Friday, May 18, 2018

I hadn't planned on all annuals this week, but here we are.

Today's book falls smack dab in the middle of a plotline I vaguely recall the start and the end of, but just barely. Still, let's check out from 2009, Captain Britain and MI13 Annual #1, "The Harrowing of Hell" Written by Paul Cornell, pencils by Mike Collins, inks by Livesay.

Meggan had been lost while trying to save the 616-universe during House of M, and ended up trapped in hell. That would've been confusing in and of itself, but it seemed odd she wasn't in more pain in hell; which leads to a meeting with the lords of Hell, which includes Dormammu, Mephisto, and Hela. (Apparently Ahpuch of the Mayans had lost his seat at the big table.) Dormammu tricks her into using her empathic powers to be judged by hell, and takes a misshapen, monstrous form. Still, they've managed to piss her off, which gives Meggan a much needed focus.

Rallying an army behind her, Meggan has another meeting, this time with Pluto; who wanted in on the lords of Hell, and gives her the gift of a new form not unlike her usual self. I'm not sure this was how it always worked, but in hell, her empathic abilities were perfect: her armies, and even the opposing armies, would feel what she felt; a righteous anger towards the lords. But she still felt hope too, which her armies thus felt as well, possibly for their first time. In gratitude, they name Meggan "Gloriana," and always wanting a super-hero name, she takes it.

Meggan then leaves instructions for her army, to set up a new territory called Elysium (and give Pluto his due) then she begins her quest to find a way out of hell. Which she does, eventually finding what appears to be moonlight streaming in, a reminder of her early, werewolf-inspired days. But it's not just moonlight, it's a "fellow gypsy..."
Also this issue: a cricket match, in "British Magic" Written by Paul Cornell, art by Adrian Alphona. Brian Braddock, Captain Britain once again, is a bit distracted during the game; thinking of Meggan. But he remembers what she would've wanted for him in the end. And hey, an Excalibur era flashback with Kurt and Meggan playing video games!

I didn't read this title when it was new; and I'm not positive why not. I really liked Cornell's earlier Wisdom. Maybe I was just broke at the time...
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Thursday, May 17, 2018

I was thinking I might've bought today's book with Tuesday's, because sometimes if I'm going though a quarterbox, an annual or special seems like a good get, right? Extra pages, usually a self-contained story, even if it's not necessarily a life-changing issue. (That said, there's a couple annuals I love more than anything, but this wasn't one of them!) I wasn't super-impressed with this one, but then I found out I missed the first half! Here's part two, from 1997, the Amazing Spider-Man '97, "...Before the Dawn" Written by Roger Stern, pencils by Tom Lyle, inks by Robert Jones, with Kurt Busiek as "unindicted co-conspirator"!

Dr. David Lowell, better known as Sundown, has just been released from prison. What, you don't know him? Yeah, me either, since I missed Untold Tales of Spider-Man '97, which kind of sounds better: Lowell had been an Osborn Chemical employee (before it became Oscorp, apparently) working on a "photogenesis process" that Norman didn't sign off on. In fact, Norman shuts him down and orders his work destroyed. In a scuffle, his formula was accidentally dumped on him, giving him a pretty impressive batch of powers after he fell into the solar lamps. As Sundown, he went on the rampage, facing Spidey and Marvel's entire 60's lineup; before he inadvertently injured a young girl, Mary Kelleher, who would lose an arm.

After serving his time, Lowell is approached by an Oscorp employee (that had been partially responsible for his accident) but turns them down. That meeting interrupted the mob's attempt to sign him: later, mob boss 'Lucky' Lobo (a Lee/Ditko creation!) tells him it sure would be a shame if something happened to Mary Kelleher's other arm. Sundown fights Spidey, but it's for show: together, they turn the tables on Lobo, and Sundown is free to slink off into obscurity like he wanted. Spidey wasn't sure if that would work, but guess so!

While Lowell walks the city and laments the changes he missed and mistakes he made, it's juxtaposed with Peter and MJ together: despite all the drama of being Spider-Man, he had it pretty good.

