Monday, December 11, 2017

Deadpool in space! This is not a drill!


So we've been dicking around with our Deadpool in space storyline "The Stars My Aggravation for, um, well over three and a half years now. We've been at it so long, Deadpool's actually gone back into space in the comics again! From 2017, Rocket #4, "The Blue River Score, part 4: Dirty Money" Written by Al Ewing, art by Adam Gorham.

Rocket Raccoon has found himself in a jam: framed by an ex, he's now the subject of a "perpetual warrant," which the bounty hunting Technet (from classic Excalibur comics) is putting to good use: they've actually busted him out a couple times, to cash in on "capturing" him again. But Rocket has some new help: Deadpool! What's he doing in space? Well, post-Secret Empire, he's not in a good place...

Pool suggests buying off the Technet, and for that much money, Rocket can't hit a legit business, or his bounty would go up, so they'll have to hit the mob. Specifically, mob boss Cordyceps Jones. (The name is a clue!) While the heist goes off without a hitch, afterwards Rocket grudgingly realizes Pool is hurting, but Pool doesn't reach out for help, because he doesn't feel like he deserves it. (And in his own book, I think Pool would go "screw it, I'm a villain now.") Rocket pays off the Technet; in fact, he goes a step further and hires them. The Technet are way more competent here than I'd ever seen them, and in the next couple issues Ewing actually makes you sympathize with Gatecrasher, if you can believe it. And while he's working within the current plot for him, Ewing's Deadpool is on point.

This was part of a big ol' box I got from Forbidden Planet, including another surprisingly glum Rocket Raccoon book, the trade for Grounded. Even with Kraven the Hunter and his glorious van (a joke I thought originated in Squirrel Girl) or more accurately, because of them; Rocket has a miserable time trapped on earth. Lot of jokes, sure; but still kind of a downer.
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Friday, December 08, 2017


We'll close out the week with one more book with a shiny foil cover: from 1993, Darkhawk #25, "Return to Forever Part Five: Death and Life" Written by Danny Fingeroth, pencils by Mike Manley, inks by Mike Manley and Aaron McClellan.

The cover proclaims "The Mind-Blowing Origin Finale!" Maybe a bit over-hyped, and I think it's been retconned or revamped a bit to boot. Teenager Chris Powell had discovered a mysterious amulet, which allowed him to become the mysterious Darkhawk. Sort of: if you're old enough, perhaps you recall this 1993 trading card:

Over the course of his book's first two years, Chris came to realize he was trading places with Darkhawk, which was actually some kind of android he controlled with his mind somehow. But he had no idea where the amulet or Darkhawk come from, or where he went when they switched, until now. And it's not the simplest possible explanation--well, maybe not anyway. It involves an alien criminal's conspiracy to collect a bunch of scientists to extort or bribe them into building him "expendable--yet repairable--agents." The scientists put together teleportation, weaponized androids, extra-dimensional storage, telepathic control and more into the Darkhawks, then realize they can't let the crime boss get them. The ensuing rebellion ends up with the crime boss trapped in an android that would later take the name Evilhawk, and one of the scientists mind-transferred to the extra-dimensional ship. (The latter, all the better to deliver exposition to Chris!)

To explain how a Darkhawk amulet got to earth in the first place, there's also a telepathy-broadcast subplot, involving two homeless guys that had been following Chris's progress: they had been scientists before that. It's pretty convoluted! And it's mostly wrapped up pretty quickly in a fight on the extra-dimensional ship, as Evilhawk tries to take Chris's human body, but he manages to resist enough to grab his amulet, change places back into Darkhawk, then reflect Evilhawk's disintegration ray back, seemingly killing him. Again, pretty quick after all that backstory, but this had been building up for two years! Still, I know there's a "Brotherhood of Raptors" now, so at least some of this may have been altered since. There's also multiple subplots still running as well: I think Chris is expelled from school and his house burns down. Can't have a clean win, huh?

I almost put this away and missed the Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation here: Paid circulation, actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 181,750. Not too shabby, for what I would've considered a mid-tier book!

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

This is the last chapter of the crossover, but you didn't have to read the whole thing anyway...


