Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"Kitchen 2."

We hadn't seen Satana or Black Cat since June, Hellcat since a bit before that, and Frank guest-starred back in April 2015! But this is a new Punisher figure, the Walgreens exclusive Punisher! (Which may or not be available at that link now.) Oddly, I thought I would like the other head more, but the bandanna-one has grabbed me. I did try the other head on the Commander Rogers body, and didn't look bad.

The kitchen set hadn't been seen in a bit, either. Hasn't fallen apart yet, which is a plus!
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I plot like this by myself, with co-plotters it could get out of hand...

Today, a story I've wanted to blog forever, but couldn't find a copy to fit in my scanner! Which is weird, since I've bought the bigger version twice! From 1979, Marvel Treasury Edition #22, reprinting Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5, "Here We Go A-Plotting!" "No credits for this one 'cause nobody will take the blame!" Per the GCD, story and pencils by Marie Severin, inks by Frank Giacoia, preliminary layouts by John Romita.

Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and John Romita are locked in mortal combat against...writer's block, coming up with a plot for the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip! Luckily, Larry first gets heartburn from, then nearly chokes on, a green sour ball; giving Stan and John the inspiration they need for a strip with Spidey hiring a housekeeper for Aunt May...that's really Dr. Doom in disguise!

I love the idea of Stan and John writing Spidey into a corner every week or so, then coasting until they have to write their way out of it. And I got this book when I was a kid: I lent some books to an older friend, who lost them, but gave me two treasury editions to replace them! Then I lost it when my basement flooded some years back, but lucked into a replacement. And yet, I've never been able to find a copy that would fit in my scanner. The main story of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 was reprinted in Marvel Tales, but not this back-up. A shame, it's more fun!
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Monday, August 29, 2016

Either an extra-crafty, extra-circuitous plan; or Loki just managed to fail uphill.

In the movies, Loki usually seems at least three steps ahead of everyone else. In Avengers in particular, getting captured isn't a setback for him, it's just another step in his plan. In the comics, Loki's schemes aren't always as well thought out...but sometimes...From 1971, Thor #194, "This Fatal Fury!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Sal Buscema.

Loki's controlling the board at the start here: he's got the Odin-Ring, he's got storm giants backing him up, he's got Thor away from Mjolnir, and he's got a wedding planned, to the Lady Sif! Dragging her off, they don't notice Thor turn into Dr. Donald Blake, scamper away from the giants, and regain Mjolnir. Fighting reams of giants, the people of Asgard are more than impressed with their prince, but can't disobey while Loki has the Odin-Ring...even though it is causing Loki some pain.

Thor brings the battle to the wedding, while the Warriors Three wake Odin from the Odinsleep, and discover he can't intercede. For a change, Loki is able to overpower Thor in battle, but the power of the Odinring becomes too much for him, leaving him alternately blind and withered until he casts it away, for Odin to casually pick back up. Odin banishes Loki once again, and as Thor and Sif embrace, he explains the ring isn't the power, merely a tool. Still, the Vizier takes Odin aside, to check out the Cosmic Well, and they observe Loki, cackling with glee, apparently banished to exactly where he wanted to be! Odin seems to realize he messed up, bad...!

Also this issue: a Stan Lee/Jack Kirby reprint, "The Golden Apples!"
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Friday, August 26, 2016

Not unlike the Hulkbuster armor, I think it's had more action figures than comic appearances...

I may have confused it with some other armor--possibly the Hulkbuster--or maybe a sarcastic comment I took at face value, but I swear I thought the Spider-Armor only lasted like three pages. It lasts at least eight, in 1992's Web of Spider-Man #100, "Total War" Written by Terry Kavanagh, pencils by Alex Saviuk, inks by Joe Rubinstein.

With the Kingpin currently out of the picture, it's gang war season in New York City again, and currently the New Enforcers are trying to destroy the Foreigner's evidence against them. New Enforcers? What happened to Montana, Ox, and Fancy Dan? This new group was a grab-bag of villains, including old pros like the Vanisher, the Eel, and Plantman; newbies like Thermite and Tangle; and robot types Dragon Man, Dreadnought, and the Super-Adaptoid. (The Super-Adaptoid by itself should've been plenty!) While Spidey's trying to deal with that lot, Richard Fisk--the son of the Kingpin, and former crime boss the Rose--has taken the identity Blood Rose and was going vigilante against the criminals plotting to take his father's place. Richard's motivation was always a bit questionable--was he plotting to destroy the Kingpin, or for his own power?--and was further complicated by his friend Alfredo, who had helped him as the Rose, then betrayed him and took his place. Alfredo was brought down, but then came back with a mysterious gauntlet stolen from another vigilante, Nightwatch. Alfredo named himself Gauntlet, and was coming back for revenge against Richard.

