Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hey, not a review! Shocker Toys Maxx and NECA Army of Darkness Medieval Ash!

Although they are both beloved nerd properties, these two figures have nothing in common...save I bought them both on Black Friday, both come with alternate heads I probably won't use, and both figures had loose accessories in their bubbles.

OAFE had a pretty good write-up on the Maxx, pointing out that while the character and the comics were from Sam Keith; the animated series and hence the figure are from MTV. Which I'm going to let slide, much as that's a bit of stomping on the creator's rights; because the Oddities animated version has a proper ending that I'm not sure the comic ever did.
The Maxx almost had a little trouble from the start: his arm fell off in the packaging, but luckily popped right back on. And I rather prefer the plain, non-feathered headdress head, but it had a couple dings on the front teeth. Still, he's a good looking figure; stout, very poseable, and the Maxx looks like he lumbered right off a comic page...or off the DVD, or whatever, I guess.

As usual, OAFE had a proper review for Army of Darkness's Medieval Ash, and it is also a good looking figure. Although, I hadn't realized this was a re-release, and the original version came with a base, that Ash could kinda use: there's no leg articulation, except cut ankles.

I still think I like this version more than the S-Mart Ash, although, as OAFE mentions, he is sculpted looking to his right, no matter what you do with him. Still, in the right situation, it looks good.

It's right behind me, isn't it?
Medieval Ash comes with a shotgun (that was no worse for wear for being loose in the package) a Necronomicon, and an alternate head. The alternate is Ash's face getting sucked into the vortex, which I wouldn't usually use for display. No chainsaw, though, which is a mild disappointment, but Medieval Ash was only $9.99, so some leeway can be given there.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Admittedly, kind of a dick choice for the week after Thanksgiving.

Brian Bolland on cover duty.
Long time readers know I love me the reprints, and why not? They're usually cheaper than new books, they're often available in a variety of formats, and they open the door to a larger world of comics. Reprints of sixties era Superman or Legion of Super-Heroes opened my eyes and helped me put together what was going on in the then-current books, and made me realize I've read only a fraction of the material that's still out there. Hell, I've read an assload of Judge Dredd (for an American) and I don't think I've read a tenth of the series.

The Titan Books/Fleetway Publications collection Judge Dredd vs. the Fatties strings together several strips featuring some of Mega City One's biggest criminal offenders...pound-wise, anyway. As the opener, "The League of Fatties!" explains, over the years many of MC1's citizens turned to gluttony as a hobby, but after the Apocalypse War came food shortages. The skinnier portions of the populace turned on the fatties, while the fatties lamented they were "wasting away." Of course, keep in mind some of the fatties weighed in the neighborhood of a ton--first in pounds, then in metric.

John Wagner and Alan Grant's deadpan narration is a perfect counter-point to the absurd nature of the story. Two sample captions: "The situation escalates when a group of heavyweight citizens march on temporary Justice HQ--the fact that the route is twenty kilometres long can only be put down to bad planning." For his part, Judge Dredd cares about the fatties as much, or as little, as he does the rest of the people: as long as they don't commit crimes, they're not his problem. Of course, some of the fatties do turn to crime, with spectacular results. As in, spectacular failure, since while a stampede of fatties could be deadly, they weren't exactly built for fleeing the scene of a crime.

In the end, for their own protection, the fatties are segregated to their own blocks, under house arrest until they get their weight under 300 KG, about 661 pounds. Wagner and Grant and artist Ron Smith also foresee the talking scale:

Collecting the fattie stories in one volume makes Dredd seem like a particularly harsh physical trainer, but the next episode, "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (with art by Dredd's co-creator, Carlos Ezquerra features one of my favorite cold opens, and while it predates C.S.I. by years, all it needs is a "yyyyyeeeeaaaah!"

The discovery of a one-ton corpse puts Dredd on the trail of illegal eating contests, which seem like they should be a victimless crime. Except for food hording during a famine, illegal gambling, negligent homicide, and a couple of accidental ones. Yeah, forget the victimless part.

A fun little book, and a great way to check out the more humorous side of Judge Dredd comics. That said, I would've loved to get the Judge Dredd vs. the Dark Judges paperback, still a great batch of action stories; or vs. Chopper, the stories that made me realize Dredd wasn't a very sympathetic lead in his own book.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Thanksgiving, be thankful you're not Kamandi:

Anyone else feel weird buying a toy of a little boy in jean shorts?

Not only is he a character I never reckoned we'd see a figure of; but I also enjoy the concept of Kamandi. Possibly more than his actual comics, since I've only read a relatively few of them: the occasional random issue of Kirby's run, an appearance in Justice League Unlimited, and his serial in Wednesday Comics. But the idea, of the last boy on earth, facing armies of talking, cranky animals and other weird crap, is a good one. (I want to say Kirby cheats a little: there are other humans still alive, so presumably other boys; but most of them are slaves, on the level of animals, very much not unlike Planet of the Apes...)

