Friday, March 30, 2012

Hey, Game of Thrones is back Sunday! Guess I should get HBO again...

HBO's Game of Thrones returns this Sunday, and while I'm looking forward to it...I might not get to see it for a couple weeks. My plan was, let a month or so worth of episodes build up, then re-subscribe to HBO, then turn it off after the last episode. (I've found myself watching True Blood before Thrones comes on, but I'm not into it enough to pay for it...)

But, I'll be honest: I'm feeling a little down today. It's been a long week, and while it's been unseasonably warm in some parts of the country, it has rained pretty much the whole week here. Work's been a slog, and the news, god, the news...I don't think I read a news story this week that didn't make me sadder and sadder. NYC Schools want to Ban 'Loaded Words.' Autism up 78%. Trayvon Martin's shooter still isn't facing charges. (I'm usually pro-gun, but it's pretty obvious you bastards can't be trusted with them.) The health-care hearings before the Supreme Court. (If the individual mandate fails, I kind of feel like maybe no one should get health care. Like, at all. Except maybe those religious nutjobs who don't believe it in medical treatment: they get full coverage, free. That way, no one's happy, and that's fair.) And the conservatives, and the Republican primaries...Even pink slime stories, which admittedly are a little funny.

So, usually when the news gets me down, I can turn to more entertaining racist Hunger Games fans, Michael Bay's Ninja Turtles, and ThunderCats is probably cancelled. Super.

Which is why today we're doing a mildly edited version of an old post: build your own papercraft Iron Throne! There's a new scan of another batch of swords, and it's a good way to kill time until the new episode. Instructions and nonsense after the break!

I enjoyed HBO's Game of Thrones, even though I have yet to read any of George R. R. Martin's books. (Well, not those, anyway; I read the Wild Cards books way back when.) And the other day, for some reason thrones came up at work, and I was thinking of the Iron Throne. If you've seen any promo pictures from the show, you've probably seen it:

No spoilers, especially since I'm going off memory here and haven't actually read it: before the start of the series, a king unified the land by conquering the hell out of it. As the old barons and nobles surrendered to him, the king took their swords, and had them melted into his throne. Which is kickass, if not particularly practical or comfortable--in-story, characters have mentioned getting cut just sitting on the damn thing. Which is a pretty good metaphor: fighting your way to the throne is hard enough, but you can't rest easy when keeping it is a pain in the ass to boot. Still, the Iron Throne does send a message; even if I figure it's like using your vanquished foe's skull for a goblet: symbolic, but not entirely functional.

(I also have no idea how medieval blacksmiths would've made that thing; although I do like the notion of a somewhat crazed king dumping a mountain of swords on them and screaming at them to make him a goddamn throne, right now.)
Since Conan has it on him, you can see his sword multiple times in there.
So, I had a hankering to build an Iron Throne. From years of collecting action figures, I had a big honking pile of swords. But, I didn't have enough for this, and even if I had, I wouldn't necessarily want to bend them up and glue them. So, we're working with the cheaper medium of paper! We're not going for an exact replica, more of a homage. Or a swipe, either or.
Crappy template!
First, you'll need a printer, glue and a gluestick, tape, comic backing boards, scissors, an x-acto knife, and probably a black sharpie. For my throne, I gathered up all the action figure swords I had handy, and experimented a little: the swords that were mostly flat worked better for this, and I scanned or copied several...I probably should've counted how many. Oops. Below is one of the scans I used; I just saved it to a flash drive, took it over to Kinkos (about a block from my house) and got a couple color copies, and a lot of black-and-whites. (Partly because the whole thing is going to be on the gray side anyway, and partly because I had no idea what I was doing.)

Using one of the backing boards, make a base. The front is vaguely trapezoidal, and as you can tell by the crappy template there, was drawn in about two minutes with a pencil and a Borders gift card with five cents on it. Slap one together and tape it up. (Or, if you go to a craft store, you could doubtless get a hunk of styrofoam or something in a shape you like, then go from there.)

