Tuesday, October 17, 2017

That should put me off eating those. It totally doesn't.

I mentioned yesterday I was looking for "in-universe" comics: the comic books that would exist inside a fictional comic book universe. After that, I was searching Hostess parody ads: there were a few I remembered, like the Thunderbolts, Preacher, or Radioactive Man. (I found it on Google, but I posted it? Senile old goat...) But there were some I didn't recall or hadn't seen, like ones for Breaking Bad, Watchmen, and Nexus! But I didn't immediately see this one, from the back cover of 1990's What The--?! #7. Story and art by Marc Siry.

There are a couple bits this issue that still crack me up, including one I'm saving until later in the year--not the terrible Christmas carol parodies. Also, the Alpha Flight story is titled "Awful Flight," it should be "Awful Plight!" C'mon, it's right there! Geez! (Written by Marc McLauren, pencils by Donald Hudson, inks by Jeff Albrecht.)


Read more!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Back from vacation, so time to shape up and eat right, the Ben Grimm way!


Well, maybe. From 2000, Marvels Comics: Fantastic Four #1, written by Karl Kesel, art by Paul Smith, Carlos Pacheco, Tom Grummett, Joe Jusko; and above, Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel.

We saw the Spider-Man version years ago: this was from the "Marvels Comics" event, six issues set as what the comics would be like, within the Marvel Universe. (I was searching the other day for "comics within comics" and did not get especially fruitful results!) The FF book would, in-story, be licensed and theoretically feature some input from the Four: I imagine Reed gives detailed notes, while the Thing occasionally belches out the answer to a reader's question or something. The X-Men book was ugly anti-mutant propaganda, Spider-Man (and possibly Daredevil, I didn't read that one) were basically horror comics, and Thor imagines the title character as a science hero unrelated to anything mythological. I seem to recall Peter David wrote the Captain America one as if Rick Jones was writing it and Steve Rogers was the artist--a callback to Mark Gruenwald's run, where Cap freelanced on his own comic! It kind of goes off the rails, though.

This is a fun little issue, with really pretty art; and Kesel had more than a couple short bits with the Fantastic Four that showed he might not be a bad choice if and when the team returns. Hint, hint. I did think there was a Hostess parody ad in here somewhere though: it may be cliche, but still some fun. I did find one of those elsewhere; and we will have more FF in the next week or so.
Read more!

Friday, October 13, 2017


Hey, it's time for another exciting episode of young Bruce Wayne's hero, the Gray Ghost! (Takes closer look.) Wait a minute, that's not right at all! This is a very different Gray Ghost, from 2010's Jonah Hex #59, "Riders on the Storm" Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, art by Jordi Bernet. Ugh, Doors reference...

There had been more than a few Gray Ghosts in this series, and most of them didn't survive their first run-in with Hex; but it was a mantle taken by Confederates looking for revenge against their former comrades who they felt "betrayed the southland." After a few pages of catch-up and set-up, the scene shifts to a nondescript Western town, where Jonah Hex rides through--and past--a clumsy ambush: he sees the gunmen, but it's not for him. At the local cantina, he gets the story: an outlaw was going to take out his brother, over a woman. Jonah was there for the outlaw's bounty, and offers to throw in with the brother, but one small hitch: the wanted poster said 'alive.'

Although the outlaw is captured with a minimum of shootout, things get complicated immediately thereafter: a dust-storm blows into town, and the Gray Ghost rides in shooting. Multiple Gray Ghosts, in fact, four in matching masks; versus Hex with a tomahawk. The only one the Ghosts manage to kill, besides themselves, is the brother's woman, and that's by accident. The brother then tries to kill Hex, and while his gun jams, Hex had already thrown the tomahawk that would kill him. And the outlaw had escaped, leaving Hex surrounded by bodies, with nothing to show for it.

Although I found the Batman: the Animated Series Gray Ghost on Wikipedia easily, I didn't see any reference to the Confederate version. Just as well. It's a fitting name, but I don't know if I would've used it there, for fear of associating the good version with this one.
Read more!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Six or eight reboots, they might catch up to the Legion.


It's the nature of any science fiction story set in the future: after a few years of science marching on, it can start to look a bit dated. Computers and communicators and fashions start to seem clunky and antique. The alternative, I suppose, would be for the future to be in constant flux. Like today's book! From 2015, Guardians 3000 #5, "Just Like Old Times" Written by Dan Abnett, art by Gerardo Sandoval, color art by Edgar Delgado, cover by Alex Ross. (Oddly, I hadda scan that cover into the GCD; I'm always surprised when that happens.)

