Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chaykin, before and after:

We doubled up on some Howard Chaykin books the other day: first, "the complete Howard Chaykin classic!" Ironwolf, reprinting his early work from Weird Worlds #8-10 with Denny O'Neil on script and Walt Simonson on letters! It's a sci-fi swords-against-the-evil-empire number, with Chaykin showing some of his trends early: beautiful and occasionally deceptive women, and a hero who wonders if the side of "good" is really any better than said evil empire.

Then, from 2004, Solo #4, featuring six short stories. "Horrors!" is the shortest, but also a lot of fun; as Chaykin talks about his influences, about getting into comics work, and about his shame at being unable to deliver a scary story. I don't think I read Solo when it came out, and now I'm wishing Chaykin could do one of these a year...
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Monday, April 29, 2013

No blog today!

Well, not really, anyway. Yesterday, the kids, the girlfriend, and I went to Cat Tales and saw the lions, tigers, and so forth. Including a glum and uncredited bear:

That was a lot of fun! Then, we came home, and while I watched Chronicle and the Tom Baker/Dr. Who special on BBC America; the Youngest and I packed a ton of boxes for my upcoming move.

So many boxes...most of that is from my main bookshelf, which was overloaded well beyond usefulness, as there were books I haven't seen in ages there. Then, there's about two and a half boxes of VHS tapes: the Youngest boxed them up like a champ; although the Girlfriend is somewhat appalled that I even have a VCR anymore. But sometimes there's stuff that somehow still hasn't made it to DVD, let alone Blu-Ray. Like this one!

Yes, "the Only X-Men Animated Adventure Ever Created!" Except, um, all those others. It's still only on VHS, the old animated pilot, released in 1992: X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men. As usual, don't pay that price for a VHS copy, but if you can't hold out, as usual these days you can just watch it online, yes?

With a little luck, I should be back to work tomorrow. Unless my spine crimps up from moving this nonsense...
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Some things only I want:

The other week at the Comic Book Shop, as I picked up a pile of quarter books, they gave me a batch they couldn't really sell, like the old Official Marvel Index to the Amazing Spider-Man and the first thirty-plus issues of Marvel Age. (Which isn't being accepted at the GCD, so that link doesn't really help...and you miss out on some interesting covers, here and there.) Unfortunately, I didn't get #31, the Nightcrawler issue with a Dave Cockrum cover.

So, I put in an order to My Comic Shop.com, and got a few things I hadn't been able to dig up before. Like the Question Returns #1, one of the few Question issues I didn't have. Except I kind of hated it: there's a sweet Dan Brereton cover, but returning writer Dennis O'Neil goes all over the place storywise, and much as I like Eduardo Barreto's art, this time it didn't do it for me. (The Question's eyes are visible through his mask, which shouldn't be.) Disappointing, especially since the issues of Question Quarterly I had been missing were great.

Then, there's 2000 AD Presents #15, which features a Dan Dare story with Dave Gibbons art, and the conclusion to the space prison serial Harry Twenty on the High Rock, written by Gerry Finley-Day, with art by Alan Davis. Is it the greatest story ever? Well, no, man; but I had most of the rest of it and not the dramatic conclusion! It's a fun adventure yarn, although like a lot of space prison stories, it does beg the point of why the hell you would go to the trouble of launching convicts into space in the first place...I haven't seen the movie Lockout, but I'd be willing to bet there's some overlap with Harry Twenty.

Anyway, got a couple more 80-pagers, that can wait for a Thursday sometime. Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

80-Page Thursday: Superman 80-Page Giant 2011!

We've got a few more 80-pagers coming, maybe even a month's worth if we're lucky! And we're starting with one I waited some time to get: Superman 80-Page Giant 2011, featuring stories by Beau Tidwell, Abhay Khosla, Joe Caramagna, and more; with art by Amilcar Pinna, Eddy Barrows, Dean Haspiel, and more. And it's pretty solid!