Now, the swords. Here's a scan of some of the ones I used: I know there's Conan and the Devourer of Souls' swords, two from Ultimate Nightcrawler, and I think Loki's and Taskmaster's; all from Toy Biz. The Black Knight's Ebony Blade from Hasbro is in there, one from DCUC's Deathstroke, 200X Masters of the Universe He-Man and Teela's swords, and MOTUC's Vikor as well. from an old Witchblade toy, Excalibur from that Merlin figure I got a while back; and some more I don't really recall. Mostly flat ones work best for this, OK?

EDIT: Here's some new swords! There's a couple from Marvel Legends BAF Ares and Valkyrie, both Swords of Omens from ThunderCats Classic Lion-O, Kyle Rayner and Deathstroke's swords from DCUC, and a couple more.

You're going to want most of them printed on just plain paper, but you'll want some either printed on card stock or glued to a backing board before you start. (You probably want the color ones on card stock.) Then, get cutting! And cutting. And cutting. Be careful with the crossguard, since it's really easy to bend them right off. How many do you need? Um...gee, I really should've been counting when I started this, but a lot.

Starting with the ones on plain paper, start gluing the swords to the base in layers. A lot of the swords in the Iron Throne are bent or melted then hammered into position, and I think the whole thing is just swords on top of more swords, so that's the effect you're going for. You will want a few of the swords on card stock for the sides: think of them as making the armrests. Really uncomfortable armrests. There are a couple swords in there that I glued to the backing board, then glued another cutout on the other side, so I could use it on the sides and it would look OK from front or back.

For the back, take a backing board, and if you used the template size, you want to cut out a piece about three gift cards high. The bottom third is going to be mostly behind the main section, but you'll want to overlap the swords on there.
On the backside, use a bunch of the black-and-white ones for the blades pointing up that remind me of lines from a child's drawing of the sun. The HBO version has well over a dozen on the back, but you can cram in as many as you think looks right, or can fit. Keep slapping them on, until you like the look of it. If any white areas don't look right to you, use the sharpie to black 'em out.
A couple of notes: Again, the flatter swords work best. You can see He-Man's sword in there, and it was a bear to try and cut out; but Skeletor's sword might not work at all. (I'm thinking the 200x version, there.) If you had a modicum of Photoshop skills and wanted to do this, it would probably be pretty easy to set up multiple versions of the swords you want to use on the same printout. A throne made out of He-Man's sword, or Lion-O's Sword of Omens, would look sharp. Ha. Ha.

Even though a lot of action figure swords are made out of plastic that should be in quotation marks, it would be mighty tough to actually get enough to build a plastic Iron Throne. For example, Ultimate Nightcrawler is an all right figure, comes with two swords, one double-bladed, both terrible; but even then you would need dozens. If you have the skills, you could take an impression of a sword you wanted to use, then cast it in wax. Keep in mind, we're already way out of my skill set here, but if you make a ton of wax swords, you could probably bend them enough to cobble them into shape. The other idea I had was to use metal snips, or some sort of sword-shaped cutter, to punch them out of tin or something...that seems like a good way to cut the hell of your fingers.

You might be wondering why Negative Man, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman are in the pictures, instead of a He-Man or Conan or something. The ones I have aren't poseable enough to sit on it! Or they have stiff fur loincloths or capes. That's why in all the Bastards of the Universe strips, it's usually Beta Ray Bill on the throne (from the Mephisto Marvel Select figure) and even then his cape makes that a little tricky.

If you build your own throne, let me know how it turns out, or leave a comment with a link!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Detective Comics #627!

Detective Comics #627, featuring stories from Bill Finger, Mike Friedrich, Marv Wolfman, and Alan Grant; and art by Bob Kane, Bob Brown, Jim Aparo, and Norm Breyfogle. The cover proudly proclaims it's the "Anniversary celebrating Batman's 600th Appearance in Detective Comics," the GCD notes "Mistakenly labeled 600th appearance of Batman anniversary issue. Actually 601st appearance in Detective Comics." I don't know if anyone noticed at the time...