In the year 3014, the Guardians of the Galaxy are fighting a guerrilla war against the Brotherhood of the Badoon, a fight they had previously won! The timeline having reset, they may have fought that battle multiple times; as evidenced by their new team member Geena Drake, an earth girl who somehow sensed the temporal distortions. This issue, while in battle with the Stark--not the aliens that got Tony Stark's tech this time, as seen in the 90's Guardians book, now they were full-on robots--half the team is saved by Star-Lord. Who is still Peter Quill, but with his original helmet and Ship, in the future! Kinda cool. The other half is saved by the sudden return of a teammate they don't remember: Nikki Gold! Maybe they don't recognize her because she isn't rocking her usual flame-hair do, like she has on the cover. She also has the Captain America, or maybe a Captain America: it shares the name with the Guardians' original ship, but was a different model; underscoring for the heroes that the timeline was super garked up, to use the technical term. (Further evidenced in that Vance had Cap's shield and the star-logo communicators; both of which I think came in the 90's book, long after the Badoon were defeated.)

Hell, I'm pretty sure I have some of the rest of this series from when Hastings went down; and there are still a couple issues missing on the GCD as I write this! I want to say Marvel gave it a shot--the Ross covers are a bit more than the company has done for other titles--but it ran right into Secret Wars. I know there was some miniseries activity with the future Guardians team then, but not much now.
Read more!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Imagine lifting a piano over your head, while on a bike seat. Worse than that.

There's an old issue of Avengers that I've wanted to blog here for years, but maybe don't have any more, and haven't gone out of my way to buy it again yet: I think it's #305 or so, and the Lava Men have raised the Avengers' current headquarters, Hydrobase, high into the air on a pillar of rock...maybe. That's off memory; Hydrobase is perilously hanging up there, though. Wonder Man flies into action, keeping the massive structure from tipping to its doom: very dramatic, except...well, Wonder Man couldn't fly then, he used a belt-jet rig. You can check out a scan from the original Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe here, and while "control circuitry" is noted there, I'm not aware of any explanation as to how Wonder Man controlled or even steered those things, and that's not even my biggest issue with it: even if those little jets could have generated enough thrust to support Wonder Man's strength--which was upper echelon for Marvel, the 100+ tons range--the design of the belt's harness means all that thrust was basically lifting him by the crotch. Wonder Man was way tougher than you ever gave him credit for.

Anyway, here's another book with maybe those groin-destroying jets: from 1989, Avengers #303, "Reckoning!" Plot by Mark Gruenwald, script by Ralph Macchio, breakdowns by Rich Buckler, finishes by Tom Palmer. This was the conclusion of wow, a three-parter versus Super-Nova, an aggrieved (and giant) survivor of the planet Xandar, which had been destroyed by space pirate (and Thanos's alleged granddaughter) Nebula: he was trying to get information on her whereabouts for vengeance, but was generally being a dick about it. Here, when Hawkeye calls him on it, the archer is seemingly disintegrated! Nah, he's saved by Quasar; although Hawkeye is far too blustery to show any gratitude. Still, when the Fantastic Four arrives, the Thing at least is glad to see his old friend. Later, we see the Thing, She-Thing Sharon Ventura, and Wonder Man go at Super-Nova's feet: aw, Wonder Man mentions his jet belt getting smashed and now I'm all disappointed.

Before Super-Nova rage-explodes and destroys Chicago, then-Avenger Mr. Fantastic has Quasar give him a lift back to Four Freedoms Plaza to pick up Dr. Doom's time machine: Reed knew Nebula had been lost in the time-stream, and offers Super-Nova the chance to go after her, even if he didn't have a snowball's chance of finding her. And he wouldn't; Reed would see Nebula again first in Walt Simonson's superlative FF run, but I don't think Super-Nova ever appeared again. Heck, his planet Xandar has come back since then; and maybe been destroyed again too for that matter. (Looking it up, as Garthaan Saal he would return, and also appear in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie!) The issue ends with Reed getting congratulated for saving earth while Captain America gives him the stinkeye for not clearing his plan with him, a dumb subplot about the Avengers' chain of command that would last throughout Reed's short term with the team. Hmm, just noticed the Thing, who was then leading the FF, also gives Reed a glare. Team effort, guys, c'mon. Oddly enough for a guy that named himself "Mr. Fantastic," Reed really isn't the gloryhound type; so them being mad doesn't sit right.

