Thursday, March 31, 2016

80-Page Thursdays: Countdown Special: the Atom #2!

Hey, Ray! Find Jean Loring yet?

OK, guess not. From 2008, Countdown Special: the Atom #2, reprinting from 1977-78 Super-Team Family #13-14, "Ragnarok Night!" and "The End of the Quest!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Arvell Jones, inks by Romeo Tanghal.

The Atom quest for Jean Loring leads him back to earth, where we find Aquaman and Captain Comet (guest-starring from Secret Society of Super-Villains) are fighting planet-wide disasters caused by the Wind Pirate. (Or Pirates. Flash and Atom were fighting them in the first chapter!) Meanwhile, in Lemuria...which I thought was in the Marvel Universe...Jean Loring has been found, but hopelessly insane, her mind charged with "radiation energies" that are mingling with the Wind Pirate's machinery to make his disasters even greater.

Captain Comet uses his mental powers to project Atom into Jean's mind, then Comet and Aquaman have to fight the Wind Pirate's forces. While all three are successful, the radiation remains in Jean's mind, making it impossible to awaken her without destroying the earth! Thus necessitating the "Arrrrggh!" above.

Unfortunately, while these specials had reprinted all of the story up to now, here we miss a chapter somehow, Secret Society of Super-Villains #10! The one where the Creeper and Star Sapphire kidnap Jean Loring, and I still don't know why the Creeper's with the Society and not in SSoSV #11! Gorilla Grodd controls the Society here; a formerly mind-controlled and somewhat disgruntled Sapphire, and the animal-hating Floronic Man, who's also planning to betray Grodd.

Atom enlists the help of Wonder Woman here, after helping her stop invading alien robots. On Diana's shoulder, Atom even gets to visit Paradise Island and check out the Crystal of Knowledge; while the Floronic Man brings Jean to Grodd. The Society takes over Gorilla City, since Grodd was homesick, but it's also a good base to blackmail humanity. Or blow it up, either way. While Wonder Woman and Atom are briefly stopped, they manage to rally to defeat the Society. As they do, WW recounts an origin for Floronic Man that I think was discredited later, about him being an alien from a "plant dimension." Huh.

Stopping Grodd from using Jean to destroy humanity, the Atom also somehow drives the radiation out of Jean, curing her. And freeing her up for a February wedding, although the Atom is probably going to have to let her in on his secret identity before then.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I was actually pretty pleased with my old Morbius action figure--with the action feature and rubber face--but I think his face has recently started to fall apart. Luckily his replacement just arrived!
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Last night was Supergirl/Flash, today we've got Superman/Impulse!

Impulse probably asked the pope about bears and the woods, too; in 1996's Adventures of Superman #533, "Scavenger Hunt" Written by Karl Kesel, pencils by Stuart Immonen, inks by Jose Marzan, Jr.

You wouldn't guess right away, but this issue's bad guy is right there in the title: the Scavenger, fresh from giving Superboy the hassle. (Hmm, I'm more familiar with the first Scavenger, an Aquaman villain that ended up in Warlord, but I remember this guy.) He's sent Superman on a scavenger's hunt across the globe, to stop his bombs. Deciding he needs a little back-up, Superman makes a call to Wally West, but gets Max Mercury...who sends Impulse, instead.

Although he tends to run off before thinking, Impulse does a good job and helps Supes with thirteen more bombs, until they hit San Diego. Supes gets suspicious and decides to maybe just let this one count down to zero. Then changes his mind when the vacationing Kents say hello; and Superman yells at Impulse to get everyone out of there in the eight seconds remaining. As he often did, Impulse's thought balloon spells it out:

The bomb was a decoy, and Superman realizes someone wanted to keep him out of Metropolis; where Scavenger's plan failed to take into account another of Metropolis's heroes: Alpha Centurion! (Last seen on this blog a good six years back!) When Supes and Impulse show up, the outmatched Scavenger disappears; although it seems he may have taken the "coins of power" he was after...or maybe not. Impulse, being a rare hero not awestruck by Superman, tells Supes to cut himself some slack: "Smart guy like you's just gotta trust his--impulses!"

There is a nice scene of Superman and Centurion chatting in Latin, but a lot of this issue is given over to subplots, particularly one involving Lori Lemaris, who has apparently gone all Little Mermaid and has legs now. She also lets slip to Lois--perhaps not accidentally--that Clark had proposed to her; then falls off a roof--again, perhaps not accidentally--and kisses Superman when he saves her. She apologizes, saying at least no one saw, which of course Lois did...