I also don't know if I appreciated this issue when it first came out: starting with a reprint of Finger and Kane's "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" from Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27, then a reprint of a redone version from Detective #387. Then Wolfman and Aparo, and Grant and Breyfogle put their spin on it. So, it's basically the same story four times.

But, along with getting to see how it first began (and I know that was the first time I read it!) there are some interesting differences. The sixties version, for example, is the only one to feature Robin. Wolfman and Aparo's feature a more modern super villain with a more modern body count, although their Batman seems more saddened than the others, and there's a nod to the current continuity with Commissioner Gordon still recovering from his heart attack. Grant and Breyfogle play up themes they used in their Detective run: garbage, drugs, and the homeless. I didn't care for Breyfogle playing with a more Kane-modeled Bats for the denouement, but there's a spectacular "Batman busts-in" page and scattered through the story are shout-outs to dozens of past Bat-creators, like "Haney Security" or "Englehart Signs, Inc."

A good one, and I don't believe the second two versions have been reprinted to date. Since the renumbering, I don't know if it will anytime soon either, but I don't think it's overly hard to find. Get to it!
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012


If you wanted to make a Marvel Legends-scale Snake Eyes, buying Fantomex is 90% of your job done. Even though I've read a few issues of Uncanny X-Force with him lately, I still don't know a heck of a lot about him. Except that I'm pretty sure Pool (and possibly AoA Kurt) are probably at least a little jealous of his fancy E.V.A. thing, extra brains, powers, guns, French accent, and so on and so forth. And Fantomex probably rubs all of that in their faces...
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sure, it's a low opening bid, but Chronos is burying the costs in the shipping...

From Justice League Adventures #6, "Wolf's Clothing" Written by Dan Slott, pencils by Min S. Ku, inks by Dan Davis. In the JL animated continuity, Chronos the Time-Thief holds an auction with a unique prize: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, pulled from the timestream and frozen in a stolen moment. Of course, when the bidders include the Flash's Rouges Gallery, the Royal Flush Gang, a ton of Batman villains and more; it turns violent after about three bids.

Chronos restores order by indignantly pointing out if a stray shot hits his equipment, the heroes will be free to beat the hell out of them. He declares a break for everyone to calm down, and to clear anyone knocked out off the field. Meanwhile, Mr. Freeze confronts Captain Cold, accusing him of stealing the design of his cold gun.

Unfortunately for Freeze, Gotham's criminals don't have the camaraderie of Central City's, and Freeze is reduced to just a head. Meanwhile, the Riddler tries to get his compatriots to simply rob Chronos; but hadn't counted on the Royal Flush Gang working security, or the interference of the Parasite. When the auction starts again, Metallo jumps the gun and tries to kill Superman with a kryptonite blast. Chronos says since they're frozen in a moment, that won't work. Catwoman then considers taking Batman's cowl back for a peek, and Chronos says breaking the plane of the stasis field would break it, and they'd be free. Then, the Brotherhood of Evil's Brain points out several villains have disappeared, and the Justice League has to be there in disguise...

Darn, I don't have a full run of Justice League Adventures, but the issues I have were all pretty good. For an "all-ages" book, this is good for everyone, with some twists you probably won't guess.
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Monday, March 26, 2012

And the time Blue Beetle sunk a sub. All hands were lost.

We looked at the last issue of DC's first Blue Beetle a while back; and although it wasn't terrible, the book always seemed to be a bit bogged down in subplots. But today's story from Steve Ditko, scripter Gary Friedrich, and Captain Atom #85 flies by in comparison, partly because it only has seven pages to work with.