I wish DC had reprinted Kamandi and OMAC when I was a kid: I would've been seven when the last issue came out. But, I would've enjoyed both if there had been an end point somewhere; instead of Kamandi endlessly wandering. And it may be just as well if I don't read the actual comics, since like Planet of the Apes, I think I miss the point entirely. I think the authorial intent was to show the carelessness and cruelty of man, and that mankind needs to treat the planet and their animal brothers with more care; yet the message I always get is, animals are dicks and should be killed and eaten at the earliest convenience. (With the exception of dogs, as man's best friend, they'll be eaten last.) I'd love to write a Kamandi story where he goes back to our present...to beat up PETA. "Don't save the apes! Or the tigers! For the good of humanity!"

I also owed Kamandi for mocking him mercilessly, in one of my favorite strips here, "It's the Great Disaster, Charlie Brown." Deadpool and Nightcrawler visit the post-apocalyptic future, and it goes about as well as you'd expect.

That's it for this week: I'm out for Thanksgiving! Hope you all have fun, and have plenty to be thankful for...
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I have a vague idea, that a lot of the old team-up comics, like DC Comics Presents, Marvel Team-Up, and the Brave and the Bold; used to select characters so their logos could be trademarked. I've sometimes wondered how the characters were selected: if the writers had any input in who they would be writing about, or if they got a list every year or so of who they had to use. Wait, that doesn't necessarily follow, since I'm pretty sure today's guest-star definitely wasn't in any danger of his copyright lapsing...then.

When some thugs get the bright idea of robbing Superman's charity fund while Supes is in space, they don't do themselves any favors by hiding out in Gotham. Unwise...Batman tracks them down easily, and although he could quite easily pummel the hell out of them himself; Superman made Bats promise to call him so he could get in on that. Bats uses an ultrasonic signal, shades of Jimmy Olsen, to summon Supes, who arrives in seconds, but glowing. As Batman watches, Superman disappears, to be replaced by Superboy.

Superboy and Batman make short work of the thugs, and Superboy decides Batman must be on his side, even if he doesn't know how he got there. (Superboy had been with the Legion of Super-Heroes for years, so it's not a stretch for him to show up in a strange time and fall in with the first person he sees in a costume.) Batman introduces himself, but he and young Clark Kent had met before: Clark is dismayed to see an older Bruce Wayne, who should be his age. Bats knows Superman's secret identity, and where he keeps his civilian clothes, in a pouch in his cape. The clothes are those of young Clark Kent, meaning this Superboy isn't a de-aged Superman, he's from the past. In the DC Universe, you have to check this sort of thing, since there's gotta be like a dozen possible explanations to sort through when this happens.

At that time in the DCU, a person couldn't exist twice in the same time period: if you travelled in time to an era you already existed in, one of you would get bounced out. In this case, Superman finds himself in the far-flung year of 1967, in his old bedroom at the Kents' place. Unable to bear seeing his adoptive parents again, Superman tries to get back to 1982, and hits a barrier. Superboy can't get back either, and Batman reasons that the barrier must've been put up by someone.

Before they start working on the case, Batman tips Superboy on how to reduce property damage, by using other powers before smashing through walls. At first, it seems like Batman's control freak nature is coming out, and if left unchecked he'll have the young Superboy in a black mask and cape; but there's a different ulterior motive in play.

Batman and Superboy begin investigating, looking for the manufacturer of the electronic components one would presumably need to put up a time barrier. (Assuming that whoever did this was operating out of Gotham...) Bats gives Superboy some detective tips, and a particularly yellow bellied thug nearly craps himself...over the sight of Superboy. Makes you think Batman may not have had to try too hard to scare that superstitious, cowardly lot...

As Batman puts the pieces together, Superboy makes a search of Gotham City. He takes a quick peek back home with his x-ray vision, only to find the graves of the Kents. (Batman's tips and advice to Superboy had been more to keep him from thinking about his parents than anything, since he knows all of Superman's moves from working with him.) Despondent, Superboy wants to quit, crying that even with all his powers, he can't save them. Batman snaps at Superboy, that grief is no excuse. Bucking up, Superboy explains that the only areas he couldn't see were lead-shielded, like labs, and an apartment penthouse. Batman points out that wouldn't need lead shielding...unless the culprit was there.

And he is: longtime DC Comics Presents bad guy Ira Quimby, a.k.a. I.Q. (He first appeared in Mystery in Space #87 as a Hawkman villain, but I think I.Q. had like three appearances in this series.) I.Q.'s deal was, he would gain intelligence from solar radiation; sunlight being good, solar flares being better. Unfortunately, he only ever got smart enough to cause some trouble, and not smart enough to check his math: his time barrier was supposed to send Superman back to the prehistoric past, not 1967.

