Friday, November 21, 2014

Still waiting to see "Arkon IV" as a Marvel Easter egg...


Once upon a time, the idea of Marvel's Avengers becoming a movie--on film with actual actors, that people might pay cash money to see!--was a pipe dream. And like yesterday's Moon Knight Special, this issue has a weird view of Hollywood around about 1990: preening, talentless egoists trying to make money by piecing together films from the latest fads and biggest names. (Probably, but they're pretty up-front about it here!) From 1991's Avengers West Coast Annual #6, "A Wasp in Hollywood!" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Jeff Moore, inks by Mark McKenna.

Janet Van Dyne takes a meeting with a big-wheel/little man producer, pitching her screenplay the Coming of the Avengers. Her origin, which included a giant alien that killed her father, is the first thing on the cutting room floor; or at least set for a rewrite: a giant alien not being in the budget, the producer rolls the idea into Egghead instead. And that's only the first of many rewrites; as Ant-Man is made Giant-Man a little early, and what the hell, why not make the Wasp a giant Queen Wasp instead? As a Schwarzenegger-type is offered the villain's role, Jan's shown the door, but a writer's input is probably never especially welcome anyway...

Mind you, "Dr. Pimp" may not be the worst change I've ever heard...

I didn't scan any, but there are Arkon posters in the producers office: I've mentioned the character Arkon the Imperion before, but in the Marvel Universe, his brief appearances on earth were enough for someone to swipe, um, inspire, several sci-fi movies; one of which was Wonder Man's big moment as an actor. Blue Devil was on a movie marquee in a recent episode of Flash; I don't think Arkon has been mentioned in the Marvel movieverse yet!

This issue is pretty awful overall (the West Coast Avengers recap "West Side Story" is a terrible title recapping mostly terrible issues...) as was most of the "Subterranean Wars" crossover, although one chapter was pretty great and we may come back to it soon...
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

I don't think I appreciated these enough at the time:


The lead story in 1992's Moon Knight Special #1 was "Explosion at the Center of a Madman's Crown." (Written by Doug Moench, pencils by Art Nichols, inks by Chris Ivy.) It guest-starred Master of Kung Fu Shang-Chi and featured villains and settings from that book, so it felt more like it than an issue of Moon Knight. But, this was about midway through the run of Marc Spector: Moon Knight; I had mis-remembered it as being between the short 1985 Fist of Khonshu and 1989's Marc Spector.

But although there's a not-terribly-funny "Moon Blight" the movie spoof that wastes Marie Severin art, there's also some fun retro covers from Ron Frenz, John Romita, Don Heck, Ty Templeton, and Gene Colan! Those are pretty great.

Man, I would've read the hell out of Gene Colan's Moon Knight. Or Ty Templeton's, for that matter!
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Hands-Free."


Guys are icky, Kitty! Don't trust them!

Anyway, while I don't think Star Trek: Insurrection is anyone's favorite of the series (it's middle-of-the-road, but not without merits) Pool still steals a line from Riker in the last panel. Proving that if this storyline goes on long enough, I'll be able to swipe from every sci-fi space battle trope that I can remember.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

This looks like a job for the Human Bullet! Er, Bulletman. Whatever.


Bulletman! Another member of the G.I. Joe Adventure Team. Not to be confused with the Human Bullet.

Since the original figure is from the late seventies, there isn't a lot of back-story or origin for Bulletman, who may or may not have been stolen wholesale from the Fawcett comics character. I think some writers have used the Adventure Team characters to expand G.I. Joe's history, but mostly just cameos.

Sadly, Atomic Man Mike Power didn't come with a little stickered piece to represent a boxed version of himself; which I realized after about fifteen minutes of looking in my Kre-O bin.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Only six-inches tall, but still terrifying...


I was surprised to find this issue for fifty cents, then mildly surprised it didn't have the Comics Code seal on the cover. Then extra-surprised midway through: from 1988, Sword of the Atom Special #3, written by Jan Strnad, pencils by Pat Broderick, inks by Dennis Janke.

Like the previous Sword of the Atom stories, Ray Palmer is still trapped at six-inches tall, in the Amazon jungle, with the alien Morlaidhans. Which isn't as bad as all that: Ray got the girl, Princess Laethwen, and a surprising aptitude for both sword-fighting and survival. Ray and Laethwen have made their way to the city of the Skul-Riders--OK, actually they're hawks, I think. But since the aliens, like Ray, are trapped at six-inches tall, they can do that; but this batch don't have Laethwen's yellow skin. I'm not sure why, but whatever. Ray's there to try and investigate the scientific equipment of the former king, Torbul. (The aliens, yellow or no, had been more advanced but fallen into savagery; in fact, some may have been there as a penal colony.)