The whole thing comes down to a slugfest, with Spidey's new armor--an "experimental hard-web agent" that had to cost Peter Parker a few bucks--giving him enough of a edge to mop up most of them. Several of the New Enforcers, Richard, and Alfredo are all left for the cops; although Spidey is confused since Richard and Alfredo look very much alike, and he had thought Richard had been shot. Nightwatch recovers his power gauntlet, and the rest of the issue is the new hero's origin, where a young man is saved by a dying vigilante, who appears to be an older version of himself! This origin may have been retconned some time later...

I picked up the Web-Trap Spider-Man last month, but there have been a few versions. He's got a pretty good spring-loaded launcher arm, too. I don't recall if I bought it before the comic here, though.
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

I was confusing her with another character, but still wrong.

Got this little trade for a buck-fifty: from 2013, Iron Man: Armored Vengeance, reprinting Iron Man #258.1 to #258.4, script by Bob Layton and David Michelinie, pencils by Dave Ross, inks by Layton. Why #258.1 on? Because the numbering for Iron Man wasn't already a nightmare...actually, as the introduction points out, while Michelinie and Layton were the creative team for the original Armor Wars storyline, John Byrne and John Romita Jr. did the follow-up, Armor Wars II, in the original Iron Man #258. This series was Michelinie and Layton's own spin on a sequel...

There are a couple good points for it: it does tie in to a point from their run when Rhodey was nearly killed and a bit gun-shy about suiting back up, and gets him back on track. There's also some classic IM foes, the Dreadnoughts and the Mandroids. Unfortunately, I don't consider Justin Hammer a classic, even if here he's the aged industrialist and not the hip douchebag of the films. Hammer used nanites on Stark, which combined with the biochip in his spine to form the Entity, an online consciousness out to destroy any that might stop it. (EDIT: The biochip and the Entity weren't still in Stark's spine, that might've raised the stakes some!)

A couple supporting characters are killed by the Entity, namely Stark's personal physician Dr. Sondheim, and his girlfriend Rae LaCoste. But that doesn't fit, continuity-wise: LaCoste dated Rhodey in the War Machine book. That makes this a "What If?" kind of story; I wish I had the original Armor Wars II handy to compare it to. I was misremembering and confusing Rae with the much, much cooler Bethany Cabe, and I was going to be pissed if she was killed off.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Picked up "Bluepool" here from eBay a couple of weeks back, and had no idea what to do with first. Where is he from? Ooh, it's a surprise; a deep Marvel cut that still turns up from time to time. And we'll check out some of the comics we're referencing as well, next week!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

So, we mentioned the Forgotten One, Gilgamesh, last week; why not check out his Avengers Spotlight story?...I can't think of a reason why not, and I'm really trying. From 1990, Avengers Spotlight #35, "Call Me Whatshisname" Written by Danny Fingeroth, pencils by Jim Valentino, inks by Jeff Albrecht.

I may have read this back in 1990, but offhand I thought this issue was part of that "Avengers Reborn" thing this title was doing, that gave us Black Knight, Tigra, and Dr. Druid stories: it's not. Maybe it was supposed to be, but it may have been used as a fill-in for whatever reason; a caption on the splash page notes the book's usual headliner, Hawkeye, would not be seen that month.

Instead, we get the return of Gilgamesh...which I'm not at all positive anyone was jumping up and down for. He had recovered from the beatdown that took him out of the Avengers (the group and the comic!) but was still rather grumpy, and the puckish Sprite had taken it upon himself to both cheer up his Eternal brethren and work on his name recognition. The latter may be the harder sell, since Gil notes no one ever took notice of his deeds before, someone always poached the credit. Sure enough, moments after the start of their visit to Paris, Gilgamesh stops a robbery, and the press fawns all over a nearby actor, mistakenly assuming he stopped the crime. Gil figures his lot in life is to be unsung and unappreciated, unless there was a mighty foe he could prove himself a dragon or something...