In fact, a running subplot is given about two panels: Ted Kord is still under investigation for the disappearance of Dan Garrett (the original Blue Beetle) on Pago Island. While the cops have nothing, with them sniffing around Ted considers benching his secret identity...for about two seconds, when he hears a radio report of a hijacked jet, and takes off in the Bug.

The pilots seem willing to crash rather than let an "enemy agent" get away, and since they don't think he'd let them live anyway. Blue Beetle uses the Bug to save the jet from crashing into the ocean, then to get it out of range of an enemy submarine's deck gun. With the agent escaping in the sub, the Bug persues, and Beetle takes out the sub's screws with an underwater bazooka. While Blue Beetle is fighting enemy divers and an octopus (!) the sub attempts to steer away, but with the damage already taken it hits a rock, takes water, and goes down. By this point, there's only a couple panels left, but Ted doesn't seem especially concerned with the loss of life.

I'm not positive, but there might be more action in these seven pages, than Blue Beetle's entire DC run...
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Unheard of! Unheralded! An upset in the...unlikely. So unlikely.

Comics Should Be Good's DC/Marvel Comic Character Tournament continues, and Nightcrawler is in the finals of the Gotham City region!

Nightcrawler's beat Rogue, Hal Jordan, and the Joker; but he's up against Batman this time. You can go vote, and make an upset happen! Yeah, that's long odds.
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Friday, March 23, 2012

It's like a clip-show episode, but you hadn't seen all those anyway:

Darn, I have three of the four issues of this one: the 1984 limited series America vs. the Justice Society. Written by Roy Thomas, with Dann Thomas co-plotting and art by Mike Hernandez and Alfredo Alcala. (Howard Bender pencilled the last two issues, with Alcala on inks.)

Back before the Crisis, Earth-2's heroes face a congressional committee investigating the "Batman diaries." Supposedly written by Batman before his death, it implicates the entire JSA for treason, as spies for Nazi Germany. With Helena (Huntress) Wayne serving as counsel for the defense, and Dick Grayson as prosecution; the JSA counters the diaries by trying to recap events from old, old issues.

There is a pretty good checklist on the inside covers, and I'd have to guess a lot of those issues still haven't been reprinted. And you'd have to track down appearances in Adventure Comics, Showcase, Infinity, Inc. and only Roy Thomas knows what else. So, the clip-show nature of the series isn't a bad thing. Except every so often, it gets into the JSA pointing out little things, like that Batman wasn't involved in a good deal of the stories in question. And even with the Spectre showing up to try and scowl down the committee, and surprise witnesses like the Wizard, it's still four issues of courtroom shenanigans.
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant 2010!

This one has been sitting by my computer for some time now: JSA 80-Page Giant 2010, featuring stories from Marc Andreyko, Brandon Jerwa, Freddie Williams II, and more; with art by Leandro Fernandez, Jesus Merino, Victor Ibanez, and more. Bill Sienkiewicz inks Mike Norton's pencils in the first story, but a lot of the artists ink and even color themselves in this one.

I had a hard time working up to this one, since I spent a lot of time wondering if there is any consensus between what JSA fans and what JSA writers want. As a book, should JSA be all about the old guard--Alan, Jay, Carter, Ted, and so forth? Should it be a period book? Or should it be about the old guard's interaction with new, young heroes like Power Girl or Stargirl? Of course, those two have been with the team so long they're not the rookies anymore; which means bringing in a new batch of newbies, but the old guys never leave, so the team roster gets more and more unruly.

So, this issue features Obsidian recapping his origin as part of a petition to adopt a child; Jesse Quick versus a mind-controlling abusive husband, Mr. Terrific finds the man that killed his wife, Cyclone discovers a new power that tells her more than she wants to hear, Sand tries to make his vision of shooting a cop not come true, the Wildcats bond after fighting the aged King Inferno, and Dr. Fate blames himself for losing a patient. I kinda liked the Cyclone one, actually; and if you're a fan of a particular character, it's always nice to see them get the spotlight, but there's nothing earth-shaking in this one.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Secret X-Force."