Batman signals for Superboy, but overeager, he smashes in. I.Q. sighs as he realizes he 'dropped another decimal point somewhere,' but he did have the foresight for a Kryptonite trap. But, the Kryptonite doesn't stop Superboy; and Batman makes short work of I.Q. Superboy, taking Batman's advice, took some of the lead shielding as long underwear. (If you're wondering why Superman doesn't wear that all the time, make yourself a pair, and see how you like them.) He also blocks another solar flare from giving I.Q. any more smarts, and that also knocks out the time barrier.

Saying goodbye to Superboy, Batman explains he won't remember any of this when he gets home, but that he and Superboy made just as good a team as Batman and Superman. A confused Superman (who barely shows his face all issue!) then appears, and Batman offers to explain the whole night.

The bad guy's scheme, and I.Q. at all, don't really matter much in this one. It's all about the interaction between Superboy and Batman: Batman not only knows exactly what Superboy's going to go through, but also how he's going to turn out. I'm glad this story featured a much more gentle Bats than is sometimes seen; told today, a lot of writers probably would have Batman throw his own parents' death in young Clark's face. He's a lot more understanding here, and I'm glad for it. From the Brave and the Bold #192, "You Can Take the Boy out of Smallville..." Written by Mike W. Barr, art by Jim Aparo.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Really nothing secret about Brainy's weakness, yeah.

Star Boy's wondering why he used his powers on the thrown ring...
Wait, I can see Brainiac 5 being the brightest Legionnaire, sure; but "move level-headed then worldly men twice his age"? What, 36? OK, I guess in 1974 men in their thirties were responsible and steadfast; but nowadays we can be aimless and immature and lazy. Ah, what an age we live in!

Anyway, in this issue, a burned out and exhausted Brainiac 5 quits the Legion of Super-Heroes, to run off with Supergirl. Although he had loved her for years, and although she had feelings for him; Kara had stopped her visits to the future years ago. So, it's kind of a surprise when she shows up on Brainy's vacation. Star Boy tries to talk him out of quitting the Legion, but that's a losing battle.

Perhaps not paying attention where he was going, Brainy and Kara fly straight into a "Zoltron belt" of radiation. The rays would vaporize Brainy...boy, if only he had a force-field belt or something...but Supergirl wraps him in her indestructible cape. Smothering him. No, not really. Kind of miss the old indestructible capes...

When the storm passes, Kara unwraps Brainy, having just arrived to save him: he had left with a Supergirl android, that he built. The android tried to save him, but her synthetic cape and circuits couldn't survive the radiation either. Brainy had been building her in his sleep, to fill the void in his life left by Supergirl.
There is nothing about this that's uncomfortable.  Except everything.
Supergirl, conveniently enough, had just returned to the 30th century, to explain herself. At the time, Kara wasn't even sure she wanted to be Supergirl; and couldn't handle being a part-time Legionnaire like her cousin. Still, she gives Brainiac 5 a pretty good kiss goodbye.

From Superboy (starring the Legion of Super-Heroes) #204, "Brainiac 5's Secret Weakness!" Story by Cary Bates, art by Mike Grell.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Have I done one of these lazy hodgepodge Friday posts in a while? Feels like I haven't, and I have to get next week's strip ready, and at least two weeks of Bastards of the Universe. New BotU strips go up at Poe Ghostal's Points of Articulation every so often...I really oughta ask Poe if he wants to do a regular day for 'em, but then again I kinda like them slotted in as needed. If you don't go there all the time anyway, you should.

For example, Poe just posted that Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics schedule changed: Vikor has moved up to January. Now, I haven't bought a single one of the updated Masters figures, but I really wanted Vikor, since he's basically Conan. For some, Vikor looks more Conan than the Conan I use, the ToyBiz Legendary Heroes version.

I had the bright idea of taking the day off (which I didn't get, another flaw in my plan) to order Vikor, which would be something in itself; since Mattel's website is...'reviled' may be too strong. There have been problems, we'll say. So, I kinda have a vague idea how it works, but it would be informative to see how well a newbie can get a figure.

More after the break!

Got Howard Chaykin's Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money the other day, and of course, it's great. Where it fits in Batman continuity...ah, who cares?

Then I took an afternoon to re-read an old favorite, that I'm not positive how I got, since it's dated from before my birth: Sir MacHinery, from Tom McGowen. I don't know why I look these up on Amazon, since the prices were a bit surprising. Also, I figured it would've been reprinted at some point in the last forty years.

When ancient demons begin to return, a band of brownies need a brave knight to free Merlin to help them. But in the modern world, knights are hard to come by. In a Scottish castle, they find what they think is a tiny knight, but is instead the life's work of an American inventor: a robot, the first of his kind. Misreading a packing crate, the brownies give him his name: Sir MacHinery.

It's a kids' book, but well written, and charming. And if you've been reading comics for a while, if you read Kurt Busiek and George Perez's first few issues of Avengers, when the heroes were stuck in Morgan le Fey's medieval fantasy, Machine Man's name became, you guessed it, Sir MacHinery. I'd bet a quarter Busiek read that as a kid. Man, it probably should've been an animated film at some point, too; especially since I'd love to have a MacHinery figure.

