Tuesday, June 30, 2009


What a difference twenty years makes.

Forgive me for sounding whiny and behind the curve, but this old ad I encountered spakred some emotions.

In 1988, for the Legion Of Super-Heroes 30th Anniversary, we got excited full page house ads, super-sized 64 page spectaculars celebrating Legion artists past and present, a 7-issue Who's Who In The Legion series, a special issue of Secret Origins...it a veritable festival of Legion-ality!!

Compared to the Legion's 50th Anniversary, wherein we got...

...sounds of crickets chirping...

...Legion canceled mid-storyline, writer fired, no regular Legion series being published for the first time in 5 decades, no specials, no hoopla...

And if Legion Of 3 Worlds ever finishes up, then we'll have the Legion back...as a back-up series. Actually, not the Legion--it's apparently a series of solo stories starring Legionnaires. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky to be getting that much.

As I said, what a difference 20 years makes.

Ad from Question #14 (1988)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Manic Monday Bonus--Hub City Jokes

Did you here the one about...

Stop me if you've heard this one...

I just heard this funny one...

Even foreign countries are getting in on the comedy gold mine:

I've goot a million of them, folks...

From Question #8 & #10 (1987)

Manic Monday--Flash Rebirth Preview From 22 Years Ago

Oh, wait a moment...that's the other time the Flash had the "touch of death."

So sorry for the confusion again...

Ad appeared in Question #7 (1987)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Fourth Member--Does Whatever A Fourth Member Can

Well, following their debacle of re-enlisting Medusa despite the fact that everyone on Earth knew that she was a good guy now, the Frightful Four had laid low for a while.

But no longer!! In Marvel Team-Up #2 (1972), the remaining three losers have decided that it's time to strike!!

Of course, they have set their sights a little bit lower. Instead of crushing the Fantastic Four, the Wizard's group for the first time had a different goal: to break into the Baxter Building when most of the FF was away, siphon a bunch of energy from the Negative Zone, and...well, do something evil with it, I guess.

Now, I'll have to confess--I don't own this issue. I read it, many moons ago, from a friend's collection. And as much as I love you guys, I'm not going to go spend $15 just so I can reprint pictures and do a detailed re-cap of what was a fairly crappy story. Instead, let me refer you to this quite complete recap, while I make some observations about how this story fits into the Frightful Four Saga.
  • OK, so the first person the Frightful Four ever recruited ended up a good guy who betrayed them. Really, is the next logical step to brainwash a hero into being your fourth member? There's no shortage of "worthy" villains out there in 1972 (although maybe none were as incompetent as this trio...). The Wizard already tried this tactic, back in the Frightful Four trilogy in FF #41-43, when he used his Id machine to brainwash the Thing. How'd that work out, Wiz??
  • That being said, taking control of Spider-Man was a good tactic to gain entrance to the Baxter Building. And it led to the Torch getting taken out like a sucker early. But...the entire "recruitment" of Spider-Man takes place off panel!! We don't see how the Four capture Webhead, we don't see how they convert him, and we never get so much as a single word of explanation. Spider-Man just shows up as a bad guy outta nowhere. Pretty poor storytelling by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru...
  • It's also unclear why the Wizard's brainwashing techniques are so poor this time. Earlier, he had the Thing completely converted to evil, and it took Reed several issues of a terribly dangerous procedure to cure him (barely). Now, I'll grant that Reed would have taken steps to make sure that the Id machine couldn't work against the FF again. But Spider-Man? Johnny Storm just Oprahs him into being good again: "Please, Spidey, don't be evil!" "OK. Thanks!!" So the lame set-up engenders the lame resolution.
  • Really, the Wizard has got to stop putting himself in direct comparisons to Reed Richards. He claims to be the only other one in the world who could understand the Negative Zone tech as well as Reed...but in the simple act of draining power, he frees Annihilus. Oops. Fortunately, Spidey saves the day...by unplugging the machinery. Yup, one of Reed's super-duper scientific devices can be stopped just by pulling the plug from the wall. Sigh...
  • After at least temporarily incapacitating all of the Fantastic Four in all of their previous appearances (and last time only three of them were enough), this time the Frightful Four can't handle Spider-Man and the Human Torch. That's not progress. guys.
So, the first appearance of the Four outside of the FF is pretty much an even bigger loserpalooza than all their other attempts. At least they weren't taken out by a giant, magical kitty cat this time. Don't worry, they'll be back before the year is out...with an actual new villain this time (uhhh....maybe sorta)!!