Cue dragons, stage left. Riding a dragon and leading a pack of them, B'gon the Sorcerer confronts his ancient foe Gilgamesh...who, amusingly, has never heard of him. B'gon recounts his earlier defeat at the Eternal's hands, and in many stories this would involve time-travel or such; this time I think it's merely mistaken identity. Gilgamesh covered for Hercules for at least one of the god's twelve labors, perhaps it was Herc who defeated B'gon and the sorcerer simply couldn't tell. Anyway, long story short (too late!) Gil defeats B'gon, who disappears with his dragons, and Sprite, disguised as Captain America, gives him a hearty endorsement to the gathered press. Who, the next day, give "Cap" the credit; although Gilgamesh does have to smile: at least his name's out there.

This is a little throwaway story, with far too many coincidences for even this type of one-shot comic, but Valentino's art still has some charm.
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Is a supporting character's birthday party ever going to end well?

Oddly, we mentioned this issue while looking at the previous one, but it's not the only thing I find inexplicable here: from 2001, Batman #587, "Officer Down, part one: These are your Rights" Written by Greg Rucka, pencils by Rick Burchett, inks by Rodney Ramos.

The GCD's synopsis is brief and to the point: "James Gordon's fellow officers throw him a birthday party. It has an unhappy ending." Well, the cover and title of this crossover pretty much spoil it right off; but Gordon talks to his daughter on his birthday and from the start it seems pretty obvious something's going to happen to him. At his party, he also has a gift for each of his fellow officers in attendance: a handcuff key. Not merely for its utilitarian value, but as a metaphor for the "power of arrest" and the responsibility they as cops have. (I hardly ever give lectures on my birthday!)

Leaving the bar, Gordon is accosted by none other than the Catwoman! Who seems to be there just to give him the hassle a bit, but when he tries to arrest her, Gordon is shot three times in the back--and accidentally shoots Catwoman in the leg! "Officer Down" would be continued in the next issue of Robin, and at a glance this would be a relatively quick crossover--all in March 2001, but across seven issues. (Eight if you count a Batgirl tie-in.) Not having the next issues handy, I'm not sure if a better reason is given for Catwoman's involvement, other than the need for her to get in on the crossover...
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Friday, August 19, 2016

Mildly surprised Marvel hasn't given up on Inhumans, and started trying to make the Eternals happen.

A bit ago on Twitter, Kurt Busiek mentioned he thought Jack Kirby's Eternals should have been left on their own--as Kirby may have originally intended--rather than folded into the Marvel Universe. By extension, that would also remove the Deviants and the Celestials, and overall I think I've read more stories with them than the Eternals! (Ghaur of the Deviants was one of the heavies in Atlantis Attacks, and the Celestials had multiple arcs in Thor.) I do still like Ikaris's costume, though. From 2008, the Incredible Hercules #116, "Prelude to Sacred Invasion: Metamorphoses" Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, pencils by Rafa Sandoval, inks by Roger Bonet.

This was early in Herc's run, spinning out of World War Hulk, and a bit of a breather issue before the next storyline. It's also a crossover with the most recent run of the Eternals, as Ikaris and Thena confront Hercules, believing him to be one of their own, Gilgamesh. (AKA the Forgotten One, from his brief Avengers tenure.) Thena explains, most of the Eternals have had their memories wiped by Sprite--Thena describes him only as "mischievous," which makes it sound like a prank that got out of hand--and the speedster Makkari had been told by the Celestials the Forgotten One was coming. They assume Herc only thinks he's Herc, and it doesn't help that he doesn't have the best memory. Or isn't super-forthcoming about it.

Eventually, Makkari lets Ikaris and Thena know, oops, the Celestials were on about metaphorical "forgotten ones," not Gilgamesh specifically, and everyone kind of just wanders away from the fight. Herc mentions to his companion Amadeus Cho his mild disappointment at being a god with a jerky opposed to an Eternal with "that eye beam thing." The issue closes with Athena (not Thena!) summoning "the Council Elite of the Divine Pantheons" to warn them earth had already been conquered by the Skrulls! While I know they're both beardy, paternalistic white guys; that Council Elite looked a bit thin without Odin or Zeus in it...
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

80-Page Thursday: Marvel Super-Heroes Fall Special #7!

