always a bit of a crapshoot, but now with the current DC continuity, it's still probably just a matter of time before they appear in some form. "Evil universe" is too tempting to leave on the table...

This issue also features a Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt prequel; another Max Lord story, and the return of the Global Guardians. For some reason.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's a fair question...

It's come up more than once in Avengers, but four out of five times when the DC-analogues of the Squadron Supreme show up, they're being mind-controlled. I like to think the Crime Syndicate and the heroic Lex Luthor used to have wacky Silver-Age style adventures, where the Syndicate would have some big crime planned and Lex would stall them with a convoluted scheme. Then the Syndicate would beat up Lex and eat a baby or something...

Anyway, since I had some of these figures out anyway, so this was the first thing I thought of when I saw Batman has a crossover coming:

OK, I'm pretty sure that won't happen in "Night of the Owls." Pretty sure. I know in latter Outsiders there was an Owlman in there, but I'm not sure what his deal was, and that probably won't come up again anyway.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

If you didn't enter, you have only yourself to blame!

If you didn't win fourth, though, I guess you can blame me.

From Geeks for Tots, I won fourth place! A $10 gift card to 80sTees.com, two cool bars of geeky soap from Yeung Moxey (50s style robot and R2-D2) and three Star Wars figures from Brian's Toys! Nice!

A big thank you to Geeks for Tots, and I heartily encourage you to check out their sponsors, as well as The Robot's Pajamas and Dinosaur Toy Vault. I'll be checking them out today myself...
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Monday, January 09, 2012

The Terminus Factor: Avengers West Coast Annual #5!

Catching a bit of lens flare off Iron Man's head there...
From Avengers West Coast Annual #5, "When Titans Trash!" (They really should've gone with the cover's title, "War of the Gargantuas!") Written by Roy and Dann Thomas, pencils by James Fry, inks by Keith Williams. The issue starts without a lot of urgency, as Dr. Pym revives the android Human Torch. Recently, the Vision had been revealed as not a refurbished Torch, but a separate android. The Torch does have to ask how long he's been down, since his previous record was 35 years. Meanwhile, Hercules watches Terminus and the now-giant Termini battle in downtown San Francisco: the fight has moved since the prior issue, which could be justified by their giant size; but Herc's outfit has also changed. It's a better outfit, so we'll allow it.
As the "Terminus Twins" talk smack and hammer each other, the Avengers West Coast, including Iron Man and Machine Man, arrive. Pym has a plan involving a pair of huge lenses, momentarily blinding them, then sending them chasing after-images. Hercules tries to smash the Termini as he did the Deviant-piloted impostor, but it doesn't work; neither does the Wasp's attempt to do damage from within. Both giants mostly ignore the Avengers, as they return to their battle. The Termini, seemingly defeated, shrinks and is eaten by Terminus, who then levels up to a four-armed, even bigger version...to be seen in the conclusion in Avengers Annual #19!

Even without a lot of page-time, Thomas gives as many characters as he can a moment of characterization: Pym quietly leads the team, USAgent is a "brave blowhard," Hawkeye writes a check his butt can't cash, and Quicksilver is smug as hell but rather deservedly so. I like Fry's art--he had a run on DC's Star Trek book that I quite enjoyed. This is another fun chapter, even if our heroes don't get to accomplish a lot. And the backups this issue are possibly the best of the lot, including "Don't You Daaare Miss it!" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Hyperatomic Anti-Proton Cannon!" (The latter having James Fry art as well!)

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