Friday, August 31, 2012

"'Random' testing."

Get used to that, "Speedy." Get used to that...

Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Dark Horse Presents #8!

From February, 2012, Dark Horse Presents #8, featuring stories from Brian Wood, Martin Conaghan, Alan Gordon, Evan Dorkin, and more; with art by Thomas Yeates, Jill Thompson, Jimmy Broxton, Simon Rohrmüller, and more. There was a variant cover for the Massive, but I went with the Duncan Fegredo Hellboy one, which leads right into the opener, "An Unmarked Grave." Tying into both Hellboy and B.P.R.D., with regular writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi; Kate Corrigan investigates Hellboy's disappearance in the ravaged England. Of course, Hellboy died in The Fury #3; but that may not even be the worst news Kate gets...

Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson keep the strong start going with a Beasts of Burden tale, "The View from the Hill." The dogs (and the Orphan, the cat) investigate an unattended flock of sheep, only to discover the flock has a sheepdog, and a secret. It's really good, and although I've only read Beasts a couple times, I wonder if it isn't starting like B.P.R.D.: get to know the characters as they do a bit of demon fighting or ghostbusting, and the series slowly builds to a bigger apocalypse...

There's another chapter of Tony Puryear's Concrete Park, another of Neal Adams' Blood, and the conclusion of this portion of Marked Man from Chaykin. I'm usually not a big fan, but I did like "the Once and Future Tarzan," wherein an older Tarzan is accosted and pulled back into action. I'm also not up enough on the character to recognize the setting, or maybe that's left to be answered--it looked like a sparsely populated future London to me.

The preview for "The Massive" from Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson left me a bit cold, but you can read the entire thing at io9. I preferred the short "Time to Live," a sci-fi done-in-one. The issue wraps up with the dark humor of "The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne" and "Skultar."

We're probably going to keep writing up DHP, since as I type this I'm looking forward to #9 with Lobster Johnson and Paul Pope. But I'm really looking forward to Nexus and Evan Dorkin in the book; if they have those and Mignola stuff, it'll be like the book was made just for me.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Batman Azrael Forever."

While setting this one up, I thought it would be fun if DC made a Batman RPG like Marvel's X-Men Legends or Ultimate Alliance games. Say the player starts with four characters, selected from Batman, Inc; or various Batgirls or Robins, Outsiders, and so on. The game would begin with small street crime, then individual villains, working up to the big organizations like the Court of Owls, the League of Shadows, or Leviathan. (Ah, Leviathan! I forgot that one in the strip!) Wow, there's a lot of big crime in Gotham...and for purposes of the game, you could throw in Kobra, the Secret Six, and more.

The fun thing about a game like that, would be playing with the characters you want. It would be tough to go without a Batman, but I'd love to be able to pick guys like Orpheus, the Knight, the Stephanie Brown Batgirl, or the Creeper.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Ideal Saturday Morning Lineup!

Over at Poe Ghostal's Points of Articulation, Poe had an assignment for the League of Extraordinary Bloggers: create your ideal Saturday morning schedule. He also says he never watched cartoons before 8 AM, which is crazy: I would get up at five if a good cartoon was on. (I also lived in the Mountain Time Zone, which meant things were on at different times than everywhere else.) By that standard, I should add another two hours here; but my runners-up are probably other people's favorites: Super Friends, classic G.I. Joe and Transformers, and the modern ThunderCats--which didn't really have an intro!

This schedule's pretty much just for me, but here goes:

7 AM: Grandizer

7:30 AM: Battle of the Planets

Otherwise known as, gateway drugs to anime.

8 AM: Space Ghost

8:15 AM: The Herculoids
Embedding disabled everywhere, for some reason...

8:30 AM: Jonny Quest

God, I love the intros for the classic Hanna-Barbera action shows. Great music+two seasons worth of explosions in a minute.

9 AM: Thundarr the Barbarian

Possibly the bleakest set-up for a Saturday morning kid's show ever!

9:30 AM: Sam and Max: Freelance Police

My only comedy pick, although I could've been persuaded for the Tick or Tiny Toon Adventures--although I'm terrified the latter may not have aged well. Still, Sam & Max deserved a longer run and more exposure.

