Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's all fun and games, until I run someone over.

From a link at CNN, Road Signs Warn of Zombies: "cameras caught many drivers slowing down to read the signs as they approached. Some read, 'Zombies ahead! Run for your lives!'"

Funny, but if I had been driving through there, I guarantee you I would have completely freaked out, and quite probably run someone down while screaming "Die, you inhuman monster!"

Little known fact about me: I love zombie movies, and am at a constant level of cat-like alertness for zombie attack. (And only zombie attack, sadly, any other crisis I'm as unprepared as anyone else. Zombies I've got, though.)

So please, think twice before panicking extreme zombie-phobes like myself, won't you? And, it probably says something about our times that "zombies" are the boogieman du jour; considering we used to be afraid of alien or communist invasion... Read more!

Friday, January 30, 2009

In my head, Starro sounds like Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants. Unfortunate.

Sorry, tiny today, so click to enlarge!

Look, if you walk around with a mace all day long, and work with Hal Jordan, I don't see how you could avoid hitting him the head at some point. Thanks again to Hoosier Journal of Inanity's Sea of Green, whose "My Pal Itty" strips gave me the Starro idea.

Under Grant Morrison, Starro became less of a crazy alien menace-of-the-month; and more a creeping, almost Lovecraftian dread. Not a bad angle, Starro as a vast, tidal intelligence, revolting and terrible. But my favorite Starro appearance (except maybe in the O-Squad, if he made that...) was in Justice League Europe. Starro passes himself off to "fellow alien" Kilowog as not a universe-despoiling conqueror, but as a creature that has been humbled and learned compassion, in the multiple sphincter-kickings he's received on earth. I won't go on now, except to say Starro takes over J'onn J'onzz before being defeated by the last Leaguer you'd expect.

And the DCUC "Shazam!" figure? Nice. I had no problems at all with Captain Marvel, and am thrilled. I'm not a huge Marvel Family fan, and never had a proper CM figure until now, but he's worth having. He'll be turning up again...

It is a little off-putting, though, to consider that these really sharp figures are be released at a time when these characters have either no, or vastly changed, appearances in current comic continuity. Isn't Billy Batson the wizard Marvel now, or some such? And Hawkman was killed, and Mr. Miracle isn't Scott Free and has a new costume. Even the Superman figure doesn't line up with the comics, unless you travel back to the 90's mullet days. Not sure about Kalibak (and haven't built him yet) but so far the closest figure to the character's current appearance, just might be Killer Moth, if he's not still a soulless moth-monster-man.

Maybe the DCUC are only being bought by collectors and fans who already know about the characters; or maybe Mattel is leaving it to the buyer's imagination. If little Timmy gets a Batgirl/Azreal two-pack, they can be heroes or villains, friends or enemies, noble or evil; whatever he wants. Of course, if Timmy likes the figures enough to check out some comics with those characters, he's in for a rude awakening when he finds that particular Batgirl's been paralyzed for years and Azreal is dead and forgotten. Yay, comics?

Well, Captain Marvel still has an all-ages book, so that's something. Which reminds me: how old is Billy Batson supposed to be now? Certainly not a teenager, right? I'm thinking ten, maybe; but went with eight since it's funnier there. I understand in JSA he was understandably attracted to Stargirl, since they're close to the same age; except it's really creepy to watch the fully-grown Captain hitting on the fourteen-year-old Courtney. Tough explaining that one to the casual onlooker. Or the rest of the Society. Read more!

Post #771: In which I have nothing to complain about...

Quite the opposite, in fact! In December, you may recall I donated some figures for Toys for Tots at the Comic Book Shop for Paul's contest over at Toy Bender! And, with the links, I just wrote this sentence like the end of a game of Clue for some reason...
Sadly, like most comic characters or action figures, I'm often seen in the same outfit.
And, I won second place! I got some Star Wars Order 66 two-packs, a Sideshow Bespin Luke Skywalker figure (here's a review from MWC Toys) and a $50 gift certificate to Big Bad Toy Store!

I attached the review because I'm not a 12-inch collector, and as such don't know much in that area, but that Bespin Luke is probably the nicest toy I've had...ever.

My BBTS order arrived Thursday: a Battlestar Galactica Helo (possibly still on sale in their Winter Clearance!) and DCUC Hawkman and Mr. Miracle! Now, Helo was just because he was on sale, I didn't have any BG figures and wanted to check one out, and I like that he was initially a character that was intended to be written off, and instead has managed to make it to the current episodes. Now that I have his figure, you can rest assured Helo is completely doomed.

But Hawkman and Mr. Miracle I was totally looking forward to. I already had homemade strips written for them, something I almost never do until I have the toys in hand. On the other hand, I was also sweating as their arrival date needed, since reports of Mattel's quality control problems have been making the rounds. Happy to say, both of them came out just fine.

It is only slightly ironic that I received Hawkman, the day after he (and Hawkgirl) were apparently killed, again, in Final Crisis. Why the Hawks? Couldn't kill a Flash again or something?

