Tuesday, July 22, 2014

He's a murderer made of corpses, but the worst part is he's presumptuous...

Is it weird that Marvel had a good chunk of success with two-thirds of the Big Three of Monsters, but seemed to consistently miss with the Monster of Frankenstein? Heck, he's kind of upstaged by another werewolf this issue: from 1973, the Monster of Frankenstein #5, "The Monster Walks Among Us!" Written by Gary Friedrich, art by Mike Ploog, inks by John Verpoorten; and opening with a line from John Fogerty...predating it's use in An American Werewolf in London, hmm.

Anyway, the first few issues of the Monster's book had been mostly retelling his origin, fairly faithfully to Shelley's original novel. I think. The Monster may be pictured more closely to what audiences would expect. Now, Frank's making his way out of the arctic, after spending maybe a century frozen; but he crosses paths with a ship, on fire, with a beautiful girl tied to the mast. As he rescues her, he finds a village celebrating her death, and is appalled. Almost as appalled as the girl Lenore is at first sight of Frank. Still, he defends her, even against her own father, who may have been a hero once but now seems convinced she is a devil.

Escaping into the woods, Frank cares for Lenore as best he can, and she seems to appreciate both it and him. (This may be a weird issue: Frank just wants to be loved, but seemingly feels that since he saved the girl, she should be his...) Until, one night--coincidentally the night of the full moon--she disappears, and Frank fears the villagers came for her. Instead, he sees the village guard attacked and killed by a werewolf, and realizes it must've killed Lenore as well. Cue monster fight, which ends when Frank pulls the silver sword of Lenore's father out of a tree and kills the werewolf. No points for guessing it was Lenore. Either feeling the loss of innocence or like a chump, Frank leaves, resuming his quest to murder the last descendant of Victor Frankenstein...that was the sort of thing that kinda made it tough for Frank to be a sympathetic character, then.

The villagers are kind of dickish here, which is pretty common in both old movies and a fair number of old Marvel comics, both the horror ones and every time they chased Nightcrawler around...I kind of think Marvel thought mid-European countries were still a bit, rustic, we'll say.

I thought I had the Essential Monster of Frankenstein collection, but not handy. I think there were a stretch of issues where Frank's vocal cords were severed, bringing him even more in line with the traditional movie interpretation, but also making it easier for the likewise traditional Marvel misunderstanding meet-brawls. Still, the creature had a lot of murders under his belt, too many for a heroic lead; but not in the same way an outright evil character like Dracula would; which is why I think he never quite clicked at Marvel.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

So I'm running a bit behind because I'm getting ready to go on vacation, and then I pick up a comic and realize how behind I am on those, too: from 2008, the Brave and the Bold #13, "American Samuroids" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Jerry Ordway, inks by Scott Koblish and Bob McLeod.

Unfortunate title aside, this issue is a fun throwback to the days when B&B was a Batman team-up book, with Bats joining forces with the Jay Garrick Flash. As Batman investigates a murder, he's attacked by a robot with a samurai sword, that is then taken apart by Jay. Jay's on the scene since the victim was a friend of his, who had been working on "artificial intelligence in chemical form." That research was stolen by T.O. Morrow, who's working with the Penguin! The Riddler paid off the Penguin with an old warehouse, which turned out to be full of old androids Morrow created, and now they're upgrading them with the new A.I. Penquin plans on getting into the "global security business," but they need supplies from Wayne Industries, who won't sell. He's even tried to have Wayne whacked a few times, which for some reason turns out to be surprisingly difficult. Lucky bastard...

Meanwhile, at the Batcave, Jay and Bruce have a discussion about mentoring: Jay also taught several scientists, along with the Flashes that followed him, which surprises Bruce. Bruce then makes himself a target, which draws in the...ugh, samuroids. Jay realizes the A.I. is making the androids more and more difficult to defeat, but the bacteria used for it is vulnerable to antibiotics. As Batman fights them, Jay whips up a batch and neutralizes the lot. They then follow the androids' chemical trail to Morrow's factory; somewhat surprisingly, they then blow it up. Morrow disappears into the timestream, although I'm not sure that's his doing; Batman implies that'll happen to him and it's more of a punishment. In the end, before they're off to new cases, Batman tells Jay how much he respects him.