10 AM: Legion of Super-Heroes

Another show that deserved better--I'm not sure if it's all on DVD yet.

10:30 AM: Justice League

If you like the Justice League Unlimited opening better, you are wrong. Just so you know.

11 AM: Avengers

Wait, wait, wait: not that one. Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes

That's better.

11:30 AM: X-Men: Evolution

Wolverine and the X-Men might've been a better show, but Evolution wasn't as grim.

What can you tell by my list? I'm both old, and still watch cartoons. That, and I'd watch this lineup every Saturday now.

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Hmm. I had seen mention that the cyborg Coldblood was slated to appear in Iron Man 3, then forgot about it until I stumbled back across this one. From 1989, Marvel Comics #26, featuring Coldblood. "Rise and Shine, part 1: New York" Written by Doug Moench, art by Paul Gulacy.

Since the first chapter, like all MCP chapters, is just eight pages; there's not much room. The titular Coldblood wakes up behind the wheel of his sporty, gun-laden supercar; in the ruins of New York City. Since he doesn't remember anything, his onboard Computer has to bring him up to speed: this issue predates similiar conceits in videogames, but it feels like the first, training level. (And Coldblood and the reader don't know it yet, but it is!)

Moench and Gulacy are pros, so there's a level of craftsmanship; but it's not reinventing the wheel or anything. In fact, Coldblood's interaction with his computer is very much like another Marvel cyborg, Deathlok. After his initial serial, Coldblood would actually show up in Deathlok's comic, although I don't know if anyone commented on how they look like before and after pictures. (Coldblood looks sleek and polished, while Deathlok looks like a corpse that's going bad.)

I wonder if closer to the release of Iron Man 3, Marvel won't release a collection of the 80 or so pages of Coldblood. I probably had all of them at one point, since I think I was reading Marvel Comics Presents for the 25-part Black Panther serial.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm sure Nightcrawler is upside-down in his passport photo...

Both Bleeding Cool and Robot 6 pointed out Neil Rivas's Illegal Superheroes posters; where characters such as Superman, Optimus Prime, the ThunderCats, and Thor are all accused of being illegal immigrants with no legal right to be in the country.

Our pal Nightcrawler joins their company, since he's a German citizen, although a commenter points out the dead don't have an immigration status, which is a bit of a downer. (If he returns to life in the United States' borders, would he then be an American citizen?) I can't recall if it's implied or outright said in the old Claremont days, if Professor X took the time to set up ID's and Visas and whatnot for the new X-Men. And even then, would Nightcrawler get any? It was usually more likely he would be chased with torches and pitchforks than asked for his driver's license.

Oddly, this actually was a plot point once, but not where you might expect: Kurt is caught by England, in the pages of Excalibur #62, "Of Birth, Death And The Confused, Painful Bit In Between" Written and pencilled by Alan Davis, inks and pencils by Mark Farmer.
The covert British agency called the R.C.X. has absorbed both F.I.6 and the Weird Happenings Organization, kidnapped Alistaire Stuart, and has several hundred super-powered operatives. Usually, they wouldn't have much use for the Excalibur team, but some of the operatives' powers have been deteriorating, sometimes fatally. With Stuart as bait, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Cerise are lured into a trap and captured...except Nightcrawler was playing possum. While freeing his friends, the creatures called the Serpents are accidentally released; vicious, deformed monsters that might just be carnivorous.
His powers blocked, Nightcrawler is forced to fight to save Kitty and Cerise; and an already-agitated Kurt stomps the Serpents, beating enough of them to stare down the rest. But, then confronted by "Peter," the head of the R.C.X., Excalibur is accused of trespassing, and all three present members of being illegal aliens.

Kurt looks pretty dumbfounded there, so I kinda think no one ever asked him for his papers before. I don't think Britain was as hostile towards mutants as America at the time, but it is a bit of a double-standard to hound them as monsters, then hound them for documents. Harsh, but a great issue.
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Friday, August 24, 2012

And now, a message from Paul Ryan:

Oh, there is so much wrong on this one. For one thing, this panel isn't from that Paul Ryan. Or that one. And I'm pretty sure Election Day isn't the eighth, unless you plan on voting for that assclown...