Topless Robot had a linkup to a Tron/Willy Wonka mashup, but I liked this one better.

Yeah, I enjoyed that entirely too much. Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hey, a review! S.T.O.P. vs. S.C.U.M!

I wrote this for Articulated Discussion a while back; then yesterday I saw knockoff Transformers in the grocery store and thought of it again. Christmas is coming, and while it's always good to give toys, if you can cough up the extra green, don't get the knockoffs, bootlegs, or pirated figures...like today's figures!

Some years ago, I was in a dollar store and saw a terrible, almost-melted knockoff action figure. It wasn't the real draw, though: it's package proclaimed him as "World's Greatest Terrorist." Man, I wish I'd bought that thing.

So, when I saw today's figures in the dollar store, I wasn't going to make the same mistake in missing out...well, "missing out" is a bit strong, there; and I'm pretty sure I don't have to worry about that. Today, we've got...I don't know who made these. Greenbrier Distributing? Homieshop? Look, it's not worth the thought I'm giving it: S.T.O.P. vs. S.C.U.M.'s Lady Lead and Skull Hawk.

I guess the theory is kids love acronyms. I'll scan the backs, since I'm not typing all that backstory. But they at least sprung for knockoff filecards and the five figures on the back change depending on which one you bought. The packaging is...functional; in that it keeps the figures from lying there in a pile. And, it's not airtight, so any toxic fumes probably dissipated on the ride here from China! That's a plus!

Ohmygod, I'm at the point in this where I have to open these. Worse, since I bought them full price, I have to score them?

Sculpt: I've been playing with some sculpey lately, and have realized I can not sculpt for anything. So, there should be some points for getting a humanoid shape with recognizable gun-things. 1! This is the bottom of the barrel. Lady Lead's sculpt is particularly horrifying, though. Reminds me of a character from the Road Warrior, and I sure as fun don't mean Virginia Hey...Also, both figures' weapons are sculpted into their hands, so no accessories.

Paint: Oh, god, why did I sniff it when I opened the package! There was a skunky wiff, but not the eyewatering toxic discharge you sometimes get with dollar store toys. As far as the paint on the actual figures...I think that was the best Skull Hawk on the pegs, which incidentally aren't open-hooked, so I had to take a bunch off the peg entirely, which exposed me to more public scrutiny then I would expect at a dollar store. There are a couple of halfway decent tampos, tattoos on both figures; and it's not like the paint was gonna improve these things. The guns on LL are the worst. 2.

Articulation: A bit of a crapshoot here, since the plastic is a little soft and has a bit of give, which makes the joints seem more joint-like than they actually are. They actually tried to make swivel-hinges for the elbows, though! Between the paint and the plastic, you may or may not be able to move them, but it's definitely an E for effort. "Lady" Lead's hips are incredibly loose--that's not a joke. I got her to stand up once and called it good. 2.

Fun: Aside from harshing on them here? Not a lot of fun. If you've got a ton--and I mean a ton of Dreadnoks or something, and you want some background figures for them...these would still be a poor choice. And I'm not going to recommend breathing in the fumes for fun, either. 1.

Value: Well, Lady Lead and Skull Hawk were a dollar a piece...but a dollar for crap still isn't a value. Hell, earlier this year I got movie Joes for .88 a pop! It's a 1!
why do i have this twice?

Overall: 7. I don't even remember if that was out of 25, 50, or 100, but even so. This has gotta be the worst thing ever here. But, if you pick up one for comparison purposes, it'll make you appreciate that Star Wars or Marvel or G.I. Joe or whatever figure that cost $9.99. Man, Is it Fun? made this look easy when they did the Corps! figures...I think I need to open a window, get some air, and leave this to the pros at The Undiscovered Playthings...

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Freshly dead."

The new Chaos War: X-Men features the return of some dead X-Men that you might think of, like Thunderbird and Banshee; but curiously omits some you might expect, like Phoenix, Cable, and Nightcrawler. But, bringing back those characters makes the book all about them, especially Phoenix. On the other hand, the dead X-Men ranks then have to be filled with dead Multiple Man duplicates and a couple of the Stepford Cuckoos.

I kept up on the solicits for Wolverine and his recent trip to hell, on the off-chance he'd run into Nightcrawler there. But the implication is that Kurt would've gone to heaven, from all his old priest stuff. But...Nightcrawler's met Thor, more than once. And has been to Asgard. And if you believe in Thor and Odin (and even if he doesn't revere them, he has to believe in them) and you die in battle, where do you go? Hmm. We'll see where this goes...
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stop doing things in my name, in fact, stop doing anything.

Does the Surfer get crucified a lot, or is that my imagination?
Even though the quarter box is a bit of a misnomer, I got all four issues of Silver Surfer: In Thy Name out of there last week. It's an enjoyable, if slightly depressing little read, that does pretty well with a very Star Trek-style plot. (Take vaguely real-world politics, make them insolvable even with the power of the Federation or the Surfer, add aliens.)