No, none of that today: today, let's have a big ol' thanks for Paul of Toy Bender and Big Bad Toy Store, and I of course encourage you to check them both out, they're awesome. Thanks again!
Read more!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

An afternoon thought:

Even though I'm not really reading the books, I am keeping up on Green Lantern and the amazing technicolor Lantern Corps at Hoosier Journal of Inanity and Green Lantern Butts Forever! This particular post got me thinking on it, though: they haven't made a big splash yet, the Orange Lanterns aren't going to be Halloween themed. I know, I'm a little disappointed too. Instead, orange is apparently the color of Avarice, or greed.

Now, I was out for a walk and thinking about toys and how much fun it would be to have a shiny, awesome power ring; without any of the hassle of Guardians of the Universe telling you sexing up your fellow ring-wielders is bad, or having to obey Sinestro's insane commands, or vomiting up rage...well, maybe on that last one. No, maybe not. I want a ring, and all the powers, without any rules or commandments or puke. Orange seems like the way to go, since I don't even know what the organization for that one is. (Over at Marvel, the Elder of the Universe the Collector would be a natural for this, but I can not think of a DC character that would be spear-heading a bunch of greedy ring bastards.) Plus, they would be cool with my action-figure hording ways...

And it struck me: if the Orange Lanterns are all about avarice and greed, then who gives out the rings? Something tells me some recruiter is wearing like a dozen of those rings (don't ask where...) and has crates more at home, but still isn't giving them out. The expansion plan has hit a snag, I think. Read more!

Timing, part twenty-one.

I used to babysit a lot when I was a kid, and it's fun for a while, but eventually you've eaten all the host's food that you can find, been through the channels, and played with all the kids' toys; yet there's still the indeterminable wait for the parents to come home. (I was too young a babysitter and too goody-goody for advanced activities like Raid the Liquor Cabinet or Quest for Porn.) Where is Cable? Your guess is as good as mine! I was going to check on him, but that fell through, sorry.

Mailing away Deathstroke, Crossbones, and the corpse formerly known as Bullseye seems like an appropriate punishment, and something that'll shut them up: no way badasses like that are going to willingly admit getting beatdown and mailed away...

I haven't posted them all, but so far I've done forty-nine pages for "Timing." And it's still not done, so Nightcrawler and Deadpool are going to be babysitting for a good while longer. Eventually, I'll have a post with all the pages together...that oughta grind your computer to a halt. Once "Timing" wraps, my goal was to do a strip without Kurt and Pool, and instead with some figures I haven't used before. Which means, I had probably better just buy some new toys, since it would be too much work to see who hasn't shown up in the backgrounds somewhere already. Read more!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On Memory, and Mistakes!

It's funny, the tricks your memory can play on you, even on such a little thing as an old comic panel. For example, I knew Deadpool kicks Captain America in the crotch, but I pictured this:
...and was able to knock it together in about five minutes...
In actual fact, the panel looked like this:
I like the flag they went with for this.
I had completely forgotten that Pool was wearing some kind of living lizard armor. ("I think I'm going to scream like a little fairy," he says after it crawls onto him.) And you don't get to see Deadpool's face or eyes, so his expression could be open to interpretation: is he overjoyed at taking down Cap? Amused at his dirty trick? Ashamed for stooping so low? Or does bringing free will back to the universe weigh a little more heavily on Pool's shoulders? Well, I'm afraid working with expressionless action figures, your guess is (at least) as good as mine.

This isn't the first time I've done this, either: my mental picture of a certain panel turns out to be completely wrong. Or, I remember what happened, but the details are wrong; and I usually remember the panel in question as larger, and probably cooler, than they turned out to be on the actual page. Remember that panel way back in Claremont and Byrne's Uncanny X-Men, where Wolverine rises from the sewage, claws bared, ready for payback? If you've read comics for a long time, probably. But go back and look at it: I bet it's not as big a panel as you remember, and while it's still a dramatic moment and went a long way to turning Wolverine into the hit he would become; is it as dramatic as you remember? Or did you think he was more torn up, bloodier? In the version in your head, did Wolvie emerge from the sewers, bodies of sliced Hellfire Club guards floating around him? Was he masked? Is he even wearing the costume you thought he was?

Well, even if your memory is going to hell and/or romanticizing the hell out of old comics, there's not much you can do about it, right? I mean, once the comic is printed, it's not like you could go back and correct it, is it? Hmm. Maybe.
Could anyone get away with this today?
Back when Marvel was ramping up to the first Secret Wars, most of the participating heroes were taken by an alien device, usually at the end the April 1984 dated issue. But the Mighty Thor appeared to be plotted ahead of that, so in the March issue...something happens. Something so big Walt Simonson couldn't even tell you about it yet! It happens early on, though: the blank spot is page two, and by page five, "A couple of weeks later," Thor is back and visiting Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan. (Yeah, Thor made it through Secret Wars without any big changes, except maybe the little seed of trying to make the Enchantress a more sympathetic character. I also thought a lot of books took a month without the heroes that had disappeared, but I might be off there.)

This panel probably isn't missing as often as the Marvel Value Stamps, but I wonder.
In the next month's issue, #342, across from a full page ad for Secret Wars, the mystery panels were "revealed." And by the way, I love the way Thor's flying in that panel. Aerodynamics are for lesser beings. But it's all in fun, and that and the chatty, friendly-written letters page work to bring readers into the fold. It's not the bombastic Stan Lee hype Marvel had usually used, it's more like, hey, here's a little secret, come in close.