Nope, this panel is from the artist Paul Ryan, who may well be a conservative, but drew about a ton of issues of Superman, Fantastic Four; and with writer Mark Gruenwald, Quasar and D.P. 7; so he gets a pass.

I read D.P. 7 from the start, but I really wish I had all the issues together in one place. This issue, the former head of the paranormal Clinic turned power-copying Overshadow, Philip Nolan Voigt, gets his presidential campaign into high gear. He's ahead in the polls, which is surprisingly easy when you have mind-control powers; as he demonstrates by taking over the CIA's paranormal surveillance team.

Only Dave and Randy (or Mastodon and Antibody, if they used their super-hero names) know Voigt is a power-hungry lunatic and are immune to his mind-control. Randy because he's trapped inside one of his Antibodies; and Dave because of a run-in with a paranoid band of psychics who put a 'mental block' in his head to protect their secrecy. (More than once in the series, Dave is invulnerable to mental attack, but he has no idea why.)
I do like Dave punching out the straw campaign hat Voigt gave him.

Unfortunately for them, the CIA's team is made up of their friends Stephanie, Charly, Merriam, and Jenny. As usual, the guys are unwilling to fight their friends, but in a subversion the girls are running full-tilt under Voigt's control, completely unhindered. The mind-control is really matter-of-fact: it's like Voigt simply makes them switch sides. In the end, Voigt tells the beaten guys if he sees them again, he'll make the girls kill themselves. So beat it...and don't forget to vote.

Although Dave calls Voigt a neo-Nazi at one point, and he's the Democratic candidate here; I can't recall exactly what his evil deal was. He's a model for affably evil, and he may have pretended to have been interested in paranormal rights, but I kind of have the feeling Voigt was running for President less because he had the powers and more because he thought he was entitled to the office. A sense of entitlement, that's a good reason to run for office. That doesn't sound like anyone I can think of...

From 1989, D.P. 7 #28, "The Candidate" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Paul Ryan, and inks by Danny Bulanadi.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Invasion, Book Three!

In the last issue of Invasion, the Dominion and their allies were defeated; which makes the world suddenly going black-and-white all the more surprising. Invasion, Book Three, plot and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, script by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Bart Sears, inks by Joe Rubinstein with Tom Christopher.

Having deduced the nature of humanity's metagene, the lowly Dominator researcher drops the gene bomb on earth, irradiating it with particles that will effect every super-powered being on earth. (Well, except for the aliens. And a few like Starman and Robotman, who are so altered as to be unharmed. And the Atom. And Wonder Woman. And Green Lanterns...) Heroes and villains alike begin losing control of their powers, sometimes explosively, before collapsing into comas. Max Lord develops the nosebleed that signifies his powers as well.

The Omega Men and the Blasters make their way to earth, just in time to run into a contingent of earth's heroes (and Superman, who had been planning to leave earth forever...) trying to get to the Dominion's homeworld to look for a cure. There, the Dominator higher-ups are a little pissed at the researcher, since they planned on harvesting superhumans, and are trying to figure out how to reverse the genebomb as well.

Back on earth, Metamorpho has mysteriously returned from the dead, and Bart Sears would keep drawing him for some time in Justice League Europe. And in space, Robotman and J'onn J'onzz (disguised as a Dominator) get the information they need from the researcher, but then have to go to the space stalag for equipment. With an antidote-bomb prepared, the heroes return to earth...without Superman, who begins his exile.

This is a fun conclusion to a fun mini-series, and it's still one of my favorite DC crossovers.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Batman Azrael Returns."

With the exception of Azrael Plus #1 (guest-starring the Question) I really hadn't read a lot of Jean-Paul Valley's comics. I know there has been a replacement or two for Azrael as well, and I've barely read any of those, either. Still, once I had this figure, I thought Jean-Paul might want to get in on that Batman, Inc. business.

More with him, Batman Inc, and Jean-Paul's new partner, next week!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just like that, Quasar rendered himself unemployable.

Although, I haven't had a job interview in a while, on either side of the questioning; but are facial tattoos still the kiss of death, or are they mainstream now? I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of youth culture. Not since that restraining order, anyway.