Hey, you know what would be really cool? A scene where the Wizard and Doctor Doom are in the same room, and the Wizard goes off on one of his "I'm Reed Richard's equal" rants, and Doom just pees himself laughing. And then kills the Wizard. That'd be cool.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lazy List Day

No time for a real post today...so here's a couple of links you might enjoy.

Here's the results of fan voting on Marvel's site for the best 100 (Marvel or Timely) covers of the past 70 years. Really? That's #1?!? That wasn't even the best cover of the month it came out, let alone the past 70 years. Sigh, what do you expect...

And here is IGN's list of the top 100 comic villains ever. They don't say how their rankings were compiled, but some thought clearly went into them. Still, as you get near the bottom, your head might explode from some of the comparisons: Electro a better villain than Hunter Rose? The Mandarin ranked below Mirror Master and Sandman???

Have a nice weekend.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Night Fights--Joplin Style!!

Time, my friends, for another one of my Friday Night Fights specialties--Man-on-animal-action!! (Fact: I'm still the #1 Google hit for "man-on-animal action." Life is good.)

And, we have to combine that with one of my other recurring motifs, Master of Kung Fu.

And then we have to wrap it all up in music, because Spacebooger has declared that this is G7: Fight Music!!

Hmmm, how am I making to make this all work?? Let's see, Fu Manchu must have something hanging around one of his old fortresses...

Yes!! All right, take it away, Janis Joplin!!

I guess I’m just like a turtle
That’s hidin’ underneath its horny shell.

Whoa, whoa, oh yeah, like a turtle
Hidin’ underneath its horny shell.

But you know I’m very well protected —
I know this goddamn life too well.

Oh! Now call me mean, you can
call me evil, yeah, yeah,

I’ve been called much of some things around,
Honey, don’t ya know I have!

Whoa, call me mean or call me evil
I’ve been called much of some
things, all things around,

Yeah, but I’m gonna take good care of Janis, yeah,
Honey, ain’t no one gonna dog me down.

Shang-Chi risks salmonella by fighting a giant-ass turtle in Master of Kung Fu #125 (1983), by Alan Zelenetz, William Johnson, and inks by Mike Mignola.

Lyrics to Turtle Blues.

And the "video":

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More, Please

Dear DC,

Please give us an ongoing series based on this:

As near as I can tell, this is the greatest concept for a comic EVER.

Also, as near as I can tell, James Robinson has concocted Will Von Hammer out of thin air.

Oh, his super-hero great-grandfather (?? your syntax is a bit muddled here, Mr. Robinson), Stormy Foster, was real enough:

He debuted in Quality's Hit Comics #18 (1941), and lasted a couple of years.

And as a German with the name Von Hammer, well, the sky is the limit.

But Will, himself, smart and partially invulnerable private detective who ends up fighting super-powered muscle in bizarre cases? Perfection.

The series almost writes itself. And if you can get Howard Chaykin to draw it, well, I'm first in line, DC.

P.S. Hey, DC, isn't kind of odd that we have all of these Legionnaires hanging around the 21st century (The Lightning Saga, Starboy, Tellus, Mon-El) but we can't seem to justify a series set in their own time?!? What the heck is up with that??