Of course, not too long after these issues, began the idea of comics as investments that needed to be bagged and boarded and in pristine unread condition. The very notion of hacking up a comic? Unheard of! Even as a nod and a wink to the reader. And now with letter pages gone the way of the Hostess ads, where would these corrections come from? Unless...

Let's make up an example: suppose during a big event like Secret Invasion; a character in a mid-level book, like She-Hulk or the Initiative, stumbles across something that would be a big reveal in the main book. Say, Triathlon accidentally discovers the Skrull Queen. It would be in character, since he had the Skrull-spotting goggles. Plus, that way when the Queen's revealed in SI two months later, Triathlon wouldn't look like an ass for missing it. But, understandably, the writers might not want to tip their hand yet, or waste a big reveal in a secondary book. What to do, what to do...

Panel one: Triathlon recaps his powers, where he's at in the story, and what his goggles can do.

Panel two: He sees a number of other characters, including the hidden Queen.

Panel three: "Gasp! Choke! The Skrull Queen! It's--"

Panel four: "Find out who is the Skrull Queen, in Secret Invasion #1, or print the panels online at some date after SI's sale date!"

In an ensemble book like the Initiative, this could work a little better, since the writer could then cut away from Triathlon (or 3-D Man, if he's calling himself that now...) and see what Ant-Man or Taskmaster or someone else is up to. It might be nice if they also reprinted the mystery panel in a later issue, but that seems like a fun way to have your cake and eat it too, and hype up your web traffic. On the other hand, there would be work involved; co-ordinating the continuity, setting up the website, and then the readers have to get involved as well. And then, would the online panel be something that's going to be available to everyone, or does the reader have to put in a code from the Initiative issue? (Like that wouldn't get posted somewhere...)

It's an idea with pros and cons, and there very likely are just as many valid reasons not to do it. That said, I don't think Marvel would, anyway. Even with blogs and Q & A's at Newsarama or Comic Book Resources; Marvel as a whole seems more...stand-offish in recent years. I don't know. Marvel seems to want their comics to be like little movies, and anything like editorial caption boxes or cut-and-paste corrections that reminds the reader yes, you are reading a comic; are not particularly welcome.

Before I wrap this up, here's another "Mighty Marvel Correction Kit!" from the letter's page for Thor #354. I'm going to run it in it's entirety, since the letter writer explains the reason for a fix in #351. That's been reprinted, hasn't it? It wasn't corrected in the trade, was it? That would be pretty damn impressive...

And there's a statement of ownership for good measure! Let's see...under E. "Total distribution: (Sum of C and D) Average no. of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 171,480. Single issue nearest to filing date: 241,355." Based on the November 2008 Marvel Month-to-Month sales from the Beat, there wasn't a new issue of Thor that month, but the number one book was Ultimatum #1 with 114,230. Way to go, direct market! Thanks for nothing, you...Am I reading this wrong? Maybe the Thor statement counts international sales or something else not counted in Ultimatum's total. Or maybe sales were driven up back in the day by kids cutting up their comics and cutting and pasting corrections...

Panels and pages from Thor #341, "The Past is a Bucket of Ashes" #342 "The Last Viking" (per the last issue blurb!) and #354 "Pickin' Up the Pieces" All written and drawn by Walter Simonson, letters by John Workman Jr, colors by Christie Scheele, edited by Mark Gruenwald.

Deadpool gives Cap the business in Deadpool #25, "Dead Reckoning, part 3: What the World Needs Now..." Written by Joe Kelly, pencils by Walter McDaniel, inks by Whitney McFarland, Rodney Ramos, Walden Wong, Scott Elmer, and Scott Koblish.

I was going to post a similar correction from Captain America, but I found the one with the error and not the correction. Ironically, I had the one with the correction and not the error as a kid. OK, maybe not so ironically. Some other time, maybe we'll see if I can find #312, which was also the first appearance of Flag-Smasher. Read more!

Why is Cap so glum?

A. Um, because he's dead?

B. Someone stole his rug, and it really brought the whole room together.

C. All the other Avengers are big stinky jerk-heads.


I swear, I thought I had more time today. Even though large portions of my day were spent either staring into space, or looking for toys (short answer: no) I still figured I was going to be able to get a longer post done. Not so much, sorry.

From Captain America #401, "After the Storm" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Rik Levins, and inks by Danny Bulanadi. After a contingent of Avengers under Iron Man break from Cap's orders and kill the Kree Supreme Intelligence (yeah, didn't take) then a majority of Avengers vote against disciplinary action or censure against the killers; Cap is ready to step down as commanding officer. (Commanding officer? I thought they had a chairman, but maybe in times of war.) None of the Avengers really want Cap to quit, but they went to war prepared to maybe have to kill somebody, and Cap didn't. Weird.

Recent continuity has reverted to the position that while he wasn't bloodthirsty or a wetworks specialist, Cap certainly killed during the war and since. In Gruenwald's run, Cap killed maybe once, a last resort action to save innocent hostages. (Around Cap #321, off the top of my head.) Read today, Cap seems more than a bit on the whiny side this issue.