Recently, I picked up the Fantastic Four DVD-Rom, A House Divided, which collects a hundred issues, including several annuals. As with almost any hundred straight issues of any comic, with a few exceptions, there are stretches of both good and terrible in there; but if you pick something like this up on the cheap, it does ameliorate a lot of the low points. I have another of those DVD-Roms from a few years back coming, that we'll go into more later, but I still have to finish reading the FF one; I think it has the entirety of both Chris Claremont and Mark Waid's runs, as well as good stuff from Adam Warren, Alan Davis, Karl Kesel, and more.

Why do I bring it up during a post on Quasar? Since I would love to have the sixty issues of the series collected cheaply, perhaps in a couple Essential black-and-white volumes or a DVD-Rom or something.

Three things I realized looking at these two issues the other day: as a series, Quasar always built off what had happened before in new and curious ways. For example: Quasar has a chance encounter with the Living Laser in #6, during Acts of Vengeance. The Living Laser gets zapped into alternate realities after crashing the Watcher's house; and in #30 the Watcher asks Quasar to stop LL from mucking around in What If's. Quasar then ends up in the New Universe in #31, where he gets the Star Brand so he can get home. Which brings us to #44 above ("Muck Amok," written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Andy Smith, inks by Ralph Cabrera.) where a recently returned to life Quasar finds he didn't burn out the Star Brand as he had thought, and he has to fight an Antibody escaped from the New Universe and villain Quagmire from the Squadron Supreme universe...!

Second: Quasar died, a lot. But he was also in a ton of crossovers, from Acts of Vengeance, to Infinity Gauntlet and War, to the terrible Starblast. Especially in the Infinity War issues, like #39, "To Be or Not to Be" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Steve Lightle, inks by Candlelario and McKenna. Featuring Wolverine prominently, for some reason.
A scene that's about three panels in the proper Infinity War limited series--Thanos gives Quasar the Ultimate Nullifier to try to take out the Magus, and Quasar himself is apparently wiped out of existence--is expanded for seven issues or so, from Quasar's point of view. Smartly, Quasar spends an issue doing his homework on the Nullifier, rather than just cowboying it.

Nice art on these two issues as well. Wouldn't mind at all if I had them all together to read, though. Or a Quasar action figure. With Ultimate Nullifier accessory...

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Last month (as I write this, anyway, well before I went on vacation) I noticed a leak in my apartment's front bathroom. I thought it was from the washing machine in the apartment upstairs, cleaned it up multiple times, and mentioned it to the landlord, or management agency or whatever. A couple of weeks later, someone finally stopped by to take a look at it. (To be fair, the apartments across from me recently burned mostly down; and the maintenance guys don't like to stop by when I'm not around because of the dog.) They weren't able to do anything straightaway, since they would have to check out upstairs; but they did say the leak wasn't from the washer. Gross...

When I got back from vacation, they still hadn't done anything. And a little later, I noticed a recurring leak in front of my other bathroom. Is there anything more annoying than stepping on wet carpet? How about the leak from the other bathroom seeping into my closet where I keep my comics? Although several boxes got soggy, I didn't lose very many comics worth noting--a few Bendis Daredevils, a chunk of Starman, possibly the world's largest surviving run of the Vertigo Kid Eternity book, and maybe my last remaining ToyFares. I am both not really broken up, and absolutely livid by this; and my landlords will be getting an earful if no progress is made between now and the next time I pay my rent.

But, whenever something like this happens, I do tend to find a mess of books I haven't flipped through in a while.

I haven't read all of Hitman, but the issues I've read were pretty good. Like this one, Hitman #60, "Closing Time," written by Garth Ennis, pencils by John McCrea, inks by Garry Leach.

And my collection of Ghost appears to have survived another disaster. I kind of need to re-read those one of these days. Panels from Ghost #6, "Stare at the Sun, part 3" Written by Chris Warner, pencils by Christian Zanier, inks by Steve Moncuse.

We might see what else I find later, I have to clean up a bit now...

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Friday, August 17, 2012

OK, this week's comics. And junk.