This is exactly the type of story that probably wouldn't be doable under the New 52, since there isn't the same sense of legacy. And I don't know if T.O. Morrow--who was a workhorse of a villain in old JLA stories--has even appeared yet; or Red Tornado for that matter? And I don't think DC has been giving a lot of work to Jerry Ordway lately, either; but he has a book on the shelves now! He's been contributing art for a Mermaid Man cereal serial in Spongebob Comics! Hope he's having fun, since that story surely is. (Story and some art by Derek Drymon.)
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

I think I like the framing sequence more than the actual stories...

From a dinged-up, almost coverless copy of Giant-Size Chillers #1, possibly written by Len Wein with pencils by Gene Colan and inks by Tom Palmer. This book was a collection of horror stories, a good chunk of 'em from fifties Marvel books. Not bad for the time, if nothing really jumping out and grabbing me. But the framing sequence, well, Colan and Palmer knew scary from their time on Tomb of Dracula, and do a lot with a little.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Hit It Off."

Over at the Fwoosh's forum discussing Guardians of the Galaxy figures, an enterprising poster under the name Noodlechow posted a Rocket Raccoon figure modified with better joints. It looks pretty cool, although you do need a few donor figures to hack up for parts!

Also, I'm pretty sure that like an American tourist, Groot just repeats things louder and with more inflection, because he secretly thinks everyone should speak his language and that's how to get through to foreign types. "Donde esta la biblioteca?" "I...am...GROOT!"

Today Deadpool's guns are from an Imaginext Robot figure I have two of; while Rocket's is from the Nightcrawler X-Men Water Wars figure! We looked at the figure some time back, so, um, pretend I showed his squirt crossbow thing there, then.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I kinda like this version of She-Thor better...

Reckon it'll be on about a dozen blogs today, but after seeing the news of a new female Thor, I reached for a random old copy of What If? #10 that I had next to my desk! (From 1978, "What If Jane Foster had found--the Hammer of Thor?" Written by Don Glut, art by Rick Hoberg, inks by Dave Hunt.)

I don't know about this one, if for no other reason than "Thor" isn't a title, it's his name. He could be replaced as the God of Thunder or an Avenger, but taking his name seems a little harsh. And I wonder if Angela is taking the gig, since her back story is ludicrous in-story and out! And some Marvel stuff is really great right now (I'm enjoying Nightcrawler, Silver Surfer, and the rest of Warren Ellis's Moon Knight. God, Moon Knight #5 was so good, guys...) other books like Captain America and now Thor seem to be trying that old 90's tack of replacing the titular hero, at least temporarily.

By the way, if you've never read this old What If?, it's gender-politics are probably a bit dated: since Jane gets the hammer instead, Donald Blake doesn't get the chance to become Thor again, and that was apparently his real identity. After Odin proclaims he now has but one son, Loki; and the Warriors Three all try to pick up Thordis, she gets exiled from Asgard. Meanwhile, Sif gets Donald Blake to man up and rescue her from a pretend drowning, but under Odin's proclamation can't tell Don he's really Thor. Meanwhile, Thordis has been in love with Don, but loses him to Sif. She then loses Mjolnir when Odin gives it back to the restored Thor; but Odin makes Jane a goddess...because he's fallen for her. (And was single in that continuity, so it's OK, even if he's old and beardy.)

Still, that cover by John Buscema makes that outfit work.

(This counts as Friday's post, since I'm behind, but wanted to get this out there!)
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Remember past lives? I don't even remember buying this comic...

...and I'm 90% sure I've read the original Robert E. Howard story as well, but couldn't say when. So we'll blog this comic so we remember it at least: from 1972, Supernatural Thrillers #3, "The Valley of the Worm" Adapted by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, art by Gil Kane, inks by Ernie Chua, aka Ernie Chan.

As James Allison lays dying, he has visions of his more glorious past lives, like the warrior Niord. Who's that, you ask? Only the inspiration for such legends as those of Perseus, Beowulf, St. George, and Siegfried. Niord and his band of Nordic Viking types were moving into a new land, which led to a skirmish with the darker-skinned Picts. (There's more than a few questionable racial issues in the work of Robert E. Howard.) Still, Niord spares a brave Pict by the name of Gorm (after bashing him in the head with a shield) and the two tribes eventually forge a peace. Niord and Gorm become hunting buddies, until Niord's nearly killed by a saber-tooth tiger. Gorm (misspelled Grom on more than a couple panels) repays his friend's kindness by nursing him back to health.