I may have to take some time later to write up a little more on Quasar, who guests briefly, as he tells Cap he's going on a leave of absence from the team. Even though he loves being an Avenger and Cap's his hero, Wendell has to get back to protecting the universe and such. I wish there had been a Quasar action figure, man: I would love to have him interact with Hal Jordan. Quasar was like the anti-Hal: laid back, polite, a team-player. Some other time...

EDIT: OK, I did get some of what I was looking for, so new post around noon PST, all right? Read more!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For comparison purposes: The same guy, only not (but he kinda is)

Here's an interesting one to compare: two different figures, two different companies, two different characters, but the same guy. Huh? Well, the same actor, anyway. Ben Browder has a batch of credits on IMDB, but the one we're interested in to start with is Farscape. You know, I think I got this figure, astronaut John Crichton, marked down perhaps, before I ever got to watch the show. It was a program I knew I'd like, but I didn't have cable at the time. Space adventure with Jim Henson studio puppets? Oh, that doesn't push any of my buttons...Eventually I got to watch the show, and loved it, just in time for it's horrible cliffhanger ending. Eventually, Farscape got a miniseries that wrapped up all the loose ends, and that was pretty much that.
OK, John came with a better gun than these.

Almost immediately, (or so it seemed) Farscape's leads Browder and Claudia Black were rotated into the cast of Stargate: SG-1. Although many wits (including Warren Ellis, I believe) suggested Browder needed to fire his agent, he (and Black) did get another action figure out of the deal--two in two different lines from two different properties. 'Wait, don't I need air?'(Hell, Black got a variant in there as well...) Browder took the role of Lt. Colonel Cam Mitchell. (Cam probably gets a promotion at some point during the series.)

Over at OAFE there is a helpful review (and recap of the show and it's tribulations) of the Farscape box set from Toy Vault. I got John as a single, although he did come with his helmet, jacket, a rifle and a couple DRD's. (Little robot helpers, if you didn't watch the show!) As usual for this scale, the jacket seems overly thick--less a regular jacket than an arctic one, and the collar is going to stay up. Still, the jacket covers the lack of elbow joints. Quickly: John has cut joints at the neck, waist, shoulders, and wrists. Six points. Also, being the token human character, John is probably not going to run you on eBay like D'Argo or Rygel will.

Diamond Select/Art Asylum's SG-1 Col. Mitchell has the benefit of several years of improvements in sculpting and articulation, and has a ball-jointed neck and shoulders, cut joints for the biceps, waist, knees, and wrists; and both elbows and hips. Better sculpting, or furrowed brow in worry over his career?Say fourteen points of articulation. Cam doesn't do too badly in terms of accessories, either: machine gun (that's tough for him to hold!), a zzaat pistol, a removable vest, a build-an-accessory piece (for the DHD or the mount, I guess: other waves had Stargate pieces), a radio, another accessory I can't name, and a sword that I guarantee you is probably bent to hell when you buy this figure. Still, a nice haul. I liked Stargate, but I didn't watch it religiously, so some of those accessories I'm fuzzy on.

It's doubtful Browder's picking his next role with action figures in mind, but that's for the best: I'm hard pressed to think of another series that could slot him in, and new properties don't seem to get new figures as a given anymore. Read more!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Timing, part twenty.

Now, I think Deadpool could beat Crossbones, but it would take him a while, and there would be some stabbing involved. And now I'm not positive, but I think CB's been enhanced somehow, so he might even be stronger than he looks, and he looks pretty strong. Still, in case I haven't mentioned it, Crossbones is my favorite villain of Mark Gruenwald's long run on Captain America, just beating out Flag-Smasher. (The original, caped one, with ULTIMATUM and all that.) I also really wanted to get across that Cross is slumming it here: to him, working for MODOK would be the equivalent of a Mcjob. Maybe if I did more than one draft of these things...

Of course, I say that, but then had to redo the first page today, since I forgot a word balloon. In ye olden times, a correction for something like that might turn up on the letter pages a couple issues later--I remember Thor doing that once or twice, like the Secret Wars panel. Captain America had an issue where in a close-up panel of Cap, he had no nose! The editor said it was a problem with the then-new flexographic (I think) printing, and they had a cut-and-paste stat of Cap's nose for readers to do themselves. I might have to dig those up...

Still, I thought Pool deserved to get one in, since Crossbones is successful and has a great rep; while the last issue I read as of writing this, poor Deadpool didn't even have a chair anymore...Which brings up another point, that probably on the stands by the time I post this: Deadpool fights old Sub-Mariner villain Tiger Shark in his next issue (#6), and Tiger Shark's another favorite of mine. I didn't like the overly shark-like version Mark Bagley drew in Thunderbolts, I like the old school version. And it is a crime Tiger Shark doesn't have an action figure yet.

For newer readers of Deadpool, a tip: he's not lying. Pool beat an alien-controlled Captain America, and I might see if I can dig up the panel. Possibly Wade's finest hour. Not Cap's, though. Read more!

Friday, January 23, 2009

(Mostly) Off-Topic: Further proof of the Happenstance method:

Per my Statcounter info, someone stumbled across my blog while searching "rhino bar and howard apartments building history missoula." Now, of course, I have no helpful information in that regard, and my blog only came up because the keywords Rhino (Scarface's henchman), Howard (for Howard Chaykin) and Missoula since I used to live there. In fact, the weird thing is, I briefly lived in those apartments! Random Happenstance indeed. I probably drank at least occasionally at the Rhino Bar, but I don't recall it as a favorite, but I drank too goddamn much back then...