This has been a not-especially-wonderful week or so, but I did pick up a few things recently. First up, from the Batman: Power Attack line, Mutant Assault Batman and Dual Destruction Two-Face. Not bad, reasonably priced, great packaging art, slightly goofy. The Two-Face is for me like the above Robin, a bit of a place-holder: he's got the job until someone better comes along. And Battlegrip pretty much sold me on the red Batman with slightly oversized Man-Bat parts, but I love the name "Mutant Assault." Which reminds me...

This week also had a small but OK crop of comics: the aforementioned Uncanny X-Force #29. I think that storyline's got another two, three issues at least, too. There was also Daredevil Annual #1, featuring the ClanDestine, Dr. Strange, and Alan Davis. A quick glance found a couple reviews saying the annual didn't measure up to Mark Waid's current run, but I don't think anyone could say an unkind word about that art. And I've read the ClanDestine before, so I didn't mind seeing them again, either.

Butcher Baker #8 finally came out as well, more than a bit late, but I was more surprised that it was apparently the end of the series. Maybe it was always intended to be (I hate when a series claims to be a limited midway through) but it felt a little sudden. Then, writer Joe Casey and artist Mike Huddleston may have hurt each other's feelings a bit--Casey may have blamed Huddleston a bit for the delay, but Huddleston said he wasn't making enough money and had to do some paying work first. Butcher Baker definitely wasn't a series for everyone, but I was enjoying it and will be sorry to not get more. Oddly, in the backmatter, Casey quotes a line from Blade Runner: "The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long." I misremembered, but I thought this was the response...

...and wondered if Butcher Baker might not feel the same way.

Also picked up a small pile of DVD's...apparently, I won't spend more than three bucks on a DVD lately. I enjoyed the animated All-Star Superman (three bucks at Wal-Mart, if you're lucky) even though I'm not a huge Supes fan. I haven't had a moment to watch DC Superheroes: The Filmation Adventures yet; I think those cartoons are older than even me. The Fantastic Four animated series was from a few years ago, and I remember it as being OK, maybe not amazing. We'll see later. I did watch a Star Trek DVD the other day ("A Taste of Armageddon" and "Space Seed") but if I keep buying the original series on random DVD's, it's going to take me a billion years. But I did find a movie I had just been telling my brother-in-law was "not super-original, or great; but totally watchable." Doomsday:

And then a couple more: Hellboy Junior might not be canon (save for a few panels of HB wondering "What the #### was that?") but it was one of the few Hellboy books I hadn't read. Not for the easily offended, but that just means it's fun. And I picked up that Batman digest for three bucks, but was mildly disappointed since I've read "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge" and "The Cry of the Night is Kill!" before.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Invasion, Book Two!

Continuing DC's crossover event of 1988, Invasion #2: Battlefield Earth. Plot and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, script by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Todd McFarlane and Keith Giffen, inks by P. Craig Russell, Al Gordon, Joe Rubinstein, and Tom Christopher. After the Alien Alliance takes Australia, and demands the surrender of earth's super-heroes (and about 20 crossover tie-ins...) a 24-hour cease fire is declared, to allow the heroes time to give up. Or to plot their counterattack...

Led by General Eiling, Captain Atom, Amanda Waller, and Max Lord; earth's heroes break the cease-fire early, impressing the Khundish commander. He's still intent on killing them all, though, even as doubts as to the Dominators' intentions grow. The commander also convinces the newly-empowered Daxamite observers to "defend themselves" against Superman. And this early post-Crisis Supes wasn't in their league, facing six of them.

As the Alliance is put on the defensive, cracks begin to show. A Dominator, seemingly out of character, insults the Khundish commander, and is rewarded with a punch in the face. The Doms capture the Flash, but decide to experiment on him themselves, rather than turn him over to the Psions. That bites them in the ass, since it's a "hero-bomb" created by Lex Luthor. And the Daxamites, after putting Superman on the ropes, begin to weaken. Supes brings them into space, out of earth's atmosphere, which helps them recover; and the Daxamites wonder if they aren't on the wrong side. (Long time Legion of Super-Heroes readers will recognize the Daxamites' weakness as trace amounts of lead, but it's not spelled out here; just that something in the atmosphere hurts them.)

