Friday, July 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Probably not tournament legal, but oh well.

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

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

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

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

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Monday, July 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking at the cover gallery, I feel like I read more of this series than I saw the TV show; and I watch a lotta TV! But I don't think I watched Lois & Clark or even Smallville regularly. Love Supergirl, though.
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Today, a book I never thought I'd get to read; and...enh. From 1988, Batgirl Special #1, "The Last Batgirl Story" Written by Barbara Randall, pencils by Barry Kitson, inks by Bruce D. Patterson.

This issue is probably best known for being the last Batgirl story before the Killing Joke, but since I'd missed some stories prior I was confused: having nearly been killed by the paid assassin Comorant, Batgirl is more or less retired, until someone is murdered in her library and Comorant's hat is left there. Meanwhile, Barbara's old friend Marcy visits and confronts her over her secret identity; and in Gotham, a new vigilante, Slash, is murdering rapists. In broad daylight, on the streets; but wouldn't that be the best time? No bats then...

I was positive Slash was going to turn out to be Marcy, because that's how that usually works. I think this was Marcy's first appearance, so it's a best friend we've never seen before, although the context seems to imply Marcy made the first Batgirl costume, back when it was just going to be for Barbara's Halloween. Slash had never appeared before; but Comorant had shot Batgirl in Detective Comics #491. Yet Batgirl made more than a few appearances after that, but apparently getting shot affected her more than she let on--or editorial decided to phase her out here.

There's a scene of Barbara using a computer to hack some records, a precursor of her becoming Oracle; but there's also a scene of her checking out all her Batgirl gear...just so she can quit in the end. With the house ad for Killing Joke on the next page. Still, she does take care of her final case; and I don't think Slash, Comorant, or Marcy have appeared since. Oh, and this might have the last mention of her time in Congress; Barbara doesn't say if her re-election bid failed or if she didn't run again.

Overall, the whole issue feels like it's all over the place: you want Batgirl to have agency and rise up to the occasion, but she has to end up retired in the end. She has to be prepared but caught by surprise, brave yet terrified, competent but outmatched. I didn't love this one, but worth a look if it turns up. Oh, and Mike Mignola cover! Pretty iconic there.
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