Friendly local doctor Ylaan isn't sure what to make of Torbul's work, but a booby-trap sets off a deadly plague. The current tyrant king comes down with it, and while Laethwen tries to help a local farm couple who's son comes down with it, Ylaan tries to warn Ray to flee. They almost escape, except for the Skul-Riders; and Ray and Laethwen end up in the dungeon. The tyrant dies, and while most of the plague victims are thrown into a pit, a funeral pyre was planned for him. Ray and Laethwen try to make their escape during the funeral, but the tyrant rises from his pyre, still on fire! And that farm couple, who's son died? He comes back.

I was absolutely not expecting that! The zombie son kills his mother, before the father has to put him down. Meanwhile, a dying Ylaan explains the plague didn't kill it's victims, but between the fever and the pit-burial, they would have nothing but hate. Kill-crazed, the dead rise, and Ray and Laethwen's only hope is to fight their way to a Skul trapped in a burning rookery and escape.

The next day, the zombies are again dead, their bodies burned out after their brief "re-life." The bodies would be burned this time. As Ray notes in a journal, wondering if he was responsible for this or if it would've happened regardless, he and Laethwen would spend a couple weeks alone in the jungle, to make sure they weren't infected before going home. But he was in no particular hurry.

It feels a little overwritten in spots, but a surprisingly dark story here. Sadly, Laethwen would be given short shrift, fridged at the start of Power of the Atom. I thought that was a misstep then, but they had to get Ray back to America.



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Friday, November 14, 2014

"Orrgo or Go Home" might've been a better title...


I went back and added "Marvel Adventures" as a tag, because until I saw classic Marvel monster Orrgo and Ben Grimm judging a beauty contest that gets crashed by A.I.M., I didn't realize I wanted that in a comic. From 2008, Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #35, "Go One Way Orrgo Another" Written by Paul Tobin, pencils by David Nakayama, inks by Cory Hamscher. Reprinted in digest form as New York's Finest, although sadly without the Chris Giarusso Mini Marvels strips!

The Thing is able to single-handedly stop the alien invasion of Orrgo, but Ben's feelings are a little hurt when Johnny says he caught the tailend of that fight: it was a big, hideous orange rock monster, not unlike Ben. Still, back at the Baxter Building, the guys are distracted when they get an invite to judge a beauty contest, but Orrgo turns out to be another guest judge! Orrgo suggests Ben chalk up trying to enslave earth as his "reckless youth," but Ben points out that was last week. A.I.M. is there since they used the contest as cover to sneak in some (apparently super-hot) scientists, but they don't realize model Chili Storm already has their number. "Guys talk around pretty girls, and I'm the prettiest." The ruckus starts when A.I.M. decides to try and steal Orrgo's technology, not realizing all his powers were mental, not tech. Johnny is responsible for maybe 60% of that ruckus...

Marvel ran with these low-continuity, ostensibly for kids books for some time; starting with vaguely manga-influenced re-tellings of classic tales before branching into more original stories. And the more offbeat they got, generally the better they were: go back through the tag for classics like "Doom, Where's My Car?" or "A Not-So-Beautiful Mind" or "Would You Like Living Darkness with That?"

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

80-Page Thursdays: Nightwing 80-Page Giant #1!


Sometimes, a character can be a hero in one type of story, and a villain in another. Take the example of a young policewoman from a family legacy of cops; who becomes a media darling in a city rife with corruption. At a photo op with three generations of her family, someone uses thirty pounds of C-4 to wipe her family out. Somehow, she survives, horrifyingly burnt, her tear ducts burnt out, even her mouth fused shut by the heat. After being found wandering the streets, she's taken to the burn ward, but then disappears. Maybe to a Tibetan monastery, maybe to a voodoo priest in Haiti...maybe to a cadre of mad scientists who give her a new, experimental drug called Venom. She would return to her city, to get murderous vengeance on those who wronged her and her family; if this was a Punisher comic, she'd be a super-hero, and Frank would have her back.

Unfortunately for her, it's a Nightwing comic. From 2000, Nightwing 80-Page Giant, "Hella!" Written by Chuck Dixon, art by Manuel Gutierrez, Mike Collins, and more. This issue falls during the stretch when Dick Grayson was working as a cop for a day job, and dating Barbara (Oracle now) Gordon. (I know there was a stretch of old Captain America issues where he was a cop, and I remember thinking it might be a good way to get info and be on the scene, but tough to get away from to change outfits!) Nightwing gets on the case when the mysterious Hella throws the former police commissioner--a one-eyed double amputee--into a wheelchair and out onto the interstate. He works the case, and finds more than a few police officers involved.

Hella goes after police chief Redhorn, who had been on the run since he thought the crime boss Blockbuster had put a hit out on him. Nightwing intervenes in their shootout, but Hella is presumed killed in a fiery boat explosion. But that hasn't stopped her before...

Unlike even most of these DC 80-pagers from around this time, this one works a lot into the book's regular continuity. Which makes it read like a longer, regular issue, but nothing wrong with that. I was mildly curious if Hella returned, since sometimes when Batman villains get stopped from their initial goals, they turn their attention to killing Batman. Well, maybe we'll see sometime.
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