Usually, I'd say "the dramatic conclusion!" Except I'm not sure it is the conclusion, and I'm not sure I can call any story with a backwards-R in the title dramatic...from 1991, Marvel Super-Heroes Fall Special (#7), featuring stories by Roy & Dann Thomas, Peter David, Steve Grant, and Barry Dutter; art by Vince Evens, Steve Ditko, Gary Hartle, Larry Alexander, and more.

The lead story, "Sterility 'R' Us!" is the second of three parts: Still on the trail of the Mark II Sentinels, the X-Men find a Dr. Cynthia Chalmers, daughter of one of the Mark II's builders. She had been researching them, and is present when the robots repair themselves for another go at sterilizing humanity. (Their logic: if mankind stops having babies, mutants will stop being born. Making them somewhat lazy robots, really.)

The X-Men track the Sentinels down, in time to rescue the captured Storm, Doc Samson, and Abomination. The latter is apparently killed in the battle, but returns after Samson and the X-Men have left; and is approached by Dr. Chalmers to rebuild and control the Mark II's! Psylocke had done a shoddy job of scanning Chalmers, not realizing she was dying of cancer and wanted to kill all mutants...Ugh, I actually have read the conclusion and technically even blogged that issue, but have virtually no recollection of it off the top of my head...

Also this issue: Peter David writes a Cloak & Dagger story featuring the return of the Golden Age Angel, who is now an old man living with the homeless beneath NYC. There's a Shroud story, and a Marvel Boy story made problematic by later continuity: although he isn't close to his dad, he agrees to go see wrestling with him...later in New Warriors, Marvel Boy would change his alias to Justice, and serve time for the manslaughter death of his father.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Why wouldn't Kurt book for home the moment Pool's back was turned? Reasons, next week!

So this wraps up the SWORD arc, and I gotta say those guys were doomed from the start. Not unlike a lot of characters you see in sci-fi: the Doctor and his companions may meet any number of interesting people in their travels, and a lot of them are straight-up murdered for the experience. Likewise, if you ever watched Star Trek: Voyager, the lost crew of that ship would occasionally encounter characters that you'd wish would join (if not outright replace some of) the crew, and that would never end up happening. (You could argue Seven of Nine, but she was designed to be a star. That show could've benefited with a looser the time they got home, they could've been down to only a couple of the original crew!)

Several things either didn't work out, or got cut: Dayton and Park were going to have a lot more rivalry. Dayton wasn't always intended to betray the others; he was going to be eaten by smaller, buglike aliens; possibly while abandoning the others and fleeing. (Think Paul Winfield's death in Damnation Alley, only less dignified.) Spires was going to die of an infection she had picked up on an alien planet, several years prior: because the crew spent so much time in suspended animation, it took that long for it to become fatal. And we don't have any Rigellian action figures, of course; but they're the aliens Hercules got his sidekick robot Recorder from in the Bob Layton miniseries: Deadpool was going to ask for a Recorder of his own, and be told the robot killed itself rather than have to record everything Pool says. Kurt was going to find a log with Spires's first name, but I don't think they were so close to her that it would've meant anything: Pool was more interested in their mission to get a cancer cure, and that wasn't going to happen. I also thought about going in the direction that even alien cultures weren't great with cancer, thinking of Captain Mar-vell's death; but looking it up he might've been saved if not for his nega-bands.

Coming up soon: a set I really, really should've started on may or may not end up anything like I have planned now. We'll see!
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How much hate can you buy with eight billion dollars? With twenty?

On the brighter side, it does employ a lot of people. From 1999, Superman Adventures #27, "How Much Can One Man Hate?" Written by Mark Millar, pencils by Aluir Amancio, inks by Terry Austin.

It's business as usual today in Metropolis: another of Lex Luthor's attempts to have Superman murdered has failed, and as usual Supes knows full well it was Lex, even if a mountain of doctored evidence and a phony paper trail say otherwise. A frustrated Superman wonders why Lex wastes all that time and energy (and cash, even if he doesn't mention that here) but Lex tells him "If you have to ask, you'll never know."