Best comic proposal EVER from Superman #689 (you know, the magazine that Superman never appears in), by Robinson, Renato Guedes, & Jose Wilson Magalhaes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Marvel 1990s Apology Tour

First, we get X-Men Forever, which, well, how to describe this? It lets Chris Claremont pick up the X-Men continuity from Adjectiveless X-Men #3, when he quit/was dumped from the title. He's going to tell the stories that he would have told had Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio not taken over, and he'll ignore the last 18 years of X-continuity.

OK, crazy, sure. It sounds like an odd vanity project and all. But essentially harmless.

But then there's this from the Marvel's September solicits:
Penciled by TODD NAUCK
You’ve been asking for it...and now it’s here: THE CLONE SAGA!!! Marvel’s most controversial event of all time returns with a vengeance, presenting the Clone Saga as it was originally intended to be told! From the minds behind the crossover that changed comics forever and the artist that introduced Spider-Man to President Obama, it’s six issues of twists and turns that will shock fans old and new alike! Be here as Peter Parker’s worst nightmare begins again...now with an ending you have to see to believe!
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99

So...now we're going to have a series telling the Clone Saga story as it would have been had editorial and marketing not frelled it up.

This is pretty heady stuff. This is current Marvel editorial essentially saying that they frakked up their two biggest franchises back in the 1990s. It's as if they're going back and apologizing for their screw-ups, which is very un-Marvel.

I suppose next we can expect a series showing what would have happened had they not had Johnny Storm marry a Skrull, and a series detailing what would have happened had Heroes Reborn never happened.

And there's now hope, that 15 or so years from now, we'll get a 6-issue limited series detailing what would have happened in Spider-Man had One More Day never happened.

Well, we can hope.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coming Soon--Ultimate Secret Wars??

One of my big objections to what (admittedly little) I've seen of the Ultimate Universe is the completely wasted opportunity.

Created to be an entry point for new readers, to negate the need for knowledge of 40 years of continuity, the Ultimate books were in a perfect position to tell brand new stories, create brand new characters, and go where no Marvel has gone before.

Instead, all too often, the books seemed to be a race to introduce as many "Ultimate" versions of Earth-616 characters as possible. Damn the original story ideas, here's Ultimate Cable and Ultimate Stryfe and Ultimate Scorpion and the Ultimate Galactus trilogy and Ultimate this and Ultimate that. Rather than an entry point for new readers, they were marketed to attract old readers: "Come see our new version of X and Y!!"

I'm probably being unfair, because I haven't read many of these, but the Ultimate line just came across as Heroes Reborn with a more respectable pedigree. Same heroes, "different" universe, keep reintroducing the same characters we already knew. Instead of going original places, it looked like one huge extended "What If?" riff, re-telling stories they read in your youth with a "modern" spin.

Then along came Ultimatum, which looked like it promised an all-new start, a way to break away finally from the ghosts of Earth-616 and tell new stories, not echoes of past Marvel glories. They couldn't punt it this time, could they?

And then we get this solicit:



Stay tuned for Ultimate Kree-Skrull War, Ultimate Contest of Champions, Ultimate Infinity Gauntlet, Ultimate Celestial Madonna Saga, Ultimate Demon in a Bottle, Ultimate...

Their new motto should be:

Ultimate Comics: Retelling Classic Marvel Stories So We Don't Have To Think Of New Ones...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Manic Monday--The Whirligig Of Time

There are moments when I really hate a "rolling timeline."

Oh, don't get me wrong...I understand and agree with the necessity of such a fiction. We can't have Ben Grimm being 90-something years old, so we gently massage his back story so that instead of fighting in WWII, he fought in Korea...or Vietnam...or any day now, Gulf War I.

And if we want to say that Peter Parker really hasn't been fighting crime for 45+ years, hey, I'm down with that. Say he's 30 now (?), and I can play along with the fiction just fine, thank you.

But sometimes, the technique calls way too much attention to itself, especially when creators are trying too hard to be clever and specific, and cognitive dissonance sets in HARD.