So I've mentioned the Phalanx a couple times on the blog, as Marvel's knockoff of the Borg; but there was more to them than that. Um...er...gimme a minute. From 1994, Excalibur #82, "Life Signs Part Three: The Light of a Tainted Dawn" Plot by Scott Lobdell, script by Todd Dezago, pencils by Ken Lashley and Steve Epting, inks by Philip Moy, W. C. Carani, John Floyd, Harry Candelario, and John Livesay. I have the shiny cover one sitting next to me, although it's just a strip of shiny that's supposed to look like circuitry, for an extra buck!

This was the final chapter of "The Phalanx Covenant" crossover, or one of them: it was split into three plotlines. You could read the whole thing, or follow Banshee and the kids who would become Generation X; Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey trying to rescue the captured X-Men; or the rest. X-Factor, X-Force, and Excalibur were trying to stop the Phalanx from building a spire that would...do something. I had thought the Phalanx were just straight aliens, but reading up on them I think these batch included humans who used Technarch tech (like the New Mutants' Warlock) in an attempt to kill mutants, that went a bit south on them. It was part of that X-Factor storyline that retconned Warren's friend Cameron Hodge into a villain, to try to backfill why the original X-Men would've thought it was a good idea to pose as mutant hunters...

Forge becomes a key part of the Phalanx's plan, since their leader, the hooded and weird Shinar, co-opts his mutant power of making stuff: the Phalanx tech has Forge virtually hypnotized to play with it. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler leads a strike team against the spire, since he reasons the "logical and rational" Phalanx wouldn't be able to cope with an illogical and surprising attack. As Douglock tries to sacrifice himself to save Cannonball and Wolfsbane, Kurt gets to Forge, and he manages to resist and not fix the Phalanx's endgame.

While it's neat to see Kurt leading the conclusion of a crossover like this...it's not great. Lashley and Epting have done tons better work than this, and the whole crossover feels like diminishing returns from Marvel chasing that Age of Apocalypse high--no, I take that back: this pre-dated AoA by a year or so! Huh. I should've known that, since Generation X was part of AoA, and it featured Blink, who died during this crossover.

So far this week I think this is the third book with a fancy 90's cover, I think I might be able to find one more...
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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

"Attack."


Arse, someone else came up with "that piece of the Time Stone" bit, in an actual recent Thanos comic! Well, bound to happen.

It's subtle, but I like that seeing Kurt's action figure reminded Pool to do the right thing, even though Kurt himself was unconscious on the floor behind him. Oh, and they said the thing!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Is Frankenstein the doctor, or is the monster named Frankenstein too? Actually, he's named after the guy whose brain we used for this...


I guess that would make him "Abby Normal," then; but we've got a similar situation today with Dr. Necker and her monster--monsters. From 1993, Death³ #1, "Prometheus Unhinged" Written by Dan Abnett, pencils by Dell Barras.

Set in the far-off future of 2021, former A.I.M. scientist Dr. Necker (who, in typical comic fashion, is a stacked redhead that strongly resembles 90's Jean Grey) is preparing for her new job at the Omni Mega-Corporation, which honestly sounds more evil. Necker was on the outs with A.I.M, since he had spent six years working on Project: Minion--no, not those guys! The robot that would eventually become Death's Head II--and her branch of A.I.M. was largely destroyed by Charnel. Still, she gets a somewhat more welcome visitor here: the cyborg called Death Wreck, her prototype killer robot, who was somehow found its way back to her.

Back in the far-off future of 2018, Necker had cobbled together her starter 'bot out of copier parts and whatever else she had lying around, then uses the voice-controlled automaton to kidnap a hobo and harvest his brain to put in the robot. While successful, it wasn't exactly a quality brain, and may in fact be such a hardened alcoholic that it didn't quite grasp what had happened to it. Still, for Necker it's an opportunity to restart her Minion program, with the hope of building herself a better bodyguard. To test how time-travel may have damaged Death Wreck, she sends it on a three-minute random time jump...I'm not sure how that would help, exactly, except maybe by seeing what happens in a more controlled environment. Appearing in a crappy, Terminator-like future, Death Wreck is attacked by liquid metal-like robots. Returning to 2021 after the three minutes, DW had one of the robot's arms; and Necker is immediately taken with it. Smitten, almost.