This held up a little better on the re-read; it might even be halfway decent with the Untold Tales issue to go with it.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I know Wakandan science is the new hotness, but I also know the Black Cat could beat Panther's security. I'm not as sure if that's because she's good, or because she's lucky. And while Satana certainly has no interest in Cat stealing anything she wants, if she sees it as a slight or an injustice, she would do about anything to get her that necklace if it came down to it.

Oddly enough, that's my last Satana/Black Cat strip scheduled...but I'm reasonably sure they'll be up to no good sooner or later.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

We saw the 1994 Warren Ellis written one a couple years back, and I swear I have another one lying around somewhere, but today we've got another Ghost Rider annual: from 2008, Ghost Rider Annual #1, "The Eleventh Hour" Written by Stuart Moore, pencils and tones by Ben Oliver, color art by Jose Villarrubia.

At that time, Johnny Blaze had escaped from hell but released Lucifer in doing so. Lucifer's soul was broken into 666 pieces (that's a little on the nose, don't you think?) and each piece went into a recently deceased corpse. Johnny had to hunt down and destroy each one, although every one he killed, the rest got stronger. That sounds like the plot engine for a mid-budget TV show, but doable; yet it's only the background for this issue. A Lucifer avatar hits a bar, and kills everyone in it for kicks, except for a man he recognizes and calls "Eleven." Eleven wants to set up a meeting, I think with Johnny Blaze? It's not entirely clear. The avatar thinks he doesn't need Eleven around to double cross him, and then kills him when he backtalks with some scripture. But, after what would be low-budget effects on TV, Eleven comes back to life in the body of the dead bartender. He remembers being there for Jesus's crucifixion, and seems to also remember time in Hell and Heaven. But he seemed to on the outs with both.

For whatever ulterior motive he might have, Eleven wants to ingratiate himself to the Ghost Rider, and intervenes in his fight with this Lucifer avatar. Seemingly mortally wounded, he asks the Rider to show him what he really is, and the Rider uses what I'm guessing is the Penance Stare, even though the Blaze Rider didn't have that back in the day. Eleven appears as a devil, then as an angel, the latter he did not intend to show: imploring himself to "keep it together," he tells the Rider Heaven deserves his wrath more than hell.

As a confused Johnny considers what happened, Eleven moves into a seagull, plotting to see Johnny again. I don't know if he did, or if Johnny wrapped up all the Lucifers, since Ghost Rider has probably had two resets since then. I also don't know how I got this comic; I'm betting out of a quarter box. It's bland and confusing: I think Eleven was supposed to be a disciple, but looking it up the eleventh was usually Jude, who I don't think traditionally had powers or was interesting. The bar scene is derivative as all get out: one character's trying to have a conversation on a pay phone during the mayhem, while another at the bar doesn't seem to notice what's happening until his heart is punched out. Oddest of all, the color palette is really subdued. A guy with a flaming head should maybe pop a bit more.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Of course, I had to play it so much I might be sick of it now.

I've been playing Marvel's Contest of Champions game for about a year and a half now, and while I've been having fun, it bugged me that I didn't get a Nightcrawler for a long time, and he was only a three-star. (Out of five.) Then the other day they had a four-star Nightcrawler as a prize, based on rank rewards.

To explain that, the game has milestone and rank rewards: the milestones are clearly marked, get X amount of points, get this prize. But the rank rewards are based on other players' scores as well, and I had no idea how many points I would need to make the top ten percent to get Nightcrawler. The milestone rewards top out at a million and a half; and I thought maybe three million would get a high enough ranking. Then I hedged my bet by grinding out fights to four million. Then I went for the extra super bonus by pushing all the way to 5,367,306; which was only good enough to be ranked 193! Still, I finally have that four-star Nightcrawler.

Now, to level him up...

Meanwhile, since I spent so much time playing games, I'm behind on posts! Well, a better one tomorrow. Although I don't think it was a great comic, but we'll get to it.
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Friday, May 11, 2018

Every time I see this cover...

...I can't help but think of this.

