Thursday, October 29, 2015

I think I bought this in August, but in time for Halloween!

A fun little pickup: from 2003, Neal Adam's Monsters, story and art by Neal Adams.

Actually, this was collected in 2003, but bits and pieces of this, like Frankenstein's monster, had appeared here and there beforehand. In the introduction, Adams mentions having the idea for the Werewolf as "a person who would literally turn into a wolf," and the story appearing before the Howling, which was released in 1981.

Along with his Dracula vs. Frankenstein vs. Werewolf story, this also collects some of Adam's design work for Stuart Gordon's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond and a smattering of Marvel covers for good measure. For $2.49, a steal!

Watching scary movies from this evening through the weekend, so have a good Halloween!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Is there something horrible on the Blame? Odds are, yeah.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's a modernized update of a classic character, of course all the fun's sucked out of it...

Well, that's not entirely true. Partially because Metamorpho was so much fun to begin with. You could suck fun out of him all day and still have some, that went weird, there. From 2007-2008, Metamorpho: Year One, story by Dan Jurgens, art by Jurgens, Mike Norton Jesse Delperdang, and Jose Marzan, Jr.

This version of Rex Mason starts as an adventure-TV star, risking his life for the cameras on a TV show produced by billionaire Simon Stagg. Consistent with his usual portrayals, Stagg is an utter bastard; from nickel-and-diming Mason on his contract, to plotting to have him killed for a DVD special. Of course, Stagg may also hate Mason for dating his daughter Sapphire, as does unfrozen caveman Java. (A bit of lampshade hanging refers to Java being brought back to life by Stagg's genetic engineers, and Stagg's legal department probably insured the big moron's legal status would be indentured servant or pet or something.)

Exploring a pyramid for the Orb of Ra, Mason is knocked out by Java (on Stagg's order) and left to die. Instead, Mason is exposed to the meteorite the Orb was made from, and transformed into Metamorpho, that fabulous freak. (There's a whole backstory about the sun god Ra and how the meteorite is supposed to create soldiers to fight Set Apep, but I don't think we get into that here.) He doesn't feel that fabulous though, even though he's able to use enough of his powers instinctively to get out of the collapsed pyramid, repair a jet, and get back to the states; where Stagg wangs him with the Orb, Metamorpho's Kryptonite.

I'm missing issue #3 right now--another limited series short an issue! But I doubt it really explains why Mason doesn't seem to realize Stagg straight-up tried to murder him. He is somewhat blinded by the chance of a cure: Stagg downplays the possiblity of some hack like Lex Luthor or STAR Labs returning Mason to normal. In issue #4, Stagg fixes Mason up with a realistic rubber mask--just not realistic enough to get through airport security, especially when Stagg tips them off. He doesn't want Sapphire with him (or Java, for that matter) and maneuvers her towards a more suitable guy, industrialist Wally Bannister. I was disappointed that Sapphire seems to fall for it, and Wally is still around by the end of the series: per Wikipedia, the Bannister character was killed off towards the end of the original 60's Metamorpho series, but the plotline was never resolved.

I actually have Justice League of America #42, "Metamorpho Says No!" where the JLA offers Metamorpho a spot on the team and he declines, only wanting to return to normal. The rest of that issue has a silly alien menace, the Unimaginable; but makes more sense than issue #6's updated version, which features most of the League pretending to be Goldface to put him to the test. (They had complete faith in Mason, but none in Stagg.) Metamorpho again refuses JLA membership, but decides to use his powers to help when he can. So, not an awful update, but so not as fun as the original.
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Sometimes, the GCD doesn't have all the answers, so I have to drop the science.

I know, I'm scared too. But when we looked at Batman Adventures #5 the other day, I said I wanted to see if it had been collected. The GCD didn't have it listed, but there was a smaller, digest-sized collection of issues #5 through #9, Shadows and Masks. The cover shown on Amazon is slightly different than mine--classic logo, Batman and Robin in the corner--but the pricing varies from ninety-four cents to thirty-five bucks, on various listings.

I had thought the Mayor Penguin storyline would be highlighted in this volume, but I don't think it comes up again after #5! Bats may be avoiding the cops because of the mayor, but that's about it. Instead, Black Mask is the main villain, and Batman infiltrates his False Face Society under the alias Matches Malone, with the informant Eel O'Brian.