Out for the weekend, though, so have fun, and be back Monday! Read more!

Your Happenstance panel for today:

The Transformers like to watch, I guess...
From Unlimited Access #1, "No Time Like the Present!" Written by Karl Kesel, pencils by Pat Oliffe, inks by Al Williamson. It's a fun enough little series, although you kind of wish they'd drop the Access character and the Amalgamations like Redwing, Thor-El, and Captain America Jr; to focus on the weird face-offs. Why hasn't there been a Challengers of the Unknown/Fin Fang Foom prestige format book? Because Marvel and DC hate the laughter of children, that's why.

Admittedly, some of those fights are based more on temporal convenience, than weight class: Enemy Ace against Phantom Eagle would be a quick one, with the rest of the issue given to the Ace hanging out with the wolves. I'd have to say the odds are strongly against Anthro, facing Devil Dinosaur; and Atlas versus Hercules shouldn't be much of a battle: Marvel Herc over DC Atlas in a walk. And the Two-Gun Kid would be well advised to ride clear of Jonah Hex.

A heads-up for Brandon Dwayne, "the canoe guy" (EDIT: Son of a bitch! Sorry about that!) over at Matching Dragoons: Jonah adds one to his lifetime body count this issue. Of course, then Access tries to save him from being shot in the back and loses Jonah in time, and possibly out of his own universe. (Wait, was the DC Universe the red giant or the blue one? Ah, well.) Even with a lot of time-travel and accidental crossovers the rest of this limited, they never come back to Jonah, nor it is specifically noted that he was put back where he belongs either. Then again, since Marvel and DC are currently not best buds, it's doubtful this one'll ever come up again. Read more!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Timing, part nineteen.

Yeah, no way Nightcrawler could beat Deathstroke in a fair fight. Cheating, however...

I was looking for my reprint copy of X-Men/Teen Titans, but hadn't found it yet. I know I read someone's copy when it first came out, though, and was more interested then (and now) in the X-Men. Of course, it's not my favorite Marvel/DC crossover: unless another one springs to mind and beats it, my favorite is probably John Byrne's Batman/Captain America, just beating out JLA/Avengers. (Byrne's Galactus/Darkseid one is pretty good, too.) Read more!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Big-game hunter" was just behind "test pilot" and "millionaire layabout" for secret identities back then...

Even though I can remember when Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom was on TV, I'm not old enough to remember when "Big-game hunter" was an A-list dream occupation for little kids, but comics do. Even if said hunters rarely came to a good end. I mean, Kraven's probably the best known example, and he got bored with wrestling lions, became a super-villain, and killed himself. The Paul Kirk Manhunter as well: bored with hunting, trampled, cloned, killed some more. And then there's this guy, from "I Hunted the World's Wildest Animals!" I do this about once a year, but here's the full story, so click to enlarge! Pay attention, there will be a test!

If "Cage 'em Alive" Burke never had to shoot an animal, why did he carry a pistol?
A. Insurance
B. To shoot in the air as a distress signal
C. Poachers
D. Groupies

According to this story, what skills are mandatory for big-game hunters?
A. Woodwork
B. Archeology and translation
C. Asbestos handling
D. All of the above and then some

Why would a big-game hunter have, or need, a gas mask?
A. Because they're cool
B. Big Golden Age Sandman fan
C. Insert fart joke here
D. The question is, why wouldn't he need a gas mask?

All right then, smarty, what good would an asbestos suit do in a jungle fire? Unless you're also hauling an oxygen tank, you'd still die of smoke inhalation! How much crap are you going to haul on safari, anyway?
A. Closed-casket funeral; tons
B. Organ donor; more than you, nancy
C. Oxygen's for sissies; what aren't I going to take?
D. All of the above

Pretty sure I saw this story as the plot of a Sci-Fi Channel "Original" movie. Coincidence, theft, or homage?
A. Coincidence
B. Theft, but it was an old story before this
C. Sure as hell not a homage, no one read this
D. It's the plot of every Sci-Fi Channel original movie.

What the hell comic is this from?
A. My coverless copy of DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #4.
B. Or, it's originally from the May/June 1957 issue of My Greatest Adventure #15, with art by Nick Cardy.
C. It was also reprinted in something called "Big Boy #17" from Artima in 1958.
D. Not a question, but damn, the GCD is awesome. Read more!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For comparison purposes: can you believe I have two Judge Deaths?

Why good posture is important.
Need? Maybe not so much. But I have 'em!

Although I'm glad they made the effort, I don't know what Re:Action Toys (the smaller Death, from their 2000 AD line) or Toy Biz (the larger, from their Legendary Heroes second series) were thinking. Yes, Judge Death is a coolass looking monster. Yes, making figures based on action-packed British comics probably are an easier sale than say, action figures of the comics heroes of Belgium. But the fact is, kids in America? Figure ten out of ten of 'em have no drokking idea who Judge Dredd is, let alone Death. You would scarcely believe, what a colossal pain in the ass setting up this one picture was.