After reviewing his losses with Mercy, Lex visits a new statue of Superman, and has a new idea. The next day, before Superman can get to the scene of a Parasite crime, it's stopped by new hero Superior-Man! The smug, smarmy showboat makes a splash taking down threats like Kalibak, Titano, and the Toyman; but when Superman makes it obvious he's not going to leave Metropolis just because a new hero shows up, Superior-Man attacks him. His Kryptonite vision is a bit of a surprise, until an explosion reveals him to be Metallo--"the killer with the Kryptonite heart," even if he's never killed anyone with it. Brainwashed and given a new look by Lex, Metallo is furious, and attacks Luthor and Mercy. With his lead anti-Kryptonite suit, Superman gets Metallo's heart out, saving Luthor, and then delivers a scathing wake-up call to Lex. Or, as Lex puts it, a "patronizing little rant."

When an inspired Lex again declares "I believe this is my most perfect scheme yet," we're getting a bit too much into Pinky & the Brain territory, but a flashback to Lex at age seven shows his motivation quite clearly: already a genius, Lex had plans to look down upon Metropolis even then, and can't stand the idea of anyone over him, even a Superman.

I was joking a little with the lead-in, but with an eight (soon to be twenty...) billion dollar budget, Lex would have to be employing a good number of people. A lot of them are probably thugs, not pulling down mad-scientist grade salaries, but there would also be a lot of hush money to be paid, too. (Fall guys who would take a rap, and keep their mouths shut; in exchange for supporting their families during their sentence. Stuff like that.) Drilling down in that budget would be fascinating...

By the way, the other day CBR had a list of the worst things Luthor has ever done, but two I thought were the worst didn't even make the cut: murdering a terminally ill woman, then marrying her clone as a deathtrap for Superman, and having Vesper Fairchild murdered to frame Bruce Wayne.
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Monday, August 15, 2016

It's weird that Superboy's last Legion mission...would have so little Superboy or Legion.

From 1980, Legion of Super-Heroes #259, "Psycho War" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Joe Staton, inks by Dave Hunt. 

Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Sun Boy fell victim to a mental attack last issue; but a medical team from St. Croix's arrives to help quickly. Suspiciously quickly. With reason, since they know the attacker, a mental patient that escaped. The patient they call the Psycho-Warrior, actually seems to have escaped from another comic, perhaps an old EC title like Weird Science. (Which, admittedly, I was reading just before this one!) 

Young Rejis Thomak was born on the nightmarish colony planet Bunyon's World, which had resisted four generations of colonists with man-eating plants and animals. Even though it's described as a "hell-planet," Rejis had found love with there, and was leaving with his girlfriend for college on earth.  (I concede a college degree is important, but it's implied they had already been fighting monsters for several years, and were going to return to fight more monsters after college! The money may be good, but I'm not sure what degree would be helpful there.)

Pulled off course by a "pre-nova star," Regis manages to get to an escape pod; but is thrown into the release, accidentally leaving his girlfriend to die.  Utterly crushed, while being treated at St. Croix, Regis crosses paths with recuperating Legionnaire Brainiac 5, and develops a pathological hatred of the team. (Somewhat surprisingly, not due to anything Brainy did!) Sun Boy in particular, for being a reminder of his girlfriend's death; but Regis stole "psych-profiles" on the entire team, which gave him access to their greatest fears.  

With the assembled Legionnaires paralyzed by an "optic detonator," Regis is free to attack Superboy with his greatest fear: the deaths of his foster parents, Ma and Pa Kent.  That hits Supes hard, but he's still able to get Regis to face the sun and his own fears and remorse.  Still, afterwards the incident has greatly affected Superboy, who admits he had previously seen his visits to the future as "a never-never land," that has now become real.  He knows he won't remember the details of the Kents' deaths when he returns to the 20th century, but he would every time he came to the future...and that's why the Legion can't let him come back.  

In somewhat typical Legion fashion, instead of talking it over with Supes, Saturn Girl plants a post-hypnotic suggestion, that he not return to the 30th century.  And he wouldn't for some time...probably not until the Great Darkness War, I think.  This issue was part of a DC house ad, highlighting the split between the Legion and Superboy. The Superboy cover has Ma Kent imploring him to put an extra candle on his 16th birthday cake; and I'm not positive I remember why...

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