Somewhat surprisingly for a kid-targeted digest, a good chunk of this book goes towards Batman's love life. OK, Julie Madison was a bust; but then as Matches, Bats saves a young single mom Charlotte from a burning building. It was arson caused by Firefly working for the FFS; but "Matches" covers her rescue as not wanting to face a murder rap. He then uses Bruce Wayne's connections to get Charlotte a decent job, and is almost on a dating relationship with her; when Black Mask finally snaps and attacks Wayne Industries. She had thought Matches was a good guy, and is heartbroken to see him working for Black Mask, and Batman can't tell her otherwise. His relationship with Phantasm isn't going any better: she wants Bats to trust her, and seems to possibly be working her way into the gang undercover just as he did; but Batman can't forgive her murders. On the other hand, Batman discovers he completely trusts Batgirl, even though he didn't train her.

Bronze Tiger serves as one of Black Mask's lieutenants, with his look not translating to the animated style very well. (His other lieutenants are Firefly, Black Spider, Sportsmaster, and the Gorilla Boss!) But along with the regular storyline, some of the back-ups tie in; such as Ty Templeton's story about the secrets of Matches Malone...and why Batman can't look in the mirror while he wears that mustache. Except, now that I've found this one, I wonder if the next issues were collected as well! Especially since Black Mask is revealed to be not the final boss...

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Maybe the reason Thor loves earth is really because Asgard sssssssssucks.

Common story points in classic Thor comics: Thor remembering the best of his foster brother Loki, even though we've only seen Loki being a dick doing dickish things, for several hundred issues. Loki, consistently upping the quality and quantity of his dickishness. Odin being completely unfair, ineffectual due to the Odinsleep, or both.

Uncommon story points: immortals of Asgard being forbidden to harm an "innocent" mortal, or to kill a fellow Asgardian. And when I say "uncommon," I mean I don't think it was ever brought up before or since this issue! From 1991, Thor #432, "At Death Do We Part!" Plot, pencils and words by Ron Frenz and Tom DeFalco; finishes by Al Milgrom.

Thor had been merged with the mortal Eric Masterson for a while here, but Loki has discovered the secret, and threatens Eric's son Kevin. That's when Thor tells Loki that's a no-no, against Big Daddy Odin's edict...but seriously, I don't think it was foreshadowed, or even mentioned, before this issue! Thor won't kill Loki after a heated battle, but will execute him after Loki murders an innocent woman while taking a shot at Eric's ex and son. (The Enchantress and Mephisto are involved as well, since I think this was all part of Loki's plan, or Mephisto's.)

I don't think Thor's immortality-eradication blast had ever been mentioned before either, and it also feels like an asspull. Of course, Odin then acts like Thor used Mjolnir to flatten a sack full of puppies, and has Heimdall pass the sentence of banishment for all eternity!...about two years, until #457. Eric becomes Thor, while Thor's soul apparently ends up in a sack in hell...that may have been a misdirect, and it might've been Loki in the sack, with Thor's consciousness merely submerged. Maybe? I don't know, I kinda fell off reading Thor here. Not because I didn't like the Eric Masterson Thor, that grew on me. But the way Frenz and DeFalco got there felt like a cheat!
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Shayera's the mean one here, and I still like her better than Katar...

Heh, funny: I mentioned Hawkworld a couple years back, and in that very same post I mention the infamously terrible Warlord #10: then in my quarter-book haul last weekend, I got another copy of Warlord #10 (if I get them all, it better open a portal to hell or something...) and today's book: from 1991, Hawkworld #16, "Brothers and Sisters" Written by John Ostrander, art and cover by Graham Nolan. I note the cover, featuring Wonder Woman clocking Hawkwoman, since I had seen it in the ads for the War of the Gods crossover, and always thought it was a Brian Bolland number.

This was the post-Crisis versions of the Hawks, and Shayera was a hardened cop, while Katar was a relative rookie she called "Peacock." Katar may not have had all the skills, but was pretty damn adept at stabbing things, as he demonstrates on a pair of shape-changers. The shape-changers had been disguised as Feds, but worked for Circe; and had approached the Thanagarian embassy (?) in the hopes of setting the Hawks on Wonder Woman, who was currently a wanted fugitive for busting some Amazons out of jail, so one could receive medical attention. The Thanagarian ambassador Klus knew they wanted Shayera for her rep, figuring she might "accidentally" kill WW. And Shayera fights hard against Diana, who doesn't want to hurt her.

Katar hits Shayera with a net, giving them a chance to hear Wonder Woman's side of the story. She admits her guilt, circumstances not withstanding, and says she will face the charges after the War of the Gods business. She had already won over Katar (who describes her as the only person he'd met who believes in American principles, and she was a Themysciran) and Shayera agrees, coming up with a way to sneak her past the cops:

Not up on the continuity, but still a perfectly charming issue, even if Wonder Woman takes most of it away from the Hawks. I don't recall a lot of the War of the Gods crossovers--in fact, I only just picked up the second or third issue from another Hastings quarter-bin a while ago! Now, if I remembered where I put it...
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Venom Report."

