Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Punisher: Armor Wars" might've sold more copies, but would've been a spoiler...

Our title today's a bit of a spoiler, so if you were planning on reading this one from 1990, sorry! Punisher: the Prize, written by Chris Henderson, art by Mike Harris.

This was another of several prestige format Punisher books, on the tailend of his 80's heyday. On the trail of a mysterious arms auction, Frank goes undercover as a mercenary, to work with a pretty young reporter and a former Iron Man supporting character. (Security chief Vincent Martinelli, a deep cut, but nice use of continuity.) The weapon up for bids turns out to be an old Iron Man suit. Really old, a gray one: I wouldn't have thought there were that many of those to lose. There was still at least one floating around in Iron Man #300...

You don't see this very often anymore, but this was from a time when writers at least pretended that Frank might someday work past his loss and find his way to a normal life and wasn't completely dead inside. Looking back, that may have been a pretty brief time...Out of all those prestige format books Marvel did with the Punisher, offhand the only one I remember buying new was Punisher: G-Force, which was from 1992. That heyday lasted longer than I may have thought!

I know some storyline is coming up with Frank in the War Machine armor, which might be a good thing: it feels like his book may have had its moments over the last couple of years, but has overall lost some traction. Maybe a spell in the suit will do him some good.
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Something happens today, right? Don't tell me...


Today's the 2017 total eclipse of the sun, if you live in the United States. Certain parts of the states, I should say: it's not a complete eclipse in my neck of the woods, but it'll be something.

Knocked this one out quicker than usual--and it shows, sorry!--but I haven't had some of those DC Universe Classics figures out for a while. I still have to make a pinhole viewer for myself; slapped one together for my son the other day. Have fun, but be careful, and if you go full Eclipso I don't want to hear it...
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Friday, August 18, 2017

So, to Daredevil, wrestling professionally is just as bad as murder.


Where did he get his law degree again? Well, maybe he's punchy after today's comic! From 1983, Daredevil #200, "Redemption" Written by Denny O'Neil, pencils by William Johnson, inks by Danny Bulanadi (who has inked a ton of comics we've looked at here!) and a cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin.

Bullseye is back...in New York, for his job as the Kingpin's assassin; after having been patched back together with adamantium in Japan. (I'm not sure how much adamantium: I always thought he had the full skeleton like Wolverine, but per the GCD it might've just been his spine.) The Kingpin's willing to give him the position, if he can finish off Daredevil; or he's blowing smoke up Bullseye's ass and figures DD would take out that loose cannon. Conveniently, Bullseye and DD currently share a psychic link; which seems to give them a rudimentary knowledge of where the other is. Matt Murdock returns from Japan, with a broken arm from the previous issues, but is still intent on stopping Bullseye. After a brief visit from Black Widow, and the traditional bar fight, Daredevil tracks Bullseye down to a condemned arena; where Bullseye's been holed up and practicing. Still, although he can't see the posters still up there, Matt realizes he's been there before.

As a young child, Matt visited the arena to see his dad "Battlin' Jack Murdock" fight; but instead finds him...wrestling. Oh, the shame of it all! The ignominy! No wonder Matt wears a mask, he's ashamed to show his face! Seriously, Jack is doing good, honest work to support himself and his son; yet cries and acts like he had to shoot Old Yeller. Anyway, despite fighting one-handed, Daredevil is pretty much able to walk all over Bullseye, except for a slight reversal when he pulls a gun. Since DD had refrained from killing him before, like he wasn't worth it, Bullseye intends to return the favor; except by going on with his murders and letting DD know how he failed to stop him. This gives DD the strength to rally; but the memory of his crying, wrestling dad reminds him to stay true to himself. And Bullseye would go on with his murders, yet somehow this is a win for Daredevil. Hmm.

I want to say I saw this on the spinner racks back in the day, and was confused why the 200th issue wasn't a big, double-sized extravaganza; I think I was conditioned to expect that already.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

80-Page Thursday: Justice League Quarterly #16!


Previously, it took the combined might of Ty Templeton and Mike Parobeck to get me to like a twelve-page General Glory story; and today we have 80 non-stop pages of him...yikes. From 1994, Justice League Quarterly #16, "Visions of Glory" Written by Paul Kupperberg, art by Vince Giarrano, Rick Stasi, Curt Swan, Khato, Danny Rodriguez, and more.

Guy Gardner makes a brief appearance, visiting General Glory's civilian identity, Joe Jones, in the hospital. As Guy leaves, Joe meets his new roommate, former cop Donovan Wallace, who was paralyzed while saving a child during a shootout. To try and keep Donovan's spirits up--and maybe teach a little something about American perseverance--Joe retells several General Glory comic-book stories, most of which were probably fiction even in-universe; but they can still serve as inspiration. (Double-G had disappeared at the end of WWII, but his comic apparently continued well into the 90's!) We have a 50's style General Glory vs. "Groout, the creature who came from the cracks in the earth!" Then Curt Swan art for a very Silver Age "Moolah Murphy Goes Straight!" followed by a Dark Knight Returns pastiche and a 90's Image-style super-team book.