While he recovers, a number of his tribe split off to make their new home in "the Valley of the Broken Stones," which sounds...nice. Gorm tries to warn them, but they laugh him off, so it's their own fault when they get massacred by a monster, "the Dark One." Niord makes a plan to defeat the monster, by first taking out another: the giant serpent Satha. With a deadfall trap, he kills the snake and takes its venom, then goes to the Broken Stones; a ruined, monstrous temple. After killing a hairy, piping thing; Niord battles the monster, a "worm." His poison arrows probably would've done the job, but he tries to finish the wounded monster with his sword, and is smashed to a pulp for his trouble. Still, he dies happy as the temple collapses on the dying worm; and as the narrator dies himself in the present day.

I don't know if this story is "One of the Greatest Monster Epics of All Time!" as the cover proclaims, but not a bad little read. A quick GCD search shows its been reprinted a couple times; but I'm mildly surprised no one else has done a version of it.
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Monday, July 14, 2014

A couple of recent pickups: first, for someone who doesn't actually play the game, I still have a fair amount of Heroclix. Especially since I'll usually try to cough up for a Nightcrawler one. This one wasn't as spendy as some: there's a recent one with Excalibur that looks great but too much for me. This one's headed for my desk at work.

Since my dad doesn't read this (I don't think...) I can tell you I got him NECA's Lone Ranger and Tonto figures. (Not the super-deluxe Hot Toys Tonto Michael Crawford just reviewed!) They ran me five bucks each with coupons, and Dad's a big fan--he loved the movie! Yeah, he's the one! I'd heard there was a bit too much Johnny Depp being weird for Johnny Depp's sake, but Dad apparently worked through that.

Anyway, then I went back later and they were marked down some more, but I ended up with the unmasked Lone Ranger (which would just be some guy, then...) and Tonto with a bird cage. Why does Tonto have a bird cage? I guess I won't know 'til I see the movie, but I saved that one and the masked Ranger for Dad, and these two for me. The merits of the movie notwithstanding, they are sharp looking figures. Need to go back and get Dad the Blu-Ray now...

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Three big D's would be too many for a logo, I think...

Depending on who you ask, the former Shocker Toys GBJR Toys may be getting some figures out soon. At one point, they were going to put out a series of Golden Age figures based on public domain characters like the Black Terror and the pre-Marvel Daredevil. So, I was excited to take a look at Dynamite's version of the character, the Death-Defying 'Devil #1, plot and art direction by Alex Ross, plot and script by Joe Casey, art by Edgar Salazar. With nine variant covers! The "'Devil" may be to differentiate him, or abbreviate from "Daredevil," I suppose.

This was a spin-off/follow-up to the earlier Project Superpowers, which apparently was required reading, since this issue doesn't spell it all out for you. A number of super-heroes, like the Black Terror and Green Lama, had recently returned after disappearing decades prior; and an older man is appalled that one of them is wearing a costume he recognizes. It's implied the older man was one of the 'Devil's band of kid sidekicks during the war; he also looks like an angry Don Rickles.

As the older man takes steps towards taking down the 'Devil, the titular character is fighting the terrorist organization known as the Claw. Their operatives seem to come from anywhere and everywhere, and may in fact be brainwashed or mind-controlled puppets of something bigger. As the 'Devil and French agent Justine Boulet (who may not have been referred to by name this issue...) question a Claw soldier, the 'Devil is attacked by the Dragon, who wears a costume and wields a boomerang very much like the 'Devil's. But unlike the 'Devil, the Dragon won't shut up, while the 'Devil is unable or unwilling to speak. It's implied (or maybe a red herring!) that the Dragon is the older man, intent on revenge against someone he thinks is an impostor.

Even going in cold, I didn't think this first issue was too bad; but the next two fell into the trap of trying to introduce too many characters quickly, with the Silver Streak and the Ghost. (Not any of the Ghosts you're probably thinking of!) I know Erik Larsen did a version of the character as well in Savage Dragon...but I couldn't tell you which, if either, were closer to the Daredevil's original stories and characterization. Still kinda want that figure, though...

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