I may be looking for cheap Avengers back issues as this posts. My wife tried to assure me Wonder Man's belt probably wasn't that uncomfortable, but then asked why his pants didn't catch fire from the jets. A good question, that I completely let slide...
Read more!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Over at Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep, with the recent reveal of Mr. Oz, Snell wonders "of DC's growing hatred of Krypton." It's been going on for a while and is somewhat troubling: Superman, raised by humans, turned out all right; Supergirl did the same with her cousin as an example. And just about every Kryptonian you meet besides them, ranges from inept and corrupt to genocidal madman, and that's not even counting the Phantom Zone villains. It's even more pronounced in movies and TV but certainly wasn't always the case: Kandor, while tiny, used to be cool; and even had it's own superheroes Nightwing and Flamebird. Then again, I'm not going to paint a rosy picture of a society that gave us this douchebag: from 1964, Adventure Comics #320, "Revenge of the Knave from Krypton!" Written by Jerry Siegel and Otto Binder, pencils by John Forte and George Papp, inks by Sheldon Moldoff, George Papp, and Al Plastino. (Reprinted in digest form in Best of DC #44, and that might even be a reprint of a reprint.) The story also reprints some material from Adventure Comics #287, "War of the Superboys" Written by Jerry Siegel, art by George Papp.

"Knave" is a rather outdated word, even for comics; I'm surprised they didn't go with "rogue" or even "scofflaw." Except alliteration, duh. "The Juvenile Delinquent from Krypton!" wouldn't exactly sing on the page either, but that's Dev-Em in a nutshell. Living next-door to the El's before Krypton exploded, Dev-Em was a troublemaking, thieving vandal who had his parents snowed into thinking he was a genius, by stealing inventions and passing them off as his own for a laugh. (I guess your parents might go easier on you if they think you're a genius, maybe.) Dev even babysat a young Kal-El, who we see playing with Krypto, and they catch the knave later breaking into Jor-El's lab. Jor-El gives him the boot, but doesn't report him to the Science Police or his parents out of respect for said parents: Kryptonian privilege. Still, Dev-Em had seen that Krypton was going to explode, and decides to save himself and his family, which puts him two up on Jor-El.

Years later, Dev-Em's makeshift spaceship lands in Smallville--like 90% of everything from Krypton. Waking up with super-powers (and leaving his folks sleeping in suspended animation) he wastes no time utterly destroying Superboy's life; banishing him to the Phantom Zone, then disguising himself as S-B and going on a rampage. (Dev-Em seems to stop just shy of murdering anyone, probably because this isn't a modern DC story...) Afterwards, when humanity hates Superboy, Dev-Em releases him from the Zone, knowing that would be unbearable torment to the Teen of Steel; then promptly pisses off to the future, sleeping parents in tow. There really isn't any reason given why he should go to the future, except then he could show up in a Legion of Super-Heroes story. Superboy is up a creek, until supporting character MVP Chief Parker tells the public it was red Kryptonite that made Superboy temporarily bad; knowing the real truth would be too hard to swallow.

Recapping Dev-Em's first appearance takes up about five pages in this one; but Superboy is surprised to catch Dev-Em in the future, breaking into the Legion's headquarters! A serious crime, which would normally get the perp turned over to the Inter-Stellar Counter-Intelligence Corps; except the ISCIC ICC gave Dev-Em that assignment! Now reformed since "wrong-doers always lose out!" Dev-Em had been working undercover, to break Molock the Merciless's Cosmic Spy Legion, all of which is fleshed out about as much as this paragraph. Yeah. Verifying Dev-Em's assignment, the ICC head asks Superboy to take over, as he was more experienced in counter-espionage. I was going to question that, but he had passed himself off as Clark Kent all those years, so I guess so. Supes takes the mission, wondering if he's undercutting his old enemy.

Disguising himself as Dev-Em, Superboy takes some Legion trinkets, to pass off as "security measures" to Molock. Molock double-crosses "Dev-Em" almost immediately, removing his powers with gold Kryptonite, which permanently removes a Kryptonian's powers! (Which I always thought was too much; not just because if it did, Lex Luthor would've gotten himself a grill of the stuff...) Except Super-Pet Proty, having read a warning in Dev-Em's mind, tagged along and subbed himself in for the gold-K, and Superboy wipes the floor with the Cosmic Spy Legion, which might just be four guys. Dev-Em is offered Legion membership (even though in theory, duplicate powers aren't allowed) but he declines. He would appear occasionally in Legion comics over the years, but only sparingly; of course there are post-Crisis, post Infinite Crisis versions that are more criminal or depraved than the original, but Dev-Em hasn't appeared post-New 52 yet. Considering how evil the average Kryptonian has been getting, that might be for the best. Worse, I'd be afraid they'd bring him back as "the Millennial from Krypton!" I don't know if he ever woke up his parents, either...

Read more!