In the end, Joe remembers what put him in the hospital: after the JLA's last battle against Overmaster, General Glory had said his magic oath backwards and returned to the form of Joe Jones...a 70-year-old man who's heart could no longer take the strain. (GG was a Captain America parody, but also cribbed a little from Captain Marvel; which I always thought was a bridge too far. Pick one!) Joe transfers the mantle to Donovan, giving him the power to be a new vision of Grim-n-Gritty--I mean, General Glory. I'm not sure he was seen again, except per Wikipedia, where he was killed by Vandal Savage's Fourth Reich super-villain team. Which seems unnecessary: if your bad guys are naming themselves after Nazis, you probably don't need to have them kill a parody to establish their badness. This issue was mostly harmless fluff; but that discovery leaves a bad taste.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Magus."


Hmm. Deadpool debuted in 1991, and Infinity Crusade was 1993, so Pool could have been there! Of course, he wasn't, but someone may remedy that someday. Looking at the crossover issues, it's odd that while mutants appeared in the main series (Rogue, Wolverine, Storm, and even Strong Guy appear on the covers) there weren't any X-title crossovers. Presumably, they had their own things going that year...Aside from a brief cameo on a viewscreen in Infinity Gauntlet, Nightcrawler and the rest of Excalibur don't appear in any of the trilogy.

The "Clowns" issue of Warlock Pool mentions is Strange Tales #181, which has been reprinted a few times. It's a legitimate classic, well worth tracking down. I probably read it sometime in the 90's in Fantasy Masterpieces #11, and maybe had half an idea what was going on.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today, a different Captain punching Nazis.


And lions, and cowboys, and aliens, oh my! From 1991-92, Armageddon: the Alien Agenda #2-4, written by Jonathan Peterson, pencils by Mike Netzer, Alan Weiss, and Dick Giordano; inks by Joe Rubinstein and Steve Mitchell.

I re-read the first issue of this mini-series last year, but I thought there was another Captain Atom-led mini-series between this one and Armageddon: Inferno. Nope! It's all piled up here. Nathaniel Adam ends up in Nero's Rome, then DC's wild west, then World War II; thrown forward from prehistoric times by the energy released from the detonator aliens intended to use to collapse earth (and the rest of the solar system) into a wormhole. His powers keep kicking on and off as well, just to keep it from being too easy. Meanwhile, stupid lunkhead dope Monarch works with the aliens, who promise to send him to his correct time if he gets the detonator for them; but that's a lie: travelling back in time would kill him, then the aliens would destroy earth in prehistoric times, so he'd never be born, either! Which either makes the aliens' plan hinge on causing a paradox, or Monarch double-stupid.

While the aliens are able to put Monarch and a few others in suspended animation, to chase down Atom in the 'future,' the rest of them live out their lives, hidden behind a force field that both protects and separates them from the outside world. By the mid-twentieth century, their society seems to have gone a bit mad; partially because they hadn't realized if Monarch was going to have ever succeeded, they would never have existed there. After smashing a concentration camp, Captain Atom catches up with Monarch at a secret Pacific atomic bomb test. In the ensuing scuffle the detonator is shattered, the a-bomb causes a massive tidal wave that swamps the observer ships, and the Captain is thrown forward to the present, 1991! Monarch disappears in the timestream, the aliens are still plotting against Captain Atom, and a caption box promises a new title for him...that didn't seem to happen, but he would go on with the Justice League, Extreme Justice, and L.A.W. Kind of a downward spiral there...

Years later, there would be another miniseries, Captain Atom: Armageddon, where he was sent to the Wildstorm universe for a bit. I haven't read it, but it did set up my favorite post from the old blog Random Panels.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

I should've saved this for the second-to-last week of the year...


For about as long as I've been doing "The End" Week, where I check out the last issue of a comic; Conan the Barbarian #275 has been a grail for me. It's got "The End!" right on the cover, for Crom's sake. And per a quick Google search, it's probably upwards of $35 at the cheapest: before I'd spring for that, I'd probably opt for Dark Horse's reprint volume, Chronicles of Conan volume 34; which would also include today's issue: from 1993, Conan the Barbarian #274, "Demon-Wings over Zamora" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Mike Docherty, inks by Ricardo Villagran.

Conan's band of mercenaries is looking at an unusual downturn in the job market, with what could be a dry spell of peace coming up. Still, Conan doesn't even get the night off, as he is attacked by masked cultists who refer to him as the "god-slayer," and conk him on the noggin and make off with him. (This is a traditional way of changing scenes in Conan, Warlord, any number of comics like it!) Conan wakes up in Shadizar the wicked, chained to an altar, and surrounded by cultists. A not-unfamiliar situation for the barbarian, but this time it was on purpose, rather than by happenstance: the cultists recognized Conan as the one that killed their god, some ten years ago, in Conan the Barbarian #6! (From 1971, and older than even me!) Back in that issue, the 'god' had been a giant bat; this time around it's a relatively large bat-woman...

Although Conan kills several of the cultists and sets their new tower on fire, he can't stop the bat-woman from carrying him off to her cave. He's ready to fight it out, but the bat-woman is somewhat beguiling, and Conan finds himself drawn to her. Or hypnotized, either or. Only the noise of her monstrous, more bat-like children save Conan; and he sets another fire to take them out. (Conan the Arsonist this issue...) Fighting the bat-woman, Conan chokes her out in mid-air and jumps to safety, feeling a moment of pity for her as she crashes and dies.

This might be as close as I get to that last issue; but that regret is mitigated a bit since per the GCD, Conan #275 doesn't even have a proper ending, it's continued in Savage Sword of Conan #218! Which is probably slightly easier and cheaper to find, but still.
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