While the Khunds are forced out of Australia, the lowly Dominator researcher we saw last issue makes a fateful discovery: the metagene, source of humanity's unpredictable super-powers. This is less like Star Wars midi-chlorians (which tried to put an explanation on something that didn't need it) and more like Marvel's mutants (a blanket explanation for whatever) but will come into play later.

Flash (Wally West) and Manhunter (Mark Shaw) have almost driven the Durlans out of Cuba, but Wally's dad sacrifices himself to blow them up. (Somewhat surprisingly for a supporting character family member, I think he comes back.) Earth's relatively few space-capable heroes--Guy, Hal, Firestorm, and J'onn in a spacesuit--join Superman and the Daxamites to take the fight to the aliens; as one of the Daxamites returns to earth to call his homeworld, sacrificing himself.

While the Okaarans are pushed back in the Russian front, the non-powered prisoners of the Starlag riot; part of Vril Dox's escape plan with the Omega Men and the metagene prisoners. And the Daxamite fleet arrives at earth. To defend it. With super-powered troops. As the Alliance ships are besieged, a message is sent from the Dominator flagship: preserve earth for the Doms' metagene project at all costs, even their allies. Enraged, the various Alliance races surrender; except for the Khunds and Dominators; but earth has an ally we haven't seen yet...

It plays a bit against expectations that the Alliance and the bulk of the invasion is over in the second issue of three; but it still has about ten crossover issues to run through.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This happened to me today. Mostly.

Haven't done this in a while: click to enlarge!

The article in question in Time was "Mountain Dew's Dub the Dew online poll goes horribly wrong," and since it mentioned rickrolling I did have "Never Gonna Give You Up" stuck in my head for a good two hours. The worst part is, I'm old enough to remember when it was first on the radio. Ugh. And xkcd had a better joke for this one some time ago, which is probably why it was stuck in my head.

Still, earlier this week Progressive Ruin had a post on a pile of classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle stuff, and I have the Ninja Pizza piece. I'd used it in a Nightcrawler/Deadpool strip some time ago, and then that made me want to do another strip with them; so I knocked this out real quick.

Oddly, I bought the new issue of Uncanny X-Force (#29) and while I didn't love it (Psylocke stabs herself, to prevent herself from bringing about a totalitarian future, and fails somehow.) there was another fun Deadpool/AoA Nightcrawler moment that hopefully wasn't horrible foreshadowing.

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I wasn't expecting to see a universe where this happened...

I had no intention of picking up any of DCUC Wave 17, the deputy Lantern wave. But, then I was able to get Indigo Tribe Atom, Sinestro Corps Scarecrow, Orange Lantern Lex Luthor, and Star Sapphire Wonder Woman at varying levels of clearance. (And from a store about three blocks from my house!) Then, I got the last two pieces--well, three, since the head and crotch were packed as one--and completed the Anti-Monitor. (And check out the review there at It's All True: there's a helpful tip to take the cape off of the neck peg, so the cape will hang better.) had a review too, that points out the Anti-Monitor isn't in scale, with anything.

Well, maybe.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From Silver Surfer #128, "Beneath the Silver Skin" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Rick Leonardi (prologue) and Ron Garney, inks by Bob Wiacek.

Recently, I re-read the last year-and-change of the Silver Surfer's regular book, from #121 to #145. (We saw the last issue, #146, during 'The End' week some time back.) Coming off George Perez's run, DeMatteis would start with #123 and stay until #145, with Tom DeFalco co-writing or scripting a couple issues; and a good batch of artists: Ron Garney, Cary Nord, Paul Pelletier, Tom Grummett, and Jon J. Muth.