Which is probably why I'm positive I paid a combined $6.33 for these two. The older Death was marked down at KB Toys when there was still one around; the newer from Wal-Mart. I could've even made it three for three: I passed on the clear, ghosty version from Toy Biz. That version shipped with the first wave of figures, and both TB versions came with the build-a-figure piece for Monkeyman, a big ape leg.
Just in passing, I love Judge Anderson.
(Panels reprinted in Quality's 2000 AD Presents #6: Judge Anderson, story by John Wagner and Alan Grant, art by Robin Smith and Cliff Robinson.)
That helmet has to be like looking through a picket fence all day.

Based on the art here, the Toy Biz version actually seems more on-model, at least as far as the costume details. For the Re:Action version, though, Death was often pictured with huge hands, making him a hit with the ladies...however, R:A Death has no articulation beneath the waist. Ouch. Perhaps in compensation, he came with a human heart and a bomb. Look, Judge Death may seem like a hands-on kind of killer, but he's really more about getting the job done.

So TB Death easily wins the articulation contest, except for one point: R:A Death has an articulated jaw, and that gives him a touch more personality. Not pictured: Death's lovely singing voice. Either because of that, or his age, or the fact no one remembers Re:Action Toys, I only found one on eBay; TB Death is plentiful and cheap. Sadly, Toy Biz's Legendary Heroes line never got their third wave out, which may have included Dredd villain Mean Machine Angel. I blame their failure on planning a figure for Aphrodite IX. I don't care if she is a hot robot chick in a short skirt, and no one else did either. I don't think anything with the Aphrodite IX name has ever been successful, from comics to alleged anime to toys... Read more!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Timing, part eighteen.

A short one today, so I might see if I can dredge something else up for later. And I'm aware of the new Marvel 3 3/4'' figures, but...I really don't want to go back to that scale, even though, as Pool points out, they would be able to use more vehicles and accessories. Well, maybe I'll hold out until either Deadpool or Nightcrawler get their figures: Pool probably won't be long, since he'll be getting more of a push with the Wolverine: Origins movie, but poor Kurt has the disadvantage of needing additional tooling. (For non-toy fans: Deadpool is almost a repaint of a Spider-Man mold, but Nightcrawler would need new hands, feet, and his tail sculpted.) Reckon Nightcrawler will turn up in a Giant Sized X-Men #1 box set, something Toy Biz also did back in the day.

Read more!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Why hasn't this Thing gotten an action figure?

Moments before, Doom hints that he hasn't really been seen since 'the battle of the Baxter Building,' as Ben puts it, 'a zillion years ago!'
From Fantastic Four #350, "The More Things Change, or it's the real Thing..." Written and pencilled by Walt Simonson, inks by Allen Milgrom. This issue also wrapped up the Kristoff/Doom war that had been running for years by then, and gave Doom a great redesign that was never seen again.

Ben first mutated into this version of the Thing in Fantastic Four #310 in 1988. Steve Englehart's version of the Four had Ms. Marvel (who mutated into the She-Thing in the same issue) and Crystal taking the spots of the semi-retired Reed and Sue. It didn't really take, and Ben would be turned into a human again for a while there, as we saw the other day.

Like I've said before, sometimes I can go long stretches without reading Fantastic Four, so I wonder: was this the last time Ben was turned into the armadillo-style Thing? And, did no one like it, at all, ever? In the review of the much-maligned First Appearance Thing figure over at, yo points out "It's not like they [then, Toy Biz] can make Tiger Stripe Thing or Weapon X Thing, you know? Thing's Thing. That's it." Hmm, maybe. But I can't recall anything made of this version of the Thing. No action figures, definitely. As near as I can tell, not even a Heroclix or a Bowen bust, and Bowen's made busts of Machine Man and the Jackal, so that tells us something. I don't personally have the First Appearance Thing, but I have three other Legends versions: the initial one, the initial one with the trench coat, and the one with the different head from the FF box set. All Toy Biz, although Hasbro has made a couple more since.

Over at Comics Oughta Be Fun! Bully has started 365 Days with Ben Grimm, which is a daunting task but a noble one. How many armadillo-Things do you think we'll see? Um, two or three would be fine, yeah: Walt Simonson brought it out for a second before the end of his all-too-brief run--in the end, Ben simply reverts to his "normal" Thing form, noting someone upstairs prefers him that way. I'm guessing, but I think Keith Pollard was the artist in those first new look issues; and Jeff Purves got to draw a very different Hulk vs. Thing battle: The Grey Hulk versus the stronger new Thing. Still, there's no telling: Bully may go for armadillo month, for all we know. Read more!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Timing, part seventeen.

If you were expecting more from a Deadpool/Deathstroke fight, might I direct you to Fanwank!, where Pete nailed the hell out of that one earlier. But the little Deadpool coming at you would just be creepy as all hell, and his weird four-sausage-fingered hands on you? Ugh.

Pool first used the molecular compressor in "Date Night, part two" and bought it from MODOK in "Like the opposite of a moped..." So, I've had some of this story in mind for a while, and it's probably going to go a while longer.

