Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wouldn't mind a red Venompool, down the line.

The temptation is, to tell you all not to be thankful for anything, ever, since everything sucks and eventually everyone disappoints. Sure, probably; but every once in a while there are cheap comics and exclusive figures, or the two together! From earlier this year, Deadpool: Back in Black #2-5, written by Cullen Bunn, art by Salva Espin. And from GameStop, the Marvel Legends Deadpool: Back in Black action figure!

I remember seeing this solicited and being mildly disappointed it didn't feature the Marvel Contest of Champions Venompool, who was larger and red...and probably would've required a bit more sculpting and tooling. The BiB is mostly clever reuse, like the symbiote tentacles from Agent Venom, claw hands from the Ben Reilly Spider-Man, and I think an alternate head from Superior Venom. (If you can pick the latter out in the photo linked there. S-V is surprisingly spendy on Amazon as of right now; and it's always interesting how some figures are, and some aren't, even if produced equally with Build-a-Figure parts for a common character. Could be a lot of one-armed Rhinos out there, but I digress.)

This mini-series is set after 1985's Web of Spider-Man #1, a good six years prior to Deadpool's first appearance in New Mutants #98! But it's part of the joke, shared with Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars, that Pool was there for the 80's, and everyone including you the reader either didn't notice, or forgot, or blocked that trauma out. It's a running joke that may trace its roots back to Deadpool Team-Up #1! But this does tie back into Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars, as Pool reunites with the Klyntar symbiote that would later become half of Venom. After being rejected by Spider-Man, the symbiote finds a new and more receptive host in Deadpool; although it could be that Pool doesn't realize how much the symbiote is influencing him.

The whole thing fits in-continuity, although there is a sequence with Spider-Man, where he's knocked out as to not see either Pool or the symbiote. And he's not the only guest-star, since there's appearances by Power Pack, the Black Cat, Kraven the Hunter, and Obnoxio the Clown! Particularly in the second issue, there are also a ton of editorial footnotes referencing books that didn't happen, some of which sound pretty good.

It's not an essential figure or an essential mini-series, but both are completely fun, and if you can, grab 'em.
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017


The late Mr. Hardy's will scheme probably didn't take the Punisher shooting the place up into account, but I suppose the best plans leave a bit of room for the unexpected. In my head, Felicia is just shy of Tony Stark (on a good day) rich; except she mostly steals for the thrill, and hasn't really put any time or effort into the massive amount of money laundering she'd have to do to really start spending it. Conversely, Jessica Jones is consistently just shy of destitute, but almost always has enough change for a cheap bottle of something. That's because her friends, neighbors, etc. often arrange for her to conveniently "find" enough cash in her couch cushions, so she has just enough sauce to keep from being really mean...
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sometimes, the numbers just do not come out.

I don't think we have any scans of him, but I have a soft-spot for lower tier Fantastic Four baddie the Mad Thinker. He had a fun turnout in New Warriors #3, and in Amazing Spider-Man #242 (although the Awesome Android on the cover wasn't the Awesome Android!) but I like his almost no-show in today's book: from 1977, Fantastic Four #183, "Battleground: the Baxter Building!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Joe Sinnott. (Marvel had used that exact same title just four years prior, in FF #130!)

The Mad Thinker is in a cheerful mood today, since his plan is running like clockwork: Reed Richards (currently powerless), the Thing, and the Human Torch were all trapped in the Negative Zone. The Invisible Woman should be dead by now, since she was just thrown out a window; and the Thinker's Android should be securing the building so the Thinker can help himself to Reed's inventions. But while the Thinker's numbers may crunch out, there are some more variables: Sue is saved by the Impossible Man, who then refuses to join her, Thundra, and Tigra in storming the Baxter Building, since it wasn't fun. The Brute--the monstrous Reed Richards of Counter-Earth, currently evil--had some regret over throwing Sue out the window, but not so much that he didn't turn the building's defenses on them.

Meanwhile, in the Negative Zone, Annihilus explains to the guys how he discovered the Mad Thinker's android (from FF #71, which features a cover similar to this month's!) floating in the Zone, and turned it into his "loyal Scavenger!" for Fantastic Four Annual #6. After Annihilus was defeated in FF #141, the "loyal" Scavenger helped himself to his boss's Cosmic Control Rod, and digivolved into a third form...a big beardy monster, for some reason. ("He came to life. Good for him.") There is actually a somewhat tragic element to Annihilus, even though he's a horrible monster: he's terrified of death, and most everything he does is in search of immortality. He had taken the android because he wanted a servant that wouldn't betray him, so of course it stole his immortality. Reed works out a deal, though: give them a ride back to the Negative Zone portal, and he would return the Rod once they take it away from the android.