After a chance encounter with some organ pirates, the Surfer meets the flagship of the Collective. They seem nice, a veritable utopia; and they ask the Surfer to check out one of their newer worlds, Brekknis. Brekknis is poor, war torn, plagued by a giant monster, and an unwilling addition to the Collective. They hail the Surfer as a religious herald, and he's unable to persuade them otherwise. (Whenever told to quit it, even directly by the Surfer, they take it as a "test of faith" and press on.) Turns out the Brekknis are zealots, who turn to terrorism in the Surfer's name. Throw in the Collective enslaving a powerful alien and double-crossing the Surfer, and he has to bring in the big guns:
Really like Tan Eng Huat's art on this one. And writer Simon Spurrier has a couple of nice monologues for the Surfer, to the point of he loves life, but good god it sucks sometimes.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

A post about Mark Millar's work, with no swears? Or movie hype? Really?

I was a fan of Mark Millar's for some time, but after the Unfunnies, the end of Wanted, and his hucksterism-level passing Stan Lee proportions; I haven't read Kick-Ass or Superior yet. Still, some of his old stuff still holds up, like today's comic: Superman Adventures #29, "Bride of Bizarro."

There was a stretch during the Azrael-Batman run, where the only way to get a proper Batman story was in the comic based on the animated series. It helped that Mike Parobeck was knocking The Batman Adventures out of the park then; but in the same vein, Millar was ostensibly working in the animated continuity, and still telling the best Superman stories in years. And this issue, he managed it with guest-star Lobo. (I don't mind Lobo, but he's not the first character you think of when you think classic stories.)

Cruising through space, Lobo sees a message written in giant flaming letters on a planet: "ME NEED RIDE HOME" Curious, Lobo checks it out, and meets Bizarro. Superman tricked the imperfect duplicate, making him the "guardian" of the alien creature "Krypto," on this "Bizarro World." Although he was happy with his job, Bizarro wanted companionship. Bizarro...needs women. Specifically, Lois Lane.

Lobo, having met Superman before, knows full well Lois is "Supergeek's main squeeze." Knowing this is going to be a riot, he offers Bizarro a ride home; and to keep Superman out of his way.

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, just about nothing is happening. For a slow news day, Clark is going to cover a local superhero fan club costume contest...until they hear an explosion across town. Millar has a nice bit of narration from Lois, where she tells Jimmy Olsen not to be fooled by Clark's hayseed bit, and that he's a shrewd reporter that could beat them all to the story. (Of course, Clark's ducked out as Superman.) Before they get going, Bizarro grabs Lois.
Obligatory that'll do, pig, reference.

Across town, Lobo gets Superman's attention, but tips his hand too soon about freeing Bizarro. And on their date, Bizarro showers Lois with gifts: a nice tree (in place of flowers), a live pig (as ingredients for a nice dinner) and coal. Lois tries to make a run for it, and the hurt Bizarro plans on making them the same.
Obligatory that'll do, pig, reference.

Lobo offers Superman a chance to end their fight: all he has to do, is light Lobo's cigar with his heat vision. That idea goes over about as well as you'd expect. Supes knocks Lobo into the convention center, then after Lobo is distracted by a ton of Supermen, throws him in the river. Still, Supes knows Lois could be in real danger, and takes off...too late. Bizarro actually gets an Ozymandias moment.

With Lois dead, Superman loses it. Lobo saves Bizarro, mostly just because he's amused that a simpleton like him could be the one to push Superman to kill. Bizarro doesn't understand what all the fuss is about, since the original Lois is just fine, in the "soundproof duplicator machine," so Supes couldn't hear her. Bizarro explains Bizarro-Lois "am duplicate of original Lois, just like Bizarro am copy of Superman, stupid!" Disgusted that everything is headed for a happy ending, Lobo takes off.

Bizarro plans to stay in Metropolis and help Superman, but Lois gives Superman an idea: they introduce Bizarro to the "Superman Emergency Squad," a veritable legion of back-up superheros, in reality the costume contest. Supes tells Bizarro he does know a certain world that's missing a protector, and a certain alien doggie that needs taking care of. Even though he doesn't plan on an immediate marriage, Bizarro is overjoyed to return to Bizarro World, building his imperfect love a place to work, to live, and a circle of friends for her to gripe about him to. That's quite a man, honestly.

From Superman Adventures #29, "Bride of Bizarro" Mark Millar, 'Writarro,' Aluir Amancio, 'pencillarro,' and Terry Austin, 'inkarro.' I have to wonder if Millar could write one like this anymore, but it probably wouldn't get him another movie deal if it did, so...

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Good idea, bad idea:

Most of you who buy new comics probably have a comic shop or two in your neighborhood; just as most of you who pick up toys doubtless have your usual Walmarts and Toys R Us's around. But if you're lucky, you may have a local chain as well. For example, some may get to frequent stores like New England Comics or Newbury Comics, two well-known chains I've never been within three hundred miles of.