The only thing that could've made this more awkward for Logan and Steve would've been if they had also run into Spider-Man with the Fantastic Four. But then, Spidey's membership there isn't a secret, and the FF doesn't usually go in guns blazing, either.

While it bugged me the other day that the new Steve Rogers Marvel Legend towers over my default Cap from series 1; I like having both of them. It's like having the option for sentinel of liberty, upstanding role model superhero Cap; and black-ops secret mission Steve. Sometimes, Steve has to take off the uniform to do things...well, maybe. Maybe 'grey-ops' would be a better way to put it, since even out of uniform he's still Cap, and even if he has to shoot bad guys sometimes, I don't see him going in like Wolvie or Deadpool.

I am currently reading Uncanny X-Force at least occasionally. It hasn't quite blown my socks off yet, although it has moments I enjoy. I also don't really care about Fantomex, even though I'll be buying his figure at some point, and kind of know how I'll be writing him for more X-Force bits. But that and the odd issue of Deadpool are the only Marvel books I'm buying new: both Legion of Monsters and Warren Ellis's Secret Avengers run wrapped, so that's two less...
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Hodge and the Podge:

A small pile of recent stuff, most of which I haven't had a chance to so much as glance at.

First, Hasbro's second wave of the returned Marvel Legends new Captain America, or Bucky-Cap as I call him. I know I've read a fair amount of comics with him, but I feel vague on the details off the top of my head. With Steve Rogers supposedly dead (but actually launched through time or something...) Bucky Barnes took the mantle of Captain America, and did a pretty good job of it even though it was pretty obvious this wasn't supposed to be a permanent change. But the changeback seemed to come right when a lot of readers were really warming to Bucky...

As a figure, Bucky-Cap is pretty good, but the shoulders' forward articulation seemed just a hair short. Maybe? Maybe I just need to play with him some more and see if I warm to him a bit more. We'll see him again before long, so don't worry. I'm a little worried that the recent Steve Rogers figure seems even more huge now--I had my old ML1 Captain America with him, and he's way taller--and that the upcoming USAgent would have to be even bigger to look right, causing more scale creep. Ah, I don't think that'll bug me for too long.

Also recently, picked up some cheap DVD's, that I have yet to even attempt watching. DC's animated Wonder Woman and Batman: Under the Red Hood. The latter on Blu-Ray, only like the third one I've bought since winning a Blu-Ray player like a year and change ago. And a replacement copy of the Simpsons Movie, which my Youngest stole and is not giving back; and a twenty-five cent spare of Bruce Campbell's Man with the Screaming Brain. Yeah, I already have it, but it was a quarter, and I wasn't about to leave it...

Then, some trades, all under four bucks a piece: hardcovers of Incredible Hercules: Love and War and War Machine: Iron Heart; and paperbacks the Zombie: Simon Garth, Hellstorm: Son of Satan--Equinox, Excalibur Classic Cross-Time Caper volume 2 (that one I actually had the issues of). And I got Robert Kirkman's Destroyer a week or two back: it was OK. Good grief, I think I've forgotten a couple, and I know I passed on a Terror, Inc. one that I probably could pick up later.

Well, it's never a bad idea to stock up, I suppose. And I have a long weekend coming up, so maybe I'll get through some of them.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

There's really only one way to vote, here.

Comics Should Be Good is holding their fourth annual DC/Marvel Character Tournament, and in the second round of the Gotham City bracket Nightcrawler faces Hal Jordan! There is, of course, only one choice.

Vote Nightcrawler, of course. If you vote tonight or I think tomorrow, you can push Kurt through to the next round! Ooh, some readers are not going to like this one...
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Tell me this is in the new Ghost Rider movie.

Ghost Rider messes with some armored car robbers, in Ghost Rider #42, "The Lonesome Death of Johnny Blaze!" Written by Mike Fleisher, art by Don Perlin. The robber in the back is momentarily elated that they've seemingly ditched the flaming biker, before noticing that it's suddenly a lot warmer in there...