"Ellis-Fu" is a bit of snark referring to the Midnighter, from Warren Ellis' run on Stormwatch and the Authority. When he was introduced, it wasn't just, "Look! Gay Batman!" Midnighter was a genuinely scary bastard, with a head crammed full of "enhancements" that enabled him to play out a fight, every possible move from every angle, before it even began. Sort of the same way a chess computer could plot a hundred moves ahead after your first, the better for crushing you.

I always sort of figured Midnighter was cranky because his "power" was on all the time. He probably couldn't have a conversation with his own teammates without a constant possible series of punches, kicks, and chokeholds running through his head. At any rate, it was such a good idea, I think it's been swiped. A lot. Read more!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A quick thought on Final Crisis #6:

(From someone who's not really reading it!)
Seriously, if Batman's gonna go the spacegun route, at least slap the Batlogo on there somewhere...
Little known fact:  Orion had huge feet.  Huge.
Yeah, I didn't buy Final Crisis #6, sorry. I was hoping to get the new issue of that Super Friends book--the cover where everyone dresses up like Batman--but they were sold out. Drag.

I don't know if I would've hated Final Crisis #6 as much as Val over at Occasional Superheroine seemed to, but she did set up the link to the pages in question. Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, so don't click over, or read further if you're waiting to read it.

Man, if Batman's going to make a "once in a lifetime exception," I thought he'd use a plain old Earth gun. Maybe a nice revolver, or the gun that killed his parents or something. I think the idea of Batman taking the role of Orion in the New Gods was one that Morrison had pitched for this thing, but editorial made him dial it back. Come to think of it, in Superman/Batman I'm pretty sure there were some issues where Bats joyrides around in Orion's harness and makes time with Orion's girl, maybe a test run at the job.

In the interests of accuracy, I was hoping to find my reprints of Kirby's New Gods so I could nail the dialog on the "right" panel, but instead I found the third issue of Johnny Dynamite. Oh, man, I had the other three of them out and had been wanting to read that again for ever. Anyway, even though Batman's bit here was kind of cool, it might have been cooler if it had happened in goddamn Batman: R.I.P. Even with the stuff that sounds interesting like motherlovin' Tawky Tawny fighting Kalibak to the death, there's eight or nine things that just make my brain numb, like the Metron Rubik's Cube or Planet OMAC or the Tattooed Man or Anthro...

So, not reading Final Crisis, but Batman channeling the fallen spirit of Orion and wearing his harness, while he battles Darkseid for the final fate of the Earth? That would have been cooler, and more like Batman, than shooting him, even with Darkseid's own bullet.

This is the DCUC Batman, and a DC Direct Darkseid from the box set with Orion. And that Orion lent Bats the harness. The old DCD Orion had a removable helmet, and interchangeable heads, and the DCUC version crushes him, we'll compare them sometime...

New "Timing" strip Thursday at noon! Read more!

It was a short fight; that's why I forgot it. Yeah...

Crossbones uses a table as Cap's shield, even including a bank shot. When I put together my homemade strips, best case scenario I work off of "selective continuity." Crossbones, Deathstroke, and Bullseye seemed like a perfectly reasonable teaming of mercenaries; even if Deathstroke's from DC and the rest from Marvel. But, I had forgotten about this fight: from Streets of Poison (again!) Bullseye vs. Crossbones. Back in this one, Bullseye seemed much less likely to want to fight hand-to-hand, which is why I think it's odd to see him do so now, like the recent Moon Knight fight. (From Captain America #377, "The 100% Solution" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Danny Bulanadi.)

I mention this because it's something I bitch about when other writers do it in real comics. Take for example, the Inhumans. They're characters with a certain fan base, and creators like the Inhumans--well, they like the Lee/Kirby Inhumans. Maybe a couple of the old Byrne issues, or the Jenkins/Lee limited. Other than that, every other Inhumans story? May as well not exist. Every appearance of the Inhumans seems to have, at best, a tangential relationship to the one before. That may stem from the fact that they were usually used as guest-stars, and only the most hardcore of fans (or random chance) is going to keep track of Black Bolt and company's appearances in Silver Surfer or New Warriors.
Being viceroy, or whatever, to the Inhumans is like being Number Two on the Prisoner: a one-shot gig. Usually.
From Inhumans #3, "Ghost in the Machine" Written by Paul Jenkins, art by Jae Lee. Reprinted in Marvel Knights Magazine #6.

(Did the Inhumans ever appear in ROM? Just about everyone else did, but I don't know if ROM hit Attilan in his world tour. Also, it always bugged me that the Ladronn Inhumans mini of a few years back wasn't "in continuity," but it wrote out almost of the citizen, rank-and-file Inhumans; leaving a royal family with no subjects.)

Man-Bat would fall into the same boat. Everybody likes Man-Bat. (Everyone should, anyway...) But is Dr. Kirk Langstrom a troubled genius striving for acceptance? Was he deaf before taking his bat-formula? Was Kirk a private detective? A research scientist? A museum curator? Is he an environmental psychotic trying to replace humanity with bat-hybrids? Do his wife and children still have bat-traits, and are they even alive? Can he control his transformation? When he transforms, is Kirk in control, or is he a mindless beast, or something else entirely?
Bolton's art is so good here, I would read this every so often anyway.
I don't think Jamie Delano and John Bolton's Man-Bat (art here from issue #3) is in continuity, as it's an Elseworlds book; but aspects of it seem to have bled into the DCU version. (Also, the Batman in this, is a colossal dick. I just had to look if Delano had worked on Judge Dredd, since his Batman seems to be of the same stripe.) Some would say, if it's in service to a good story, the continuity doesn't matter; and they would have a point. But if you remembered his first series, or his Brave and the Bold appearances where he tried to one-up Batman; this new Man-Bat would be disturbing and wrong. Which in this case works: Man-Bat here is supposed to be alien and terrifying, while retaining remnants of his family man roots.