Jor-El stars in the lead, "First Time for Everything," as Superman's dad tries to get around the Kryptonian cops and find evidence he hopes isn't there. Wildcat guests with Perry White in "Old Men Talking in Bars," which also features a Guardian cameo; as Perry and Wildcat have a drink or seven and worry about their sons. Both solid stories, but trumped by "Quarter-Life Crisis of Infinite Jimmy Olsens," as "science terrorists" kidnap and clone Jimmy Olsen! A hundred Olsens running through Metropolis, all living their short half-lives as fast as they can: it's a little too morbid for a classic Jimmy Olsen story, but the mad ideas of it remain.

To forget more about others, Bizarro am isolating him from all Bizarrokind...not unlike a certain someone's walk across the country. Except the rest of the Bizarro World won't leave him alone! Then, Supergirl's dating life is ruined after an alien bloodsucking monster attacks from the fair's freakshow; Lois Lane rises to Lana Lang's challenge to find the owner of a lost debit card, and Superboy tries to blow off some steam, which of course leads to a run-in with a werewolf.

A good find, and I picked it up with two others I'd been holding out for: the DC Comics Presents hundred-pagers Superboy's Legion and Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City! The former is a great Alan Davis Elseworlds, the latter my favorite Riddler story from Peter Milligan and Kieron Dwyer! And all three ran me less than ten bucks at Hastings! Nice.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I...I don't think I have an explanation for this one.

I still think my Hit-Monkey has two right hands, but it's small enough not to be noticed. Pity I never finished that Ultra-Humanite, though...

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

This is what happens when you have two new 52 figures.

I don't buy those little Zerboz figures all that often, which is probably just as well since I could easily end up with a pile of them if I bought one every time I got lunch. I got Hawkman today, though; and the DC Unlimited Hawkman on the weekend, so it made for a quick one.

Even though I have a ton of new books, I'm a little behind right now; partly because I'm looking for a new place! Which will involve dusting and packing a couple hundred action figures, and dozens of small boxes of comics. And maybe some furniture...
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Dark Knight vs. Dark Knight!

Has anyone else done this yet? I got the new DC Unlimited Dark Knight Returns Batman the other day; so I thought I'd get out and dust off the classic DC Direct Dark Knight Returns Batman. (Incidentally, the DC Direct Amazon sales page appears to have a picture of the modern Mattel one on it, so be careful!)

DCD's old joints are a little loose, so he had a bit of trouble holding some poses, but he's not particularly articulated anyway. Elbows, knees, hips, shoulders, glovetops, and neck for a total of eleven points. On my figure, the right glovetop is stuck and I don't think it'll move, and there's a slight white mark on the underside of his nose. Still, the paint is great otherwise: the mask line is cleaner on the DCD version than the Mattel one.

In the same vein, my DC Unlimited DKR Bats had a bit of excess mold trim on one of his hands, but it cleaned right off. He's got ball-jointed head and shoulders; cut biceps, wrists, waist, boot-tops, and hinge elbows, torso, knees, ankles, and swivel-hinge hips. Nineteen points, then.

DCD DKR Batman comes with a piece of a street base that would attach with the other figures in the line (Carrie Kelly Robin, Superman, and Joker; all in Frank Miller's style) and a batarang with a rope. Mattel's only comes with a Batarang.

Although the DC Direct version has been out for a few years, it's also been reissued a few times; so it's not hard to find. The Mattel one is new, and should be more available soon.
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Friday, April 19, 2013


If you collect action figures, there are some characters you're just bound to get multiple figures of: your Optimus Primes, Snake-Eyes, Luke Skywalkers. For superhero collectors, it's Batmen and Spider-Men; or in recent years Green Lanterns and Iron Men. I usually try to get new characters, or at least ones that might not have had a modern figure. Out of the 34 figures I've bought so far this year, nineteen were new characters to my collection, or substantial updates. And two were Batman...this preamble is just me trying to sort out how I ended up with three Jonah Hex figures. Three different ones, but still.