Experimenting with the "sentient" metal she names Prometheum, in about a month Necker builds a new robot, Death Metal. Who promptly tells her to cram it, steals a time-jumper, and splits, accidentally taking Death Wreck with him! To another 2021--possibly not the same one Death Wreck visited--where Death Metal is found by post-apocalyptic scavengers...led by Doctor Octopus! Although Death's Head II appears on the shiny, embossed cover; he is yet to show up here. But it's tough sledding, since so far the most likable character is the alcoholic robot, and he's way less fun than Bender or Machine Man.
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Monday, December 04, 2017

I'm hoping your local comic shop didn't have to eat a ton of these...


Ah, 1993: a long comics boom, fueled by speculators and unwisely extended lines of credit, was about to catch fire and auger in. But this book probably had better sales than most today...I say, based on not much! It wasn't on Comichron's 1993 sales chart, but it had a shiny cover, which may or may not have gotten them anywhere. From 1993, Dark Guard #1, "Tour of Duty" Written by Dan Abnett, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Oscar Jimenez.

If you had been reading Marvel UK for a while, this book would've been your Avengers, bringing all your favorites together under one cover: Death's Head II! Motormouth and Killpower! Dark Angel! And the rest! Some of whom don't even survive the issue, although not in a dramatic, heroic sacrifice, but by opening an airlock when attempting to leave in a tizzy.

Wikipedia cites this as the book that broke Carlos Pacheco in America, and for that early in his career it's polished stuff! And we've seen Dan Abnett's work on the blog a number of times, usually with more recognizable characters. Actually, I did like Motormouth (early Gary Frank art!) before Killpower kinda took her book over. Come to think of it, the big menace the Dark Guard are brought together to fight, evil organization Mys-Tech, were the bad guys in her first issue too. I have zero recollection of what they were up to. Maybe if they had been used in a non-UK book; which would've made them seem big and badder, and hyped up the UK stuff. Hell, they could still be around, for all I know. Maybe they won...
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Friday, December 01, 2017

The cover's new to me...


...since my original has probably been coverless for twenty years or more; so I'll always grab a cheap copy when I can. From 1980, Star Wars #31, "Return to Tatooine!" Written (and edited) by Archie Goodwin, breakdowns by Carmine Infantino, inks by Bob Wiacek.

This comic may be dated, off-model, or cheesy to some; but to me it's as Star Wars as you can get! Besides, by 1980, although Empire would've still been a few months away, Marvel's adaptation was getting more and more authentic. Here, we've got references to a deleted scene that would've been rarely seen, if at all, at the time; and an appearance from a vehicle made for the toy aisles, the Imperial Troop Transport.

On a mission to recruit blockade runners for the Rebel Alliance, Luke returns to his home planet Tatooine, with Artoo and Threepio. At the demolished home of his late Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, Luke discovers vaporator equipment still working; having been maintained by two of his childhood friends, Fixer and Camie. (Their scene had been deleted from the film, but was referenced in the novel and the comic adaptation.) They had thought Luke, the boy they called "Wormie," had been killed with his family, by Tusken Raiders. Luke isn't interested in reclaiming the family farm, though; and then leaves after Threepio warns him about an Imperial Troop Carrier in the area. But those Stormtroopers aren't looking for him, or even just on patrol: they're after an escaped bantha...which Luke finds in a canyon, frozen to death, under Tatooine's twin suns!

Returning to the Mos Eisley cantina, Luke does find two experienced blockade runners: Han and Chewbacca, who he last saw in issue #23! Their reunion is cut short by a guilty Fixer, who tries to warn Luke that he and Camie had reported him to the fuzz--or rather, the Stormtroopers! Luke, Han, and Chewbacca shoot their way out fairly easily, then blaze out of town on Luke's landspeeder...which a trooper notices, was hit, and is leaking coolant...

The same week I bought this issue from the dollar bin, I also bought it in the Dark Horse reprint volume Star Wars: A Long Time Ago volume 2: Dark Encounters. Which I actually already had. I'm not sure if I'll return it to the store, since I could see myself just buying it again the next time I see it...
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Admittedly, it's not a name that rolls off the tongue.


When I found these in the dollar bin, I thought they were just another attempt to cash in on the sword-and-sorcery, barbarian comics of the seventies. Or a clever way to burn off some Conan the Barbarian fill-in issues, by changing some of the names, hair color, etc. Imagine my surprise at finding out this guy could've been Conan!