Plot-wise, DeMatteis had a good start: the Surfer's homeworld, Zenn-La, is destroyed. Retroactively. It's implied that it's been gone for years, and has only been a holographic projection, which comes as a surprise to the Surfer. He loses some of his memory and all of his emotions, and returns to earth to try and put them back together. This was just after the Onslaught crossover, so the Fantastic Four and the Avengers were MIA, presumed dead; so no help there. Instead, the Surfer returns to Alicia Masters, who inspired him to help humanity when he first came to earth with Galactus.
After encounters with the Hulk and Dr. Strange, the Surfer gets the Puppet Master to build one of his clay replicas of himself, to use it to find his own memories. Of course, the clay Surfer steals the real one's cosmic power and rampages, while Daredevil and Spider-Man try to stop it. Powerless, Norrin Radd confronts himself, which seemingly causes a massive explosion. Instead, the Surfer regains his power as he and Alicia are thrown back in time to 1947; while the spent clay Surfer is stolen by an organization that thinks the Surfer could be a new messiah for earth...

We may come back to some of this run, since there was a lot to enjoy: a "minus 1" issue with gray aliens and an abducted Stan Lee! The truth about Zenn-La! A dead Surfer versus the ghost of Mephisto! Alicia and the Surfer as a couple, even when the Thing returns! There were some weak bits, too, though: the last set of villains--the Coroner, Tenebrae, and the Mergence--weren't great: an existential version of the Borg, with an aged Goth and a woman in a praying mantis suit. That storyline went too long, and wasted Muth on art. The big bad "the Other" are interesting, but derailed by the Mephisto appearance and the sudden appearance of Scrier, a mysterious figure from Spider-Man comics of the time.

Still, overall not too bad, especially the Ron Garney issues.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Oh, Nosferatu.

Taking a mental health day today, folks; so enjoy this picture of my Youngest son, Spongebob, and Graf Orlok, a.k.a. Nosferatu.
Why, you ask? Well... has a great write-up on Aztech Toys Graf Orlok, so go check that out instead, 'kay? Regular nonsense should resume tomorrow.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Apparently, some orthodontia is involved...

We saw the Dominators yesterday in 1988's Invasion, but today we check out a very early appearance of their race...from ten years earlier and a thousand years later. From 1978, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #248, "Earth's Last Stand" Written by Paul Levitz, art by Joe Staton and Jack Abel.

On the neutral planet Weber's World, a group of Legionnaires led by Wildfire try to guard a peace conference between the United Planets and the Dominators, while on earth a Khund invasion force is too much for the skeleton force left defending it. The Science Police and the Legion of Substitute Heroes make a noble effort, but are overwhelmed as well. Brainiac 5 is sucked into a black hole, and after robots attack the conference, the dignitaries from the UP and the Dominators are somehow teleported away. And the Dark Circle closes...

When I first read Invasion, I thought the Dominators had been created for the series, but they had been around for some time. They would also have a good run in Giffen's "Five Years Later" Legion stories, too.
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Invasion, Book One!

We're coming up on a full year of 80-Page Thursdays, even though I'm writing this in March. Actually, I'm behind schedule, since it took me a while to find these issues again: from 1989, Invasion! Book One, The Alien Alliance. Plot and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, script by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Todd McFarlane, inks by P. Craig Russell, Al Gordon, Joe Rubinstein, and Todd McFarlane. I love this book, to be honest. It's the rare comic I enjoy, even though there's all sorts of things in it that I don't necessarily care for.

The titular alliance is several alien races, mostly from Legion of Super-Heroes continuity or the Omega Men, led by the Dominators. Although they first appeared in Adventure Comics #361, this was the first time I saw them, and the Doms had been redesigned slightly to make them more inhuman and emphasize their disc caste-markings and their teeth. I always thought they had a very Mars Attacks! feel, although that could just be me. (It really comes through in some of the house ads as well.)

Experimenting on captured humans, the Dominators are concerned about the unpredictability of humans and human genetics. Already, earth had given rise to multiple super-powered beings (and reams of alien and alien-powered defenders, but ignore that...) and the collected aliens worry about potential armies of them. Again, never mind there's really not that many supers on earth, and you can't put three of them in the same room without two trying to beat each other up...

With their allies--the Khunds, Durlans, G'il Dishpan and observers the Daxamites from Legion comics; the Thanagarians of Hawkman (who, as a race, are generally more dickish than Carter) and the Citadel, the Psions, and Okaarans from Omega Men (And possibly Teen Titans, maybe.) the Doms already have the ball rolling. Depowered Green Lanterns are hunted down, to prevent them speaking on earth's behalf. Darkseid is approached, and while he doesn't join, he does tell the Alliance to do what they like to earth, but not to destroy it, since he's still looking for the Anti-Life Equation. Doom Patrol villain Garguax is evicted from his strategic position on the dark side of the moon.