I don't mention it very often, but I live up in Washington state...for some reason. And in my neck of the woods, just as in my ancestral homeland of Montana, we have Hastings, which over the years has sold music, video, books, and is currently on a bit of a comics push. I've gotten some pretty nice deals on some used graphic novels, like Hellboy: the Troll Witch and Other Stories, Captain America: Fighting Chance--Denial, and Star Wars: Empire, volume 5. All for under four bucks or less a piece.

The Troll Witch was a surprise, since there were some stories in there I hadn't read, which is always a plus. It's been years since I've read Fighting Chance, although I may have to see if I can wrangle a copy of the second part. And I really enjoyed the Star Wars Allies and Adversaries (you may not even have realized you wanted to read the adventures of BoShek and his epic sideburns, but you do) except for one thing.
Ignore my hand there, there's a security tag on the back cover of the book. Which is fine, especially for the price; and if not having used graphic novels stolen keeps the prices down, then a slightly lumpy back cover is...a small price to pay. But then...

...another one, in the middle of the book, and Princess Leia's face. Oh, bad form, Hastings.

We'll write that one off as a hiccup, especially since I've had no problems with any of the used trades I've picked up there. And if you're not within spitting distance of a Hastings, well, I'm sure you've got a local hook-up that I'd be completely jealous of too.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

This seems familiar somehow...

Familiar, yes, and not just for Superboy One Million's OMAC hairdo, either. (In fact, I was mildly dismayed to realize, I think I own more comics with Superboy One Million, than I do with OMAC.)

Set in the 853rd Century (I believe because, if it stayed on a monthly schedule, Action Comics would hit issue #1,000,000 then) the galaxy is protected by 24 Justice Legions. Justice Legion A is the big guns, the futuristic JLA; Justice Legion Z based on the Super-Pets. Somewhere in the middle, is Justice Legion S, made up of clones of Superboy. With OMAC hair, for some reason.

Even though it would've had to have been undisturbed for 83,000 years, Superboy One Million is looking for the JLA's Fortress of Solitude. When it's pointed out a team can't very well have a headquarters for aloneness, S-Boy admits he could be wrong here. But, he does find something interesting, frozen in the ice...the Guardian. The "real one," although that doesn't necessarily tell you if they mean the original, or one of the first clones of Jim Harper.

Admittedly, I'd rather have a sidekick named Trixie than Bucky. S-Boy's been trying to figure out what happened when Justice Legion A went back to the 20th century, since now it's looking like the JLA's gone rogue. Guardian, however, can't remember; so Millionex (an upgrade version of Dubbilex) uses his "temporal telepathy" to show his memories. At the past's Project: Cadmus, Guardian and new agent Superboy are showing around new scientist Serling Roquette; and Guardian is dismayed to see Dabney Donovan, one of DC's maddest mad scientists, is being kept anywhere near Cadmus. Those concerns are tabled, when they, and most everyone else on the planet, are suddenly infected with the mysterious Hourman virus.

Later, Superboy meets the Superman of the 853rd century, who uses his "super-e.s.p." to show him hints of his future, namely a bunch of things that would happen in upcoming issues. But, with Superman-A pushing forward, and Millionex pushing back, they open a time rift that nearly swallows Superboy. The future Superboy uses the power of the eye (which looks a lot like OMAC's Brother Eye) to feed power to the original, helping him save himself. Millionex can't see what else happened then, but Guardian remembers meeting the future Superman at Cadmus, where he would get the tech to try and fight the Hourman virus. (And in a subplot for future issues, Guardian is pushing against the notion that Cadmus should reveal it's secrets to the world.)

From Superboy #1,000,000, "OMAC: One Million and Counting!" 'Story program and graphic assists' by Karl Kesel, 'graphic template' by Tom Grummett.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"J'onn vs. Jemm."

I can't say I'm sorry to get the new DC Universe Classics Jemm figure, but...I have barely read a comic with him. (Just the one I mentioned the other day!) I remember the ads for Jemm, Son of Saturn from 1984, with Gene Colan art, but haven't read it. The only appearances I'm positive I've read for him, were in Grant Morrison's "Rock of Ages" storyline in JLA. Probably my absolute favorite of Morrison's run on the book, but Jemm isn't really himself there as he's an unwilling member of Lex Luthor's Injustice Gang. (Jemm's only line in the issue may be a 'Guh!' or something, when he gets shot by the Joker.)

After that, Jemm would turn up in John Ostrander's Martian Manhunter series, which I thought I had read more of...but maybe not, since I had to look up Jemm on Wikipedia for more info. (J'onn almost had a thing with Jemm's intended wife, but she ended up having to go through with an arranged marriage.) Still, I think the action figure is neat, since I would've guessed the original plan from Mattel would've been to just repaint Martian Manhunter figures into an easy variant; but Jemm has a lot of differences from J'onn. Like those freaky hands.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

There's still time!