The DCUC Jonah was loose from eBay, $5+$6.50 postage, March 2011. The earlier DC Direct version was $15.99 from the Comic Book Shop, and I got him July 2008. While I found him this month, the movie figure from NECA is from 2010, which might explain why it was $2.99 at Hastings. I haven't opened him yet, just because I've been wrapped up in some business. We'll see...

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

80-Page Thursdays: Ghosts #1!

80-Page Thursdays is still going to be a feature around here, just whenever the hell I get around to it or find another 80-pager. Like today's issue! From 2012 and Vertigo, Ghosts #1, featuring stories and art from Geoff Johns, Paul Pope, Gilbert Hernandez, John McCrea, and more.

Before stepping down as Vertigo's executive editor, Karen Berger asked Joe Kubert for a story for this anthology. Before he died, he had written and drawn "The Boy and the Old Man," which is presented here as the original pencils. It's pretty easily the best of the lot; although as someone who enjoys a bowl of chili every meal or so, I did like Neil Kleid and John McCrea's "A Bowl of Red."

Even though they were created by Neil Gaiman, the Dead Boy Detectives don't do much for me; and their eight pages was to be continued in some other anthology. Both Al Ewing and Rufus DayGlo's "The Night After I Took the Data Entry Job I Was Visited by My Own Ghost" and Cecil Castellucci and Amy Reeder's "Wallflower" aren't bad, examining the path not taken. The rest of the issue, particularly Paul Pope's "Treasure Lost" and Gilbert Hernandez's "The Dark Lady" didn't wow me.

This was another ninety-nine cent pickup, so for the price, not bad at all. Per the Beat's sale charts, Ghosts sold 16,574 copies; better than previous anthologies like Strange Adventures, Unexpected, or Mystery in Space. I should keep an eye out for those last two.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I'm not sure how often the Riddler and the Joker (or even the Joker and Harley Quinn) team up in recent years, even before the new 52. But I went with this anyway.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Have I done one of those posts lately where I was looking for a specific book, didn't find it, and end up writing about whatever comic I found instead? Well, here we go! From 1979, The Flash #276, "Freakout!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Alex Saviuk, inks by Frank Chiaramonte.

Although the cover features Barry beating the JLA, the story is much, much darker. Previously, at a costume party, Barry was drugged with Angel Dust, and his wife Iris was badly injured by gibbering madman Yorkin. In his Flash costume, Barry manages to catch up to, and violently assault Yorkin; but that's a hallucination. Barry is actually in a hospital, and Iris died at the party; and Barry has no idea what is real anymore, until he sees her body at the morgue.

At the JLA satellite, Superman leads a small meeting with Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman; proposing a leave of absence for the Flash. They don't like it, but know the Flash will need all their help. And Barry arrives, but not wanting the help they were thinking of: he wants them to bring Iris back to life. When they sadly decline, Barry turns on them, claiming they were never his friends; and threatens to take the satellite apart...

Man, Green Lantern just looks pissed that Barry even asked...

I had the next issue when I was a kid, and I'm not sure I realized Flash's wife was dead, or that he was even married. Wish it was handy, too: a crazed Barry literally runs circles around the JLA, crushing GL and Bats against Superman and Wonder Woman! Flash would continue for another six years and 74 issues, to issue #350, but the shadow of Iris's death would linger for a long time. Even though she'd eventually come back, oddly enough.
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Monday, April 15, 2013

What should Batman do with a giant dinosaur?

So, if you have a giant dinosaur, write it off on your taxes! Batman says so, and I'd take his word over dumb ol' Turbotax any day...

We looked at our Batcave setup a while back, and mentioned the ubiquitous dinosaur therein. Today's issue isn't the original origin of it, but close enough: from 1997 and rocking a Walt Simonson cover, the Batman Chronicles #8, "Secrets of the Batcave: Dinosaur Island" Story and art by Graham Nolan, with a thank you to Chuck Dixon.
When the death of the owner of the Dinosaur Island theme park is ruled a suicide; Batman knows straightaway that's not right. As Alfred narrates, Bruce had met him when he visited the park as a child; probably one of his only happy memories for years following the death of his family. The owner's partner killed him, planning to turn the cheery educational park into a Jurassic Park-knockoff scare. Which apparently included a number of remote-control dinosaurs, which the partner uses to attack Batman. With predictable results: smashing up a great deal of the park before Batman brings him in.