My conversational Latin is pretty bad--hell, my conversational English ain't doin' great--but thanks to the internet, "ab uno disce omnes," from one, learn all. "Eheu fugaces labuntur anni," Alas, the fleeting years slip by. Superman seems to disagree--"e contrario"--and concede Impulse may have a point. Man, this should qualify me for an educational grant or something...
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Monday, March 28, 2016

"Deadpool meets iZombie."

Got the Diamond Select iZombie figure last week, and knocked this strip out over an evening. Liv and Pool are pretty close height-wise, when in real life she's shorter, but it's close enough to fudge.
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Friday, March 25, 2016

I was reading comics in 2008, right? How'd I miss this?

The Doom Patrol. Flash. Metamorpho and the Challengers of the Unknown. Mark Waid and George Perez? Why the ever-living hell didn't I buy the Brave and the Bold #8 back in 2008? Tell me! Oh, and inks by Bob Wiacek, who's also pretty great.

This month, the Challengers of the Unknown are still trying to wrap their heads around the Book of Destiny; while Wally and Linda West are looking for help for their kids, Jai and Iris. They had their dad's powers, sort of, and were unstable: I think they'd only been around a year or so, yet in the best soap-opera tradition were already 10 or 11. But there's help Wally is reluctant to take, from Dr. Niles Caulder, the Chief of the Doom Patrol. Wally thinks the Chief is creepy, and appearances and testimonials seem to back him up: he lives in a creepy castle, doing creepy experiments with his creepy super-team, and Beast Boy didn't speak too highly of him, either. (While this is set in Flash's then-current continuity, Waid takes a sort of traditionalist take on the Patrol; their next series was still a year out.)

Flash's kids take to the friendly-too-friendly Rita, but then get spooked by her stretching, and run smack into Robotman, then Negative Man. The subsequent brawl rubs Flash the wrong way, but he is placated a bit by a friendly visiting freak, "the one and only" Metamorpho! (That statement may not have been true...)

Over dinner, Linda accuses the DP of enjoying scaring the kids, what with radioactive mummies and visible brains. Iris is observant, and more unnerved by the constantly smiling Rita: Wally points out she's overcompensating.

I had a hard time getting a read on the Chief, here. Is he planning some experiment for his own goals, or is he genuinely trying to help and protective of his "freaks"? His procedure to use Metamorpho to stabilize the kids for a scan goes awry, though, when Metamorpho disappears midway through! (I think there's a clue there, though; that may have tied into the most recent run of Outsiders, but I could be wrong: it may also have been Waid and Perez trying to justify getting rid of those curlicues added to Rex.) The Chief gives Wally the choice of which child to save with Robotman's alloy body, but thinking fast Flash uses Negative Man to save Iris.

The kids are saved, or at least not killed, and the Chief rather uncharitably puts the accident on Metamorpho, who left a mysterious clue: the word "Megistus" etched in the rock. The Flash family, distrustful and scared of the Chief and the Doom Patrol, leave in a hurry. Later, Wally admits to Iris that while he was thinking, he did choose one child...and the guilt eats at him. I have to say, on this re-read, I'm siding with the Chief. The Flash family may have their problems, but the Doom Patrol are living with brutal trauma, if with a morbid sense of humor about it. I would ask Cliff not to take his brain out at the dinner table, though.

Arrgh, I have a couple of these issues: we checked out #13 last year, but #12 would be the conclusion to this Megistus storyline!
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Thursday, March 24, 2016

80-Page Thursdays: Legends of Tomorrow #1!

Hey, an 80-pager you could buy right now! From last week or so, Legends of Tomorrow #1, featuring stories by Len Wein, Keith Giffen, Gerry Conway, and Aaron Lopresti; with art by Aaron Lopresti, Eduardo Pansica, Bilquis Evely, Yildiray Cinar, and more.

Every Day is Like Wednesday had a little write-up on this last week, and rightly point out this package is basically four comics for the price of two. I don't know how all the numbers break down, but it feels like instead of publishing four probably middling-selling mini-series, DC decided to bundle them up and see how the package sells. And naming it after one of their TV shows couldn't hurt.

So, if you like two of the four titles, you're as much as getting your money's worth, right? Well, it may be a bad sign that I was thinking about this book this afternoon and had plumb forgot the Metal Men were in it...and that's not to say the Metal Men story was bad, but it's pretty straight-forward super-heroing. (With that weird anti-robot prejudice that seems prevalent in 90% of the populace in Metal Men comics, and nowhere to be found in the larger DC Universe.) It's just my bad timing that I was re-reading not-super-old Doom Patrol comics with the more-comedic Keith Giffen/J.M.DeMatteis/Kevin Maguire Metal Men, which does feature the aforementioned robophobia but where the titular robots have more personality in a couple panels than they do in Legends of Tomorrow.

(See? From 2009's Doom Patrol #2.)