You still have until, I don't know, noon PST on Thursday the 11th, to enter the "Build your own Bastards" contest! Leave a comment with your own Bastards lineup (on the "Homeless Bastards" strip) and one lucky winner will walk away with a loose Marvel Legends Beta Ray Bill, a carded Toy Story 3 Twitch, a carded Conan the Adventurer, and a loose and saddleless Battlecat! And the Warlord #4 I mentioned! Now's good, so enter, and check out Poe's new exclusive while you're there!

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Admittedly, most of this post is just because that panel was so cool:

Love the layout there, you don't see that sort of thing anymore. Soapbox: Comics artists (like Jim Starlin there, or Howard Chaykin, or Walt Simonson, to rattle off a couple) used to do more experimental things that could only be done in comics. Weird layouts, panels in the shape of sound effects, interesting use of panel borders, etc. Even if they didn't always work, comics are the better for them; and I wish they'd come back into vogue: comics as comics, and not just as a storyboard proposal for a movie or an installment plan for trades. End of rant.

And Starlin has to be having a bit of fun, drawing things like Warlock fighting a shark in space. As Him, the character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but you wouldn't be wrong in saying Jim Starlin made Adam Warlock what he is. I'm not a huge fan of the character, but I do enjoy the...glumness of Warlock. He started out completely naive and idealistic, and got crucified for it. Then he tried being a bit more pessimistic and bitter, and that didn't turn out so well either. Warlock is a guy who's good and evil selves both turned out to be colossal douchebags; and now while he still does good, he's emotionally pretty dead.

Thanks to the haphazard nature of my collection, I have a pretty good batch of Warlock, without having any of the originals. These panels were from 1972's 1976's Warlock #14, but I just got it in 1992's reprint Warlock #4. There were Baxter reprints of Warlock in 1982-83; and a good chunk of it was also reprinted in Fantasy Masterpieces as the backup to the classic Lee/Buscema Silver Surfer. "Homecoming!" Story and layout by Starlin, finished art and colors by Steve Leialoha.
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Friday, November 05, 2010

It's an idea both awesome, and stupid,

From Teen Titans/Legion Special #1, "Superboy and the Legion, part two" Written by Mark Waid and Geoff Johns, pencils by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, inks by Mark Campos. Superboy has spent five months with the Legion of Super-Heroes, only this time it's Kon-El, the cloned Superboy (from Reign of the Supermen and on) who's been plucked from time. The Fatal Five's Persuader, using his Atomic Axe, discovers how to slice into alternate realities, and bring alternate Fatal Fives for reinforcements. Now facing the Fatal Five Hundred, Kon-El's old team, the Teen Titans, are brought in to help, and Kon-El has to decide which team he belongs to.

The Fatal Five Hundred is too neat of an idea not to run with, even if it's incredibly stupid. Even if Persuader's Axe could cut into alternate realities with enough precision to find that universe's Fatal Five--let's say by vibrations, because that's how DC usually does that sort of alternate reality thing--why would they be onboard with being this Five's monkeys? (The Wildstorm Star Trek story "All of Me" explores that idea pretty well.)

This would be the last hurrah for the post-Zero Hour Legion: this issue had a preview for the "Threeboot" from Mark Waid and Barry Kitson. I liked their version, but it would only last fifty issues, and they wouldn't be there for a lot of them. Honestly, I haven't read a lot of Legion since: I got fed up with the seemingly arbitrary return to a mostly seventies-version of continuity.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Two things Validus doesn't usually do:

Talk, and squint: the monstrous member of the Fatal Five usually wasn't drawn with any recognizable eyes, and rarely if ever spoke that I recall. Actually, looks like Validus spoke a little early on, then got less articulate as time went on.

From Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #247, "Savage Sanctuary!" Written by Len Wein, art by Joe Staton and Jack Abel. With Element Lad and Colossal Boy captured by Tharok, Validus, and the Emerald Empress; Superboy tries to get backup...and fails. Superboy manages to hold his own until EL and CB can get into the fight, but so do the Five's remaining members, Mano and the Persauder. Unfortunately, it's a completely anti-climactic ending, as the aliens that took in the Five have to reject them, since they're wrecking up the place. Which they might not have had to do, if the Legion hadn't shown up...I don't think you see the Five do anything really evil this issue.

Since it's Legion Election time now, we'll take a quick glance at the rest of this issue, which is billed as "a 247th Anniversary Special!" Wildfire and Brainiac 5 are in a dogfight down to the wire--the story opens with Brainy scowling at Shadow Lass as she votes for him. Before everyone has voted, the voting computer explodes. Brainy accuses Wildfire of sabotage, but Wildfire takes everyone to the old voting computer, which then sinks before anyone can use it.