From 1973, Creatures on the Loose #23, "Where Broods the Demon!" Written by George Effinger, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; Creatures on the Loose #24, "Red Swords, Black Wings!" Written by George Alec Effinger, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; Creatures on the Loose #25, "The Wizard of Lemuria!" Written by George Effinger and Tony Isabella, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; and from 1974, Creatures on the Loose #27, "In the Crypts of Yamath!" Written by Gardner Fox, pencils by Val Mayerick, inks by Vicente Alcazar.

Per the Wikipedia page for Conan comics, Roy Thomas mentions thinking Marvel wouldn't be able to get the rights for Conan, so he was trying to get Lin Carter's character Thongor instead. When they hit a delay with Carter's agent, Thomas went after Conan again, and this time got him. He mentions that he offered more than was approved for Conan, so then the book's first choice of artists, John Buscema, was priced out; and they had to go with a more budget choice: Barry Windsor-Smith! It becomes a "What If" scenario: if Thongor had been published first instead of Conan, would it have been drawn by Buscema? Would Thomas have still written it, and would it have taken off?

That's actually a bit more interesting to think about than these actual comics, really. And I've mentioned before, when looking at some Warlord issues he inked, that I usually didn't have a problem with Vince Colletta, but his issues seem less polished than #27 with Vicente Alcazar inks. (Or maybe Mayerick's art was coming together, but I think the former.) Thongor himself seems fairly Conan-like, although a bit more willing to associate with wizards; and his world had at least some airships that would be reminiscent of John Carter of Mars. His epithets aren't as well-formed as Conan's either; since he calls out to the nineteen gods, the "seven gods of Zangabal!" his sire "Thumitar," and "Gorm!" all in the space of a single issue!

I hadn't seen these comics before, but I had read the title before and after this! Some years back, we looked at Creatures on the Loose #21 with John Carter precursor Gullivar Jones. Thongor would continue until Creatures on the Loose #29, then the title would be taken over by Man-Wolf.
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Destroy."


The Badoon are awful lizardy things, worse than the skin-covered Nazi analogs from V or our pal the Gorn from Star Trek; but they did have a largish robot called "The Monster of Badoon!" that they trotted out every so often. I'm almost sure we see one in Silver Surfer #2, where their invisible invasion is thwarted by the Surfer while he pisses and moans about being stuck on earth. Hey, I'm none too keen on it either, but do you hear me complaining? ...you do? Constantly? All right, then.

The Badoon also appear in X-Men Annual #5, although I can't in good conscience recommend a book with a title like "Ou, La La--Badoon!" The Fantastic Four and Arkon guest star as well, but that issue may be best remembered for Nightcrawler trying to explain "Thou shalt not kill" to Wolverine. It's a little preachy and doesn't land and no one cares since the Badoon are mean, horrible monsters. Does that make it OK to wipe them out? When they're invading, maybe...


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Like having the same fever dream twice.


Maybe more than that, since I think I have another reprint of this one! Originally from 1969's Brave and the Bold #82, today's scans are from Best of the Brave and the Bold #3, but I also had the black-and-white reprint volume Batman: the Frightened City! "The Sleepwalker from the Sea!" Written by Bob Haney, art by Neal Adams. So I know I've read it more than once, and it still barely makes any sense.

To begin, Batman sees a man following a girl on the Gotham waterfront, when the girl leaps into a pickup car, and the man is shot with a speargun by a man in full scuba gear! The car swings back to get something the diver takes off the man, and while Batman is able to get the driver to swerve into a pole, he's then stopped by a super-strong blond man, then shot in the shoulder by the scuba diver. Falling into the ocean, Bats is saved by the blond man, who he thinks was Aquaman, even if he's not sure later. While getting medical attention and reviewing with Commissioner Gordon, Batman retrieves a golden medallion of a kraken from the murdered man...even though we saw it stolen earlier, how did it get there? I've read these first five pages a dozen times now, did I miss something? Well, it's not important, Bruce has a date!

Actually, two dates: Bruce breaks one with redhead Honor, to go out with model Ailsa: he's pretty sold on her, but may be barking up the wrong tree, since she's only interested in Bruce's investment in the waterfront project. She also has another one of those kraken medallions, then pulls a gun on Bruce when confronted, and judo throws him off a balcony! Bruce manages to save himself, then follows Ailsa to her boss, and lover, "millionaire ship fleet owner" Orm Marius. Orm, Orm...who do we know named Orm, besides no one ever? Oh yeah, the Ocean Master! Ailsa had painted a nice portrait of him, in full costume, which Orm has to take a knife to because she apparently didn't grasp the concept of "secret identity." Bruce confronts Orm and Ailsa, and while Orm knows Bruce can't prove squat, he still sics his zombie-like lackey on him: none other than Aquaman! Aquaman takes Bruce back down to the waterfront, to murder him in a giant piledriver. Or "murder" him: Aquaman wasn't really going to kill him, but when Orm sees them Bruce has to throw them both over the side, so Orm thinks they were killed.