Likewise, I read Metamorpho's origin just recently already, the 2007-08 Metamorpho: Year One. Not to quote myself, but on that post I said you could never suck all the fun out of Metamorpho: "You could suck fun out of him all day and still have some leftover." So, of course, Bleeding Cool has an interview with writer/artist Aaron Lopresti, who says " the ones I have read there seems to always be a certain air of silliness to the character. In my version, that’s gone." That seems like muting a character with a great voice--a voice that's 75% Marvel's Ben Grimm, but still a great voice! Now, Rex is a prisoner most of this story, but we see both Sapphire and Java getting upgraded to scientist: Sapph had been characterized before as at best, flighty; but Java was a defrosted caveman! (He still is, but on smart drugs, apparently.) I probably sound like I'm bagging on this a bit, and maybe; but it's still not bad...just a bit standardized.

Now, I've never been a big Firestorm fan; but I thought his feature was not unlike the others: a decent superhero story, perhaps lacking a little pop. Giffen's Sugar & Spike update is just confusing, though, as tonally it's all over the map. Let's update a funny toddler strip--that's beloved as such by those few who even remember it--as a light action piece, with a comically creepy Killer Moth, 50's era Batman costumes, and from the current continuity, one-handed Alfred? Together, the choices are just baffling. It would be like deciding to, say, update Archie as a Tarentino-style crime title: it could be done, but why?

I fully realize this probably sounds like a thumbs down for this book, but it really isn't all bad! It is a nice package, but I feel like DC is not taking enough chances with these characters. I want to read about Metamorpho and the Metal Men, so give me Metamorpho and the Metal Men! Don't try and make them like everything else: they aren't, that's the point of them! Go a little more nuts with them, and Firestorm; and what the heck, we'll see where Sugar & Spike is headed.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016


I found "Rattletrap" there at a yard sale some years back; and he had the look of a toy that had spent a winter or three outside. Still, it suits him. Never have been able to figure out what he really is, though: he's from Bandai, but the year is unclear.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Paul Bunyan Machine my ass!"

I was looking for this issue over a year ago, when we checked out the prior chapter, so let's finally check out the fabled Paul Bunyan machine, from 1989's Badger #48, "Juju Jaguar" Written by Mike Baron, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Paul Abrams.

With the aid of the Juju Jaguar, the other assorted animals of the rain forest, and the cross-dressing Handmaidens of the Sacred Blood; Badger and Ham try to stop Gichen Rotsaruck from clear-cutting the entire Amazon. Which is a tall order, since Rotsaruck just received the Paul Bunyan Machine!

The machine does prove to be quite formidable, and between it and his martial arts skill Rotsaruck is able to fend off attacks from Badger, Ham, the head nun, and the Juju Jaguar; before falling prey to a boa constrictor. Just as silly as the previous issue, but fun. If I'm not mistaken, the somewhat more serious Badger Goes Berzerk mini-series was coming up, so Baron may have taken the opportunity to have as much fun as he could first.
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Monday, March 21, 2016

Man, that John Byrne sure likes his rubble.

We mentioned John Byrne's 90's art and its rubble when we checked out OMAC a couple weeks back, but here's some more, color debris, from 1997's Jack Kirby's Fourth World #9, "Sons of the Father" Story and art by John Byrne.

Apokolips, recently merged with New Genesis, has now been separated again; although not without cost. Darkseid has been missing, as a helpful footnote points out, since the end of the (frankly terrible) Genesis miniseries; and a good 27% of Apokolips is completely uninhabitable. (Yeah, like it was a garden spot before.) Desaad, Granny Goodness, and the rest of Darkseid's hangers-on wonder how to proceed without falling into another civil war: without Darkseid's strong leadership (and constant threat of obliteration) they would start squabbling soon enough.

On paper, Darkseid's son Kalibak seems like he should be able to fill the void in leadership: he's got the raw power, the brutality, the lineage. On paper only, though, since his lack of finesse has often been his undoing, although he does all right against Lightray after he points it out. Still, Kalibak's like a typical boss in the middle of any video game: he may give you some trouble the first times you face him, but once you have his number he'll never be a threat to you again. Enter: Orion!

There's a good six-page fight sequence this issue, as Orion mops the floor with Kalibak. Still, Orion notes he once again stayed his hand and gave Kalibak the opportunity to escape, and wonders why. Orion's mother Tigra explains it is prophecy, since Darkseid's son must face him in the final battle. Orion thought that meant him, but she claims it will have to be Kalibak, since Orion is not Darkseid's son! That would've been a staggering retcon, but off the top of my head I'm not sure where Byrne went with that.