From 1981, Marvel Super-Heroes #101, reprinting 1972's Incredible Hulk #153, "The World, My Jury!" Written by Gary Friedrich, with extra dialogue by Roy Thomas, pencils by Dick Ayers and Herb Trimpe, inks by John Severin.

Recently captured by the Fantastic Four (with help from Spider-Man and Daredevil) the Hulk is facing trial, charged with "conspiracy against the well-being of every citizen of these United States." That's a bit much: I'd have to admit the Hulk's probably smashed up a chunk of Nevada or New Mexico, but he's never done anything to Montana or Maine...Matt Murdock comes in for the defense, feeling that the Hulk was "as much sinned against as sinning," but the deck may be stacked against him. The court date is rushed forward, possibly because the government doesn't want to give the Hulk the chance to escape, but leaving Matt little time for a defense strategy. But it feels like a show trial: with the Hulk gagged and bound during jury selection, Matt's pretty sure he's not going to get an impartial jury. (To say nothing of finding the Hulk's peers!)

While there are some protesters on the Hulk's side, the man is coming down hard on him, with General 'Thunderbolt' Ross up first to testify...which we don't actually see, at all. Instead, there's a cutaway to the Baxter Building, where current D.A. Foggy Nelson meets with Mr. Fantastic, who is fretting over the "Nega-Gamma" weapon he used to capture the Hulk: it should've turned him back into Banner, but didn't. Meanwhile, the Avengers show up in court as witnesses for the defense, but are blocked from offering any opinions. Matt is left no choice but to have the Hulk testify, but his ranting indicates he's not really competent for that. Still, the judge pushes on, until Mr. Fantastic enters the courtroom...through an airvent! He thought his Nega-Gamma might be able to cure the Hulk, which the Hulk wasn't really keen about.

Instead of curing the Hulk, though, it gives him just enough strength to escape! The prosecution is pissed, but can't prove Reed didn't just make a mistake; but Matt is pretty sure. And in the south Bronx, the under a pile of rubble, since his full strength hadn't returned yet.

Also this issue: A Herb Trimpe "Star Hulk" pin-up! Why...just because.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

We're coming up on the twelfth anniversary of this blog, and in all that time we've looked at two issues of Master of Kung Fu? At this, unlike Warlord, I don't even see the possibility of getting through all those! I don't have anywhere near a full run of MOKF, but I do keeping grabbing them out of the quarter-bin; partially because when else am I going to see those? From 1976, Master of Kung Fu #42, "The Clock of Shattered Time" Written by Doug Moench, pencils by Paul Gulacy, inks by Tom Sutton.

After that cool opening, the first few pages jump around, as scenes of Shang arguing with M.I.6 chief Sir Denis Smith are interposed with a fight between Shang and Shock-wave. Smith is getting fed up with Shang picking and choosing the missions he accepts, but Shang's moral code prevents complete involvement in his "games of deceit and death." Shang walks away from the argument, and Smith follows, which saves him from a bomb planted in his office! A really loud and obvious bomb, but still. Smith is unshaken, however, brushing that off when presented with a coded message from an operative...

Elsewhere in the building, as Shang was on his way to meet Black Jack Tarr, spies Reston and Larner try to give him a warning about Shock-Wave, but they can't tell Smith, for reasons they won't tell Shang. Shang has little patience, or perhaps interest, in their spycraft wordgames, but maybe should've paid some attention to Shock-Wave's backstory: a former M.I.6 operative, injured on a mission, who had himself rebuilt with metal plates and an electric exoskeleton, only to be told he couldn't come back to work.

Finally meeting with Tarr, Shang joins him on an investigation of a warehouse that could be a front, which leads to a fight with Shock-Wave. Shang can't touch him without getting shocked, so he gets shocked repeatedly, and is only saved by Tarr taking a potshot at Shock-Wave, who splits. Shang passes out later, in front of Smith; and Tarr worries that he had always seemed invulnerable before, but not now. Back at their own headquarters, Shock-Wave was also responsible for the earlier bombing, and there's a traitor in M.I.6 as well. Still, even without having the next one yet, I don't think there were a lot of recurring villains in this series besides Fu Manchu, so I'd be surprised if Shock-Wave lasted the next issue through!
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