Ah, Thunderbolts code! I'm sure Deadpool only thinks to use it to steal food from Elektra's fridge or something. ("Hey, do you have any Greek yogurt?" Pool asked, seconds before being stabbed with a sai...)

And when earth heroes like Venom, Captain Marvel, or even Iron Man hang out with the Guardians of the Galaxy, I'm sure they get the equivalent of child-safety locks and kiddie settings. Probably have to restrict their internet usage and lock out the adult channels...
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Falling behind, but I wasn't going to go deep on this issue anyway.

From 2000, the Batman Chronicles #20, featuring stories from Devin Grayson, Scott Beatty, and Ian Edginton; and art by Yvel Guichet, Dean Zachary, Mshindo, and more. Featuring three team-up stories...and no Batman! Catwoman meets the Weinbergs, of the Relative Heroes miniseries; who I'm not entirely sure I heard of before stumbling into this issue. As Catwoman helps the kids get away from the D.E.O, she also gives a little advice to the young Temper, who isn't really sure if she's not more super-villain than hero.

In the second story, at Tim Drake's private school, class photo day is made far more interesting when the photographer is former superheroine-slash-model Jade. Tim tries to dodge her, since he had been extra-protective of his secret identity at the time; but as Robin helps her out against some prep school thugs. (That kind of gets skeevy, when their assault on Jade seems like it's going to go dark.) Finally, Nightwing teams-up with the Peter David-era Supergirl, against some human traffickers.

A pretty inessential issue, then; but when they only run me a dollar or so, I'm pretty forgiving.
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Monday, October 19, 2015

Saturday Hastings had a sale, all used books $2.99--not graphic novels this time around, but I've picked over their selection already! Along with a couple Star Wars novels, I got the newest two Stephen King books, Finders Keepers and Revival. I'm not sure when either came out, and may have only read Mr. Mercedes and 11/22/1963 earlier this year, too. King will probably have another two books out by the time I finish these, and I read like a chainsaw...

Somewhat more germane to this blog, though, I did pick up a solid ten bucks worth of quarter books...over forty, yeah. Admittedly, some are replacing books I may have lost, or at least didn't have handy, because for a quarter why not? And here's one I love, even though that's not my favorite costume of his: from 1991, Quasar #19, "Refugees" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Keith Williams.

The story begins with a visit to the disembodied consciousness of the Eternal Kronos: some five thousand years ago, as he experimented to discover the secrets of the Eternals' life-force, he was blown apart, his molecules and mind expanding through the universe ever since. At this point, although possessed of vast cosmic power, he's also lost a bit of focus, as he explains to a visitor he meets; a being who seems to share Kronos's discorporeal existence. The visitor declines to give his name, saying only "beings jealous of my power forced me to hyper-enlarge myself," then letting Kronos go on. Kronos recounts his origin, and how he used to be a "benevolent god" to the Eternals on Titan, but has had a hard time caring anymore, even though he knows Thanos has returned and might be on his way to destroy the universe. Instead, Kronos spends most of his time trying to catch a glimpse of Infinity, one of the abstract entities of the Marvel Universe like Eternity. The nameless one realizes these abstracts might be able to back him, and resolves to make Thanos look like a piker: a bold statement, although he may want to work up some name recognition first.

Meanwhile, back on earth, Quasar is hanging out with the Squadron Supreme, who had been trapped in this dimension for some time. Doctor Strange makes a house call--oh, I'm sure he never gets tired of hearing that--to Project: Pegasus to try and help the Squadron get home. Strange is only able to get them halfway there, though, since he's getting pushback from their home dimension's Wizard Supreme. Now a jurisdictional issue, Strange is unable to help, and the disgruntled Squadron settle in. Elsewhere, Jack of Hearts gets probably his first splash page in years, as he tows several small ships to earth.

As Wendell Vaughn, Quasar visits his friends at his small security company, including bizarre new hire Miss Steckley, who disappeared for two weeks. Unknown to everyone, she saw behind Quasar's bookcase, where he keeps his cosmic mentor, Eon. Eon communicates telepathically with Ms. Steckley, who takes off her hair before taking a bath...! Quasar finally has a date with his secretary Kayla, who's really into him, but he keeps having to run off on emergencies. This time when one comes up, he just tells her, explaining his secret identity, and how he has to be on the lookout for an extraterrestrial threat to earth. "I'll take you flying, like in the Superman movie." Meeting Jack of Hearts at the edge of earth's atmosphere, Quasar asks him what's up with the ships, and a cranky Jack isn't the mood to talk about it. Against energy-based foes, Quasar usually used his quantum-bands to drain their power, but doing so nearly kills Jack and he lets up. Intending to get him to medical help, Quasar puts them both in a bubble, and Jack sucker-blasts him. Next, a helmeted figure Jack calls "Sergei" tells him to kill Quasar, so they can make their presence known to Eon...