The title is a misnomer, in more ways than one: while the Ghost Rider is seemingly fine and spending his nights after the above gang of robbers; Johnny Blaze is suffering a bout of amnesia, and is currently going by the name Frank Ryder. He's fallen in with some racers, including the lovely Gina, whom "Frank" rescues from a flaming wreck, earning him no points with Carl, who planned on marrying Gina for her dad's money. Carl challenges "Frank" to a Formula-1 race, loser has to leave town; and during the race runs him off the road. To "protect his investment" in Gina, Carl clonks "Frank" on the head with a crowbar; but the sight of the crowbar triggers a flashback, returning Johnny's memory.
Johnny was assaulted by Laurel and Hardy?  Seems plausible...
Carl pushes Johnny's car over a cliff located conveniently next to the track, but Johnny is able to turn into Ghost Rider in time to survive the wreck. I have to wonder if the Ghost Rider ever does the same: "Well, it looks like I'm gonna die...better switch back to Blaze, then..." Ghost Rider doesn't even deliver the usual hellfire boot in the ass to Carl: Gina immediately realizes what Carl's done, and calls the cops. The Ghost Rider, unseen, takes off after the robbers he was chasing earlier--having missed the previous issue, I'm not sure why. Maybe they cut him off in traffic, or GR took offense at a Jesus-fish bumper sticker or something. Later, Johnny realizes he can't remember several days and may never get them back, while Gina mourns the missing "Frank." And in "The Lonesome Death of Johnny Blaze," Johnny didn't die in any sense, Frank Ryder did. I'd demand a refund, if I hadn't paid a quarter for this issue and still kinda liked it anyway.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

OK, this week's month's comics:

Although I bought some cheap trades and some ninety-nine cent Deadpool Corps and MAX issues; I hadn't picked up the bulk of my comics for the better part of a month. Which you probably guessed by the title. And it was a little gloomy, since there were two second-to-last issues and the end of a mini-series. We aren't going to do a lot of scans this time around, since I'm doing this on the fly, but let's take a quick look.

First, Static #7 was a bit more together than the previous issues, but still felt like too little and too late. On the other hand, O.M.A.C. #7 felt like there was a lot of gas left in the tank; as DiDio and Giffen channel a ton of Kirby and have Superman guest-star for a whopping four pages before going into a straight-up Kamandi tribute. And My Greatest Adventure #6 wraps the series with Robotman, Garbage Man, and Tenga not getting anything they want. Seriously, at all.

Demon Knights is the only DC book I've been reading that'll be around in a couple of months, but as the first storyline wraps I'm not sure if I want to stick with it or not. It's not bad, but the siege seemed to run a little long, and the outcome was a bit of a given. (A seeming traitor wasn't maybe, a character aged to near death is back, and they totally had to destroy that village to save it.)

On the other hand, the end of the Lobster Johnson story in Dark Horse Presents #9 is likewise a given, but it's executed better in less pages. I might have to write up this issue for a much-later 80-Page Thursday; but suffice to say I'm enjoying DHP a lot...but not as much as I theoretically could. Future issues are going to have Nexus, Ghost, and Evan Dorkin; and I selfishly want them all in the same issue. Every month.

There was also Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #3, which was terrifying and awesome. Tying into an old B.P.R.D. villain; this issue a mobster's new hires burn down a few buildings and fight the Lobster, but they are more than the mobster realizes. Much more. The mobster should have a lot more fear at this point than he does. Artist Tonci Zonjic is killing it, too.

Lastly, the conclusion of Atomic Robo & the Ghost of Station X wraps that series up nicely, although I think I missed an issue. Gotta get back on that. And I picked up the reprint of Adventure Time #1 for the Youngest, but haven't read it yet. Man, that's a bit light for a month; and I'm sure I missed or forgot to mention some stuff, but we'll get to that as it turns up.
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