So, by the time the Thinker leisurely strolls into Reed's lab...the numbers have distinctly not worked out as expected. There's at least two people there he didn't plan for at all, and I'd guess the odds of his android growing a beard weren't taken into account. The Thinker straight ghosts on that one. Meanwhile, the android is defeated when the Rod is yanked out of it, and the Brute--now "good" since his concussion had worn off--takes the Rod through the Negative Zone for Annihilus, to redeem himself. But remember, there's no shame in bailing on a plan that's not working; sometimes there's just no sense in riding it out. This was a pretty good issue, but the next one--with a two-thirds different creative team--is even better.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

This is like the sixth time, I really should know whodunit by now.

We blogged Detective Comics #627 a couple years back: that issue featured four different versions of Batman's first appearance in "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate." Since then, I knew it had been retold again, in Detective Comics #27, but I had forgotten it was retold in part in today's book! From 1986, Secret Origins #6, written by Roy Thomas, pencils and colors by Marshall Rogers, inks by Terry Austin.

In chronological order, this would've probably been the third retelling of "Chemical Syndicate," taking nine pages of the twenty-three here for the Golden Age Batman's origin. (At least that I know of; although I'd guess there would be at least a few panels devoted to it in Untold Legend of the Batman.) I think Thomas keeps a lot of later influences out: Bruce Wayne's training appears to be completely domestic, without the foreign combat training that was usually prevalent, and a somewhat surprising focus on acting. Also, no Alfred! Bruce uses a disguise to order a costume made, which I think was pretty traditional for classic DC heroes: the hero would get one at the costume shop or their mom would make it or something. Sewing was for girls, at least until some kid made his own.

At some point we'll probably get around to Detective Comics #27, although offhand I don't recall it being great. That one's 15 pages with Bryan Hitch art, which would usually be something, but still...well, it's around somewhere.
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Friday, November 17, 2017

Hey, I had this scheduled before the Morbius movie announcement, although I'll kinda believe it when I see it. Kinda betting Helleyes won't be in it, though, which is a shame.

Here's something that comes from blogging as long as I have: we saw the previous issue over nine years ago, and the reprint of the next issue about three years ago, so I had to search for a moment to make sure we hadn't hit this issue yet! From 1975, Fear #29, "Through a Helleyes Darkly!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Don Heck, inks by Bob McLeod. (The cover's full title is Adventure Into Fear with the Man Called Morbius...the Living Vampire, put that in your indicia and smoke it.)

Morbius has just passed through one of the multiple eyes of the creature called Helleyes, and each of its eyes are a doorway to a different other-dimensional hell. Morbius finds himself underwater, in an ocean of blood, which he takes a hearty chug of once he gets ashore a small island. There, his pursuer of the last few issues, ex-CIA agent Simon Stroud, catches up to him and confronts him about the recent, seemingly vampiric murders in Boston. Morbius points out, they may have bigger fish to fry right now; since both are stubborn as hell it turns into a fistfight. Stroud still has his gun, though, and plans on bringing Morbius alive; Morbius wonders how he's going to get them back to earth; and then they're interrupted by singing crabs.

Even so, this issue doesn't have the same level of bizarre imagery the previous one (written by Doug Moench, with artist Frank Robbins) did. Morbius and Stroud fight various manifestations of Helleyes, and each other--mostly each other--until Morbius jumps through the eye on Helleyes's hand, and he and Stroud are back in the basement of Mason Mansion, setting up the next issue. It really feels like Mantlo got this assignment out of the blue, and had to wrap that storyline up quickly. And while I couldn't say if he ever appeared besides this next one, Helleyes would make a brief appearance in Busiek and Larsen's Defenders!
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

I'm beginning to see the flaw in his master plan.

Somebody's a Space Invaders fan. Previously, we checked out the Calculator's early appearances against Black Canary, the Atom, and Batman. Today, the villain faces the Atom again, but he previously "immunized" himself against the Tiny Titan, who's powerless to stop him. Then who could? What about Air Wave? ...who? From 1981, Action Comics #524, "Catastrophe by Calculation!" Written by Bob Rozakis, pencils by Alex Saviuk, inks by Vince Colletta.

I'm going to look this up to get this right, but I'm worried when I do, I'll find out Air Wave was turned into energy and launched into space or outright killed in the eighties or some crossover. (Yep, pretty much!) He made it through Crisis on Infinite Earths, anyway; but not Infinite Crisis. This youngster was the third Air Wave, a young legacy hero, and cousin of Hal Jordan. When the Calculator breaks out during a court appearance, after getting the location of the "Hurricane Harness" weapon from Professor Hyatt, the Atom is stopped cold. Still, one phone call later, Atom picks up Air Wave and tags him into the fight, with a nice opening even. The Calculator is not super impressed.

Despite his backtalk, the Calculator is beat by Air Wave, but doesn't count it as a total loss, since he's now "immune" to his power. Again, somehow. Still, that just means someone new has to kick his ass every time. Eventually he'd be getting whupped by Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys or something.
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017


The planet Lotiara is actually an in-continuity Marvel planet, albeit not one often visited.

Today's homage--well, swipe--is Star Trek: the Next Generation episode "Conundrum", in which the crew's memory is wiped, they have a mysterious mission to destroy an enemy they can't remember, and there's a new officer that the audience hasn't seen's a good one.
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