If you had been reading Marvel Comics for some time, the nameless one, Ms. Steckley, and Sergei were all established characters; and you could have guessed them. I should've recognized the nameless one, since I actually had the issue where he had been discorporated! Ms. Steckley's reveal will leave you hitting your head "of course!" Sergei just isn't referred to by name here: he's the radiation-powered Russian villain the Presence, who is a total dick every time I see him even though he's usually accompanied by his girl. The second Red Guardian seems to have been attached to him just to mitigate his horribleness and is wasted there. By the way, we saw a little from Quasar #23 some time back: no spoilers, but things get much worse for Quasar before they get better!
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Friday, October 16, 2015

No scans yet, we'll see if I open everything...

Late today, since I went for a walk yesterday afternoon that kind of got away from me. But, I did pick up a batch of Funko's Game of Thrones figures! Man, I could've used those when I was doing Bastards of the Universe strips over at Poe's!

Tomorrow, Lego giveaway thing at Toys R Us for the Youngest; then Sunday I think I'm going to go see Evil Dead: the Musical! Now that I've said that, we'll see what happens. Best laid plans and all that...
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

This will make such a good episode, in the fourth season or so.

Wow, I think it's been a couple of years since I blogged an issue of Daredevil, and today we're covering one...two issues from the last one we checked out! From 1989, Daredevil #268, "Golden Rut" Written by Ann Nocenti, pencils by John Romita Jr, inks by Al Williamson.

After Typhoid Mary and Inferno (the crossover, not...somebody) nearly did him in, and after cheating on Karen Page and breaking her heart, Daredevil is in just slightly better shape than the last time we saw him, and has recently left New York. Walking the earth like a bum Caine in Kung Fu, Matt stops at a bed and breakfast in a small town...possibly because with his heightened senses, he can hear the couple within and their troubles. Possibly because they take up the bulk of the issue...

The husband, Raymo, has a nightmare, about his childhood dog, Queenie, who had to have a leg amputated: he worries that she never forgave him for that. His older brother Hank says she was just a dog, and it didn't matter. But Hank isn't the sort to feel a lot of sympathy, since he's a loan shark, and is trying to get Raymo to crack some skulls, break some legs, whatever he needs to do to collect from those deadbeats. Outside in a tree, Daredevil listens to the brothers' conversation, taking mental notes for later...

As Raymo broods about his upcoming "collection," DD pays Hank a visit, using his earlier words against him. Oh, and putting his head in a noose. After finding their "bank" is funded by the Kingpin--or at least jumping to that conclusion--Daredevil leaves him hanging, perched on a stool. Meanwhile, Raymo can't bring himself to beat a "client," and instead tells him he's quitting. The next day, Raymo's wife gets a call that Hank's "closing down the business" and leaving town for a while. Matt chides himself to "stop eavesdropping, it's so rude" as he heads down the road...

It would be over a year before Daredevil would return to New York City, although few of those stories were as down-to-earth as this one: most featured characters like Blackheart, Ultron, and the Inhumans. This issue's cover has DD holding the noose, and it's as solid as the interior. Get it.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"Mystery Machine."

Ah, set-up! Not a lot of jokes this week. But I've actually got strips scheduled through December right now--the concluding two episodes are also done, and I keep having to move them back! So, I've kinda wanted to do some other strips, maybe some centered on DC characters; but although I've bought some this year, my enthusiasm for DC is pretty low. I say that even though I bought a pile of Convergence comics--at four-for-one prices, but still.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I'm not sure you should throw dung under a truce flag...

Since I have HBO again for a bit, I'm in the middle of catching up on Game of Thrones: midway through season three, and I have a good feeling about how things are going to turn out! But I'm only able to catch an episode or two a week, which occasionally leaves me scratching my head for a moment as I try to remember what happened last time, or what episode I was on. Not unlike today's comic! From 1986, Conan the King #33, "Day of Wrath" Written by Don Kraar, pencils by Mike Docherty, inks by Art Nichols.