Later, Bruce berates himself for "self-indulgence," going after a killer because he knew the victim. He also wonders if he's accomplishing anything as Batman, since "even that homicidal clown isn't doing any prison time." Alfred decides, for perspective, Bruce needs something to remind himself of his victories. And a scrapbook wouldn't cut it...

I love how nonplussed Bruce looks about that thing, when everyone else quite rightly knows the dinosaur is the coolest thing ever. Now, stop reading blogs and do your taxes! Or I'll have to claim you as a dependent...hey, there's an idea.

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Friday, April 12, 2013


Has either Bronze Tiger or Catman shown up in DC's new 52 yet? I could look it up, but I doubt Catman is still Deadshot's hetero lifemate; like they were in Secret Six. As long as Catman isn't rolled back to being Catwoman's stalker again, he should count himself lucky.

Have a good weekend!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Losing face:

Even though I have a few more homemade posts than usual done, I'm a bit behind right now; just dealing with some assorted real-life stuff and swamped at work. Still, I have been re-reading, once again, the Dennis O'Neil/Denys Cowan (and others) run of the Question. It's a series I love to death, even if I really discovered it only in recent years, getting most of it in one chunk from the quarter bins.

I wouldn't have got to read it at the time, although I was interested from a preview with a Batman guest-spot. The only issue I read when it was published--1987 or so--was the Question #6; "...That Small Rain Down Can Rain..." Written by Dennis O'Neil, pencils by Denys Cowan, inks by Rick Magyar. As the Question tracks down the terrorist/gangster Benno Musto (which ties into a failed arms deal and a dioxin-contaminated real estate deal) Benno is more disappointed than usual at his son Junior. Benno sees Junior as a "sissy," a wimp, and now a failure; the Question stopped Junior from blowing up a school bus in issue #3.

Ignoring his failure, Junior jumps to the conclusion that maybe his dad would love him if he looked tough, instead of like a mama's boy; and proceeds to pour acid on his own face. To his credit, Junior takes his disfiguring injuries stolically; wrapping his face in bandages and rushing off to see his dad. This leads to a bit of confusion later with both the "No-face" Question and Junior out to stop Benno from murdering an old man.

Although this issue came out in 1987, I associate it with 1991's Alice in Chains classic "Man in the Box." Although some of the lyrics could easily apply to Junior--the "dog who gets beat" for example--it's geographically related, in my mind: I remember seeing the video, on some daytime talk show complaining about it? The same place I kept this comic. And the song, the video, and the comic all end with a sudden, sharp shock.

This wasn't the end of Junior and Benno's story, either; and to the Question's credit, he feels pity for Junior. I saw the preview cover for Trinity War with the Question; sight unseen, I'll tell you this issue is better...

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"More Probation."

I was really, really trying to come up with a better name for this post, but got stuck on "Probator," which did not sound right. Yeah.

I'm behind on my reading, so who knows what's on for tomorrow...

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I'm not sure about the hands on that figure, but otherwise I like Protector; even though I've never read a comic with him. As the Protector, anyway: he's Noh-Varr, the Marvel Boy of Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones' 2000 series. How he ended up as "Protector," and on the Avengers, I'm not sure; but apparently he betrayed them during the Phoenix thing. Which doesn't make a lot of sense either...

Hyperion is on the Avengers now as well; although after looking it up, he isn't the same as any previously seen version of the character. Fine. I think I maybe get what current Avengers writer Jonathan Hickman is trying to do with new Hyperion, Captain Universe, and Smasher characters, and the return of the Star Brand and Nightmask; but I'm not sold on it. For whatever reason, when I heard the Star Brand described as a "planetary defense mechanism" it reminded me of Earth X.
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