Later, in the lounge, Brainiac 5 is by the fireplace, which then roars up and nearly burns him. Chameleon Boy suggests holding the election in space, and catches the culprit: Superboy, dicking around with the Legion, in honor of the anniversary of his own induction, which only happened after Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl pranked him with rejection. (You all know the classic Adventure Comics #247 cover, right?) Superboy turned their tricks back on them, which isn't really that funny.

And in the end, even though he nearly came to blows with Wildfire, Brainy has a good laugh when he realizes they both lost. Lightning Lad--the only charter member that hadn't served as leader--finally won. It would've been more of a surprise, if it hadn't been mentioned on the letters page right before the story! From "Celebration!" Written by Paul Levitz, art by Joe Staton and David Hunt.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"Waiting for Validus."

Please tell me everyone in the Legion doesn't say 'frak' now.
So, I'm scheduling this one for three weeks out, to see if I get that Raven figure with the missing Validus leg. And so far, no dice. May just have to eBay the damn thing, and continue my streak of not buying any Teen Titans DC Universe Classics figures. (No Robin, Nightwing, Cyborg, no Starfire or Beast Boy, no Wonder Girl...I guess I got the new Blue Beetle a bit ago, and that's it.)

The Legion of Super Heroes figures there are all from DC Direct: Mattel has a box set coming around the start of the year or something, but I don't know if I'm going to go all in on that.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

In the Legion's future, apparently the ocean's only three feet deep:

According to DC's Wikia, Validus was about 15 feet tall. But that seemed to vary quite a bit, depending on the artists. Here, Validus has just crashed to earth like a meteorite (he couldn't fly) and didn't seem to have waded very far out of the ocean, but seems to be standing easily.

Validus's strength level always seemed a little dicey to me as well: he was powerful enough that it took the combined strength of pre-Crisis Superboy and Mon-El to hold him, but those two were strong enough to move a planet around alone. Perhaps not being able to fly, Validus always needs something to stand on in order to exert his strength; and maybe that's why you never saw those huge feats of strength from him. Or more likely, it was just one of those things that varied as needed depending on the plotline.

This issue: the day before election day on earth, when three computer selected candidates campaign for the Presidency of Earth. (While computer selection may not sound great, a one-day campaign season sounds pretty good!) Colossal Boy is dismayed to realize his mom is one of the candidates, but he (and the rest of the Legion) are about to have bigger fish to fry, as the unseen Dark Man approaches earth, with the Fatal Five paving the way for his arrival. This storyline would be the last for the Fatal Five as a whole, until after the reboot in Zero Hour. From Legion of Super-Heroes#269, "Who Shall Name the Dark Man?" Written by Gerry Conway, art by Jimmy James and Frank Chiaramonte.

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Monday, November 01, 2010

All this week: Validus!

There are probably Legion of Super-Heroes fans who prefer the sprawling Legion of Super-Villains as the team's premier bad guys, but I have to doubt it: the Fatal Five has it all over the LSV. Tharok, half-man, half-cyborg, all criminal. Mano, of the disintegrating hand. The Emerald Empress, and her creepy Emerald Eye of Ekron. The Persuader, wielder of the Atomic Axe. And their big gun, the monstrous Validus.

He's a great design: inhuman and alien, yet he also looks like he's wearing a costume. As strong as the Legion's powerhouses Superboy and Mon-El, and able to shoot lightning from his brain. Oddly, I always remembered Validus as being a screaming, rage-filled monster; but the more of his old appearances I pull up, the more I see him talking occasionally.

In the original Legion continuity, before even the "Five Years Later" era; the Fatal Five fell apart piece by piece: Tharok killed by his clone, the Dark Man. The Emerald Empress died when Sensor Girl blinded the Eye; severing their link, and the Empress aged into dust. And Validus? Well, he was revealed to be the missing son of Legion founders Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl; stolen by Darkseid before he was born, then changed into a monster and sent back through time. Yeah, and that's a relatively straight-forward example of Legion continuity. Thankfully, I think that was later swept under the rug. For now, anyway.

But today's panels are of a more recent vintage, from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's run. New Legionnaire Timber Wolf's second day on the job, and he ends up facing down the entire Fatal Five alone. Attempting to break Tharok out of Takron-Galtros prison, the Five has a good showing, easily defeating Wildfire, XS, Shikari, and Ultra Boy. Or 'Sprock-rod,' since in a reversal of the usual continuity, Timber Wolf and Ultra Boy weren't exactly buds: they were members of rival gangs back on Rimbor, which would've been bad enough, but Wolf also became close friends with his wife, Phantom Girl.

In the end, Timber Wolf's not powerful enough to beat the Five, but by dividing their force, he manages to hold them up long enough for a full team to arrive. A good issue, that sells the badassedness of T-Wolf, without making the Five look any weaker.

From the Legion, "Legion Rookie Blues" and "Five Reasons to Call in Sick" Written by Abnett and Lanning, pencils by Kev Walker, inks by Lanning, Coleby, and Milgrom. I just re-read a fistful of the DnA Legion, and liked it a lot. I liked it more than I liked sorting my Legion comics, anyway.

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