So, in a nutshell, there's your pros and cons to continuity: it's great, except when it isn't, so you can pick and choose, but rarely does everyone agree on what to keep and what to toss. There's still a few fans of the Spider-Clone out there, you know.

Not me though. Well, not really... Read more!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cover your shame, Danny!

Yes, this never happens.
Just as the first Marvel Team-Up issue I read with him made Yellowjacket cool forever, the first MTU issue I saw with Iron Fist cemented my opinion of him: he wasn't at full strength and got beat down by Steel Serpent. Pretty sure that was a Claremont/Byrne issue.

Similarly to that one, Iron Fist #1, "Into the Fold" (written by Dan Jurgens, pencils by Jackson Guice, finishes by Scott Koblish) opens with Fist not at his full fighting power. Which seems to happen quite a bit, but that's less a blemish on Danny than a testament to how hard it is to maintain his technique. Also, it's because at full power Danny could probably punch a Grand Canyon sized hole into just about anything. From a writing standpoint I figure it's easier and more fun to handicap the Iron Fist at least a little, and make him have to work harder.

I seem to find the issues where Fist ends up with egg on his face more easily, which is too bad. Anyway, the rest of this series features recurring Iron Fist bad guys Scimitar (lazy!) and evil plants the H'ylthri, in a scheme that involves blackmailing Fist into stealing the Scorpio Key from S.H.I.E.L.D. It also refers back to Iron Fist #5 from who knows when in the seventies, and Danny's little known and perhaps not real sister. Oh, and Wisconsinite super-villain Sidewinder is killed in the first issue, which is a bit of a waste: he's jobbed out to show how tough stealing the Key is going to be for Fist. (Actually, it's a scab Sidewinder, the original having retired and passed on his gear. The original, Seth Voelker, was from Wisconsin like his co-creator Mark Gruenwald. Man alive, I would love to be able to create some super-villains from my home state. Y'know, that were neither cowboys nor indians, and didn't have "Montana" in their name...) Read more!

For Comparison Purposes: this one's for the ladies...

...and fans of ritual scarification and/or vinyl clothing. Here's the 1997 version of Iron Fist.

The date stamped on Fist's foot is 1996, but that may have been for the mold.
Woof, Danny hasn't just been hitting the gym, he's been demolishing it.

If you've been reading Toyfare magazine since about the beginning, you may remember ads for Marvel Gold figures. Now, at the time, Toy Biz was making a goodly number of X-Men and Spider-Man toys, and would often work in other heroes as they could, such as the Wasp figure we saw last week. But there are tons of characters in the Marvel Universe that may not have been popular enough at the time for a mass-market release, but the fans still wanted. The Marvel Gold figures were mostly made from existing molds, with maybe a little new sculpting or an accessory here or there.

We might take a look at the Black Widow figure another time: it was a direct repaint of a Jean Gray figure, with an Avengers leather jacket and widow's sting bracelets; not too bad for its day. I know there was a Tigra figure that was a repainted Black Cat with a tail stuck to, I couldn't say for sure what this Iron Fist originally was, since my first instinct would be to say he's a repainted Spider-Man, but that chest does seem a little too buff for that.

A lot of collectors don't care for cloth accessories on figures in this scale, and this may be an example as to why: it's an interesting idea, and possibly a cost-saving measure compared to sculpting a new torso with Iron Fist's trademark huge collar. You can see, just a little, where the black paint around his eyes comes through the yellow, and he doesn't have the mask-tie, but E for effort. Fist also came with a couple "fist of iron" translucent plastic mittens, that I think came with a Ryu figure in Marvel vs. Capcom. Maybe.

To give his legs a little attention, Iron Fist has a really strong paint wash, which may not have been very common at the time. It's especially noticeable in the um, assocological region. There's also visible and unpainted metal pins in the knees.

Although I'm not a huge fan, I did get Iron Fist's Marvel Legends figure from 2006; and he's popular enough now that he's going to be one of the first in the 3 3/4'' scale toys coming soon. (With his more recent costume, also ditching the collar, and you can argue whether that's cost-cutting or a concession to fashion.)

Another year, another Take Your Absurdly Muscular Child to Work Day.

Iron Fist was supposedly killed in Power Man and Iron Fist #125 in 1986. Although it may not have been planned, he would be left dead until 1992's Namor the Sub-Mariner #22. It would be a confusing return involving a fakeout with the Super-Skrull (in previous issues), plantman duplicates, and cancer. There would be three more tries at his own limited or ongoing series, a limited with Wolverine, and a stint with Heroes for Hire, until Fist finally struck gold with 2007's Immortal Iron Fist. Now he's had a stint disguised as Daredevil and with the New Avengers, so perseverance seems to have worked out. Read more!