To keep Rann safe, Adam Strange is forced to surrender himself, hoping he'll be able to warn earth when the zeta-beam wears off. Strange is taken to the Starlag, a giant prison satellite build by the Citadel for dissidents, political prisoners, and test subjects. He briefly manages to escape to earth, only to find the Khunds have an advance station at his return point. Strange's former cellmate, Garryn Bek, is then celled up with a seemingly emotionless Coluan, Vril Dox. Meanwhile, the Omega Men are attacked by the Durlans, and captured after several casualties. And a lone low-caste Dominator wonders if maybe the human genetic anomaly couldn't just be neutralized, as the Invasion begins...

As a beachhead, Australia is taken in short order. Somewhat disturbingly for the alliance, the Daxamites develop super-powers in earth's atmosphere; although as observers they don't seem intent on doing anything, unless they get orders from their homeworld. The alliance also isn't sure what to make of the JLA's teleport tubes--technology seemingly far beyond the earthlings. And elsewhere, the Lords of Order tell the Spectre if he or earth's mystic heroes get involved, Chaos may ally with the aliens...

At Belle Reve prison, Amanda Waller is ordered to bench the Suicide Squad, as the President waits to see what the aliens do. She doesn't listen...and the Dominators make their demand: they will spare earth, if the humans surrender their super-heroes. The next day, the headlines at the Daily Planet tell the story: "Earth to Invaders: Drop Dead!"

Despite building on years of continuity of some of DC's less popular books, Invasion! is still pretty accessible. (Aside from the Thanagarians, I knew of the Khunds and Daxamites going in, but the rest were new to me.) This issue is almost all set-up, and although we see a few familiar faces like Adam Strange and Perry White, there isn't a main hero in the story yet. The plotline with the humans experimented on by the Dominators, the Blasters; goes nowhere. I've never read an issue of L.E.G.I.O.N. either; but still plenty to like here.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Of Batmen and Bat-Signals."

Although I'm back from vacation now, as I write this I don't go back to work until tomorrow. The temptation was to spend the evening scratching lottery tickets in the futile hope that I'd win enough to not have to go back, but I refrained and bought a couple figures instead. (I did buy a Powerball, since tonight's drawing is probably in the $240 million dollar range; even after taxes I'd clear enough to make an action figure of myself...)

The Azrael-Batman there (reviewed over at, which called the repaint a year ago) may or may not be available locally yet: I know he's going to be in a two-pack with a battle-damaged Batman, but I got him off eBay for $15.50. Not bad, but beware: this was shipped from China and may be a factory-second figure. The left wrist on mine was broken and glued back on; and there may be a bit of warping on the cape pieces. The chest emblem is missing a touch of paint as well. Those aren't deal-breakers for me, though; and the cape could definitely be adjusted. The left hand is currently held on with putty, which does keep the articulation!

We will probably see Azrael-Bats again--although, thanks to my scheduling, I'm not sure when. The replacement Batman from Knightfall, Jean-Paul Valley carried a solo title for over a hundred issues, first as Azrael (with a #1,000,000 issue) then as Azrael: Agent of the Bat. I'm not sure I've read more than a couple of them, but I had an idea on bringing him back...

I also got the Movie Masters Batman and Bane, on sale at K-Mart right about now for $12.79 or so. I guess the Batman is the same as the one from the Dark Knight, which I've had on the Bat-Pod on my entertainment center for...ever, judging by the dust that was on him. So, I have four-ish pieces of the Bat-Signal, out of a possible six.

OK, that's not quite right: the Youngest got some Fisher-Price Trio Batman sets, with Batman and the Joker, and Robin and the Riddler. They were little character two-packs, marked half-off, with a few block-pieces.

I have the Movie Masters Batman, Bane, Gordon, and Dale got me Alfred. Which puts us here:
Gordon came with the smashed Bat-signal cover. I don't know if I'd display it that way, but I have yet to see a Catwoman figure, let alone the other two. Eventually...

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