Also this issue: a Tales of Apokolips back-up, "School Days" Story and art by Walter Simonson! We meet a young student in Granny Goodness's orphanage, Iluthin, who has just been caught while stealing weapons from Darkseid's personal assassin, Kanto-13. (Granny points out stealing the weapons would be one thing, but getting caught quite another.) His punishment is to run the gauntlet through his fellow students, which he nearly does, save for Kanto-13 at the end. The assassin wants to simply murder the thief, but is stopped by the sudden interest of Darkseid himself! With his Omega Beams, Darkseid sends Iluthin elsewhere...while Kanto-13 resolves to make sure he never returns! If the names ring a bell, you may have an idea where this is headed, but so well done.
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Friday, March 18, 2016

The Hodge and the Podge:

Well, let's start with this, since I've been listening to it on and off for the last couple weeks: Bit Brigade's Mega Man 2 set:

I did have Contra stuck in my head for a while, too...

As of this writing, I have yet to complete my stupid Justice Buster, since Reverse Flash has yet to be restocked, and it is just gnawing at me. I think of myself as pretty easygoing, willing to let things play out--my wife hates my routine, lackadaisically dismissive "fine," but I think it keeps me sane. And yet...when I was working on that X-Men Six Player, that ate up a lot of my thinking. Oh, and I finished a third one. Here:

For my next stupid project to do instead of blogging, I was considering getting a Marvel Legends Blizzard to repaint as the Heckler. Ooh, I'm sure that wouldn't drive me all OCD...

Back to the Justice Buster for a moment: I was mildly surprised I had a comic with it, and then mildly surprised how little it was in said comic! From last January, Batman #36, "Endgame, part two" Written by Scott Snyder, pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Danny Miki. I'm not 100% sure how I got it, though. I was convinced it was a promo from Batman Day, but apparently not; so I probably picked it up on sale. Weird issue, though; but that's probably to be expected midway through like that: Batman still has nightmarish visions from "Crane's Cassandra strain of fear toxin," this issue of getting killed by Killer Croc. Then immediately on the next page, Batman's ongoing battle with a Joker-toxin controlled Justice League. There's no big hero shot of the Justice Buster here, as it's destroyed by a crazed Superman pretty quickly.

Batman notes, between himself and Superman: "Who wins in a fight? Neither of us." Probably how that movie is going to go, too...

Marvel is putting out so many books right now, and a lot of them aren't too bad. Some, like the new Mockingbird ongoing, are pretty great!

Ah, wish I'd seen that action-figure cover variant.

Elsewhere, my Youngest son has been obsessed with old video games of late, so I probably shouldn't have pointed Internet Arcade out to him. We both finished the old arcade version of Superman, a game I had actually played some years back. And I was way crappier at it than I's got the classic John Williams music, but is also repetitive as all get out. Still a bit of fun, though. Now, on to Batman...(EDIT: Which I finished, though it took a lot of virtual quarters!)
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

80-Page Thursdays: Time Warp #1!

I know I've read at least some of DC's 1979-80 sci-fi anthology Time Warp (like the Ditko story, "On the Day of His Return") but just got this one recently: from 2013, Time Warp #1, with stories by Damon Lindelof, Gail Simone, Peter Milligan, and more; and art by Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Mark Buckingham, and more. This time capsule's from three years ago, so how is it?

Mildly disappointing. Hey, what's the easiest, laziest time-travel story you can think of? One that I'm mildly surprised the original series didn't appear to do, although they did a similar one with Einstein? Yep, time-travelers vs. Hitler. Two variations on that here, and while they are variations, it's been done.

Lindelof and Lemire open with "R.I.P." Trapped in prehistory, Rip Hunter flees dinosaurs, with only begrudging help from his future selves. Gail Simone has a far more imaginative and charming tale, "I Have What You Need," with art by Gael Bertrand, about a candy-maker who can bring back memories.

Simon Spurrier and Michael Dowling's "The Grudge" tells of two scientists' decades of foul-mouthed science pranks, albeit in a PG-13 fashion. (Oddly, other stories had cursing; this one that could've used it did not.) Then another Dead Boy Detectives story, then Peter Milligan and M.K. Perker's sci-fi haunting, "She's Not There."

Maybe three good ones out of nine here? And while I didn't pay the $7.99 cover price, I still paid too much per good one. Need to "time warp" back and warn myself not to bother...
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016


This is a legit Star Trek problem--not to be confused with the Robot's Pajamas ongoing strip, Star Trek Problems, which is great! But to the point, how long is a ride in the turbolift--a glorified elevator--from the bridge to the transporter room? Yeah, generally it's about the same amount of time as whatever exposition you have to have before you get there. Next Gen may have laid off that a bit, and actually had briefings in briefing rooms, but it's ongoing. TV Tropes refers to it as Elevator Conference, so I'm not the only one to notice.
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