Prince Conn, Conan's son, is after the slippery Stygian spy Crassus, who is in the middle of kidnapping Conn's sister Radegund. Crassus has an ace in the hole, though: Conn's younger brother, Taurus! Sick of living in his brother's shadow, Taurus had taken to black magic, ended up with a goat's foot, and was willing to switch sides to spite his father and maybe get his foot back. Crassus escapes with them, and a disgruntled Conn is left to deal with the siege of Tarantia; which is still surrounded by the forces of Argos, Nemedia, and Ophir. Meanwhile, King Conan keeps his forces in line by setting an example at the smithy, then parleys with King Xanthus, who isn't going to face Conan in single combat when he has superior numbers.

The blind witch Zelata casts a spell for Conan, bringing rain that turns the plains to mud and slows the enemy advance, but also causes the rivers to rise to the point that Conan's forces may be flooded out. Using his blacksmiths as decoys to make the enemy think he was staying put, Conan moves his forces through the fog to join his son and the city's troops...

I know I read these as a kid, but I'm not sure I ever had a long run of them to read at a time--I lent out a lot that never came back! We saw the last issue a couple years back, but that was by Priest, not Kraar, and I'm not sure how many plotlines Kraar wrapped up. Also, in the last issue Taurus seems repentant, but here he's a troll-faced bastard who laughs as a farm family is murdered; I don't know if Kraar had redemption planned for him.
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Monday, October 12, 2015

J, J, J, is for Julie...

Because she appeared so early in Batman's history, the character Julie Madison still makes appearances every so often. She's described as Batman's first love interest, but she was really Bruce Wayne's, and in most versions doesn't seem to have known he was Batman. Still, Julie Madison remains a go-to name to signify a girl that could mean something to Batman, as in today's book: from 2003, Batman Adventures #5, "Shot to the Heart" Written by Dan Slott, pencils by Ty Templeton, inks by Terry Beatty.

Sleazy private eye Ricky Squib believes he's finally got his "million-dollar shot," photos of Gotham City's current mayor, the Penguin. Black Mask puts a hit on Squib for his new "client," and Deadshot takes the job. Meanwhile, Batman questions Eel O'Brian, who tries to change the subject from Batman's "vendetta" against Penguin, to the rising threat of Black Mask. But Batman has to leave early? What? He has a date, with Julie Madison! Bruce had been seeing her for six months, which he admits is as much as a record for him, and wanted to give her a piece of his mother's jewelry. Julie is thrilled, although she had thought Bruce was going to ask her about the Penguin--that vendetta may be real, then--but the date is derailed when Bruce gets a call from Harvey Bullock, who's currently being chased by Deadshot!

Bruce has to make an excuse to leave, so Julie has had enough, and tells Alfred she plans to leave town. As Batman races to save Bullock, Bullock explains that since the Penguin had him kicked off the GCPD he had been working as a private eye with Squib, who had been trying to blackmail Penguin, and got shot for it. Bullock had the pictures, and while the suitcase with them gets shot open, he's still able to gather them up as Batman beats Deadshot. When the cops get there, led by Captain Montoya, they are there more to get Batman than save Bullock; but Montoya asks if Bullock had actually seen the pictures: while racy, Penguin wasn't married, and as such the photos weren't particularly scandalous. (One cop even suggests the mayor would probably want copies for himself!)

Boarding a plane to Star City, Julie turns as a familiar voice calls her name, but it's not Bruce. In the pictures of the Penguin, there were several of him, with Julie Madison. She confesses that her boyfriend hated the Penguin, that it would've ruined everything, she had ordered the hit. (Which is rather short-sighted: even if she had succeeded and married Bruce, wouldn't the Penguin have blackmailed her then? Well, it never gets that far. And I realize now, Bullock never said Squib was blackmailing the Penguin, only that the photos were in his "Cobblepot file," leaving the reader to jump to the same conclusion as Bullock! Well done.) A grim Bats leaves her handcuffed to the stairs, as Julie bemoans losing her one chance at landing a billionaire. I was honestly surprised by that twist, as well as that the next page didn't picture Batman punching someone really, really hard. Instead, as "Matches" Malone, Bats sets up a meet with Black Mask; who himself is introducing his False Face Society to their new "head of eliminations," the Phantasm!

The rest of the issue includes "Liar Liar," a short tale of the inauspicious beginnings of Penguin's mayoral campaign and why he had Harvey Bullock fired at his earliest opportunity. (Written by Ty Templeton, pencils by Rick Burchett, inks by Terry Beatty.) I really need to see if this was collected anywhere...

Today's title is from the classic MTV program "Just Say Julie," the theme of which haunts me to this day.

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