This was an early appearance for Ocean Master, so his origin and grudge against Aquaman are recapped; and this was also set during a pretty good storyline in Aquaman as he searched for the missing Mera. It would almost be a side quest; yeah, it's completely irrelevant. Stopping what he thought was a poacher, Aquaman accidentally kills a marine biologist, then Orm tells his brother he's just as bad as he is, which seems to put Aquaman into a fugue state controlled by Orm. Batman doesn't believe that Aquaman would murder anyone, though, and has Aquaman drugged and brainwashed to straighten him back out! But--what--huh? First, Bats doesn't seem to look into the possible murder either way. He also has the aforementioned Honor play Mera in Aquaman's drug trip-slash-vision. Honor then tells Batman, tell Bruce Wayne she's through with him.

He's a little stung by that. While Aquaman is instantly back to normal after this little play, he demands Orm not be harmed when they stop him; Commissioner Gordon, who had been playing the marine biologist, gives his tactical squad orders to shoot to kill, even though I'm still not sure there was any proof Orm had done anything at this point.

The only person successfully shot, or brought in, in this one turns out to be Ailsa, who declines Batman's offer of getting Bruce Wayne to speak on her behalf: while Orm betrayed her, she was alive with him, but willing to pay for her "foolishness." Batman strikes out again! That the Frightened City reprint I mentioned was all Haney/Adams Brave and the Bold stories, and I think they all read like you were expecting to take a drink of lukewarm coffee and instead get a steaming swig of peyote tea. Seriously, I don't think I can make it through the whole thing in one sitting. The Best of the Brave and the Bold reprint has somewhat more vanilla Viking Prince, Golden Gladiator, and Robin Hood stories; all with nice art and slightly less baffling nonsense.

Slightly less. (Originally from 1956's Brave and the Bold #6, "The Battle of the Kites!" Written by Bob Haney, art by Joe Kubert.)
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Monday, November 27, 2017

There's a Judge Dredd ad on the back of this one, but I think it's coincidence.


Star Trek's Prime Directive prevents the Starfleet crew from interfering with the development of a less-advanced culture, even with good intentions. It also often insures a problem won't be solved before the first commercial break, or in this case, three pages in. From 1995, Star Trek #76, "Prisoners" Written by Kevin J. Ryan, pencils by Rachel Ketchum, inks by Mark Heike.

Set prior to "Where No Man Has Gone Before," Kirk, Spock, and Gary Mitchell beam down to the planet Tendar. And are immediately thrown in jail, even though they had been invited, and the world wanted to join the Federation. The Tendarians had a brutal set of laws, no system for trial or appeal, and kept about 7% of the population permanently incarcerated, mostly to keep the other 93% in line. (A warden describes trials as a "staggering waste of resources," and rehabilitation impossible; so...) The landing party seems be being made an example of; and while the Tendarian ambassador assures Scotty they could beam down more people, as long as they obeyed the laws, Scotty's pretty sure that's crap.

Attempting to break Captain Kirk, the warden has Spock beaten; but he's tougher than he looks, and feigns weakness until they have the opportunity to escape. Beaming up with the warden as a prisoner, Kirk then has the ambassador transported aboard as well, and charged with kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment, etc. He knows they would be sent back home fairly quickly, but it might teach them a lesson; and plans to report to the Federation to have the planet declared off-limits--"Solitary confinement, if you will."

A single-issue story, which doesn't leave a lot of space to explore different aspects: Gary is somewhat underused, mostly just as the foil to Spock, which would usually be McCoy's role. There's also a brief scene with a trustee-prisoner, who seems completely institutionalized and unable to even consider freedom. And while work duties were mentioned, the resource logistics of keeping that many people locked up...well, I don't want to use the phrase "prison-industrial complex," but here we are. I was also thinking of the Iso-cubes from Judge Dredd, but these cells may have actually been nicer. Not by much, but still.
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