Case in point: Captain America #600. One of the back-up stories, by Mark Waid and Dale Eaglesham. We're having an auction of a vast amount of Cap memorabilia, including this:

Now, this bears a closer examination:

We're clearly told that this is Cap's ORIGINAL Avenger's ID card. It's his first, the one that Tony Stark welcomed him into the modern world with. And later in the story, Stark himself verifies its authenticity.

Now take a closer look at the card, specifically, the president's signature on the bottom line.




OK, slow down, breathe...

You mean Cap wasn't thawed out until the Clinton Administration??

You mean Cap missed Watergate?? And so he didn't unveil Nixon as head of the Secret Empire?!?

So Cap missed the Bicentennial??!!??

Cap slept through the Civil Rights era and Vietnam and Gulf War I?!?

Cap missed disco?!!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!!?!?!

See what I mean?? Waid and Eaglesham just should have left it vague...Yeah, maybe it makes sense to do it this way within the Marvel chronology, but it just feels soooooo wrong.

At least now Cap never had to see the 1990 movie...

Speaking of the whirligig of time (thanks, Bill S.), this is post #700 around these here parts. But I don't want to feel too old, so maybe I'll backdate everything to say I didn't start posting until last month...

Important note: unlike Cap, I don't have to count the first 58 issues of Tales of Suspense, in which he didn't even appear, in order to have 600 make sense!!

Anyhoo, thanks to everybody who reads, lurks, comments, enjoys, mocks, disagrees, or just skims by. It's a gas, and I ain't stopping anytime soon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Golden Age Idol--Captain Truth!!

Captain Truth? Who he??

Let's travel back to the halcyon days of 1958 and Great Action Comics #1 when a bold new hero made a blazing debut:

A closer look, if you please:

Well, he doesn't look too bad. Sure, the hat with ostrich plume is a little goofy, and I don't know quite what to make of those cuffs...but he looks like presentable enough a chap.

Ahh, but wait. I've played a little trick on you. This wasn't really Captain Truth's debut. This is a reprint comic, you see, reprinting portions of Gold Medal Comics #1 from 1945. And that's not exactly Captain Truth's real costume...

I don't know whether it was to mollify the Wertham crowd, or because I.W. Publishing's editors had a wee bit more modesty than those of Cambridge House in 1945. But that cover was re-colored or re-drawn. Because in his original 1945 debut, Captain Truth looked like this:

Oh, sweet merciful heaven...He's dressed like Puss-In-Boots, but without the blessing of concealing hair...

And this is how he's "dressed" throughout the interior (and no, they didn't redo those interiors for the 1958 reprint...only the cover). Holy heck, let's take a look, shall we?

Apparently written and drawn by Bob Fujitani, this was Captain Truth's only appearance...and it's hard to see why he didn't catch on (or catch his death of cold).

It's unclear whether of not Captain Truth had any actual superpowers besides flight...one might suggest he has a superhuman lack of modesty...

...or the ability to frighten evil-doers with his barely concealed crotch.

No insecurities here...Captain Truth let's it all hang out.

And considering that he's wearing less than Silver Age J'onn J'onzz, one has to salute his courage.

Did I mention that his only actual garment is...ahem...extremely form fitting?!

He's got a flair for drama...

...and his cape conveniently disappears when Fujitani wants to show off Captain Truth's hunky body.

Did I mention that there's a whole lotta nearly naked hero action here?

All larfs aside, there is an actual plot here:

That's right, the crooks are being paid big money by the Nazis to steal light bulbs, as they contain tungsten (Remember, this was 1945...) So what is the ultimate result if Captain Truth doesn't thwart this light bulb pilfering group??

That's right: starving schoolchildren, and we lose New Guinea to the Japanese. So save those light bulbs, kids!!


Ken Elliot (Captain Truth's secret identity) comes home to find that he and his neighbors have all been evicted--even though they've already paid their rents!! What gives?!?

Oh, man, there's no way that Captain Truth will put up with this frakking BS, right?

Captain Truth--Dumbass Servant of The Man.

So, we've got a near-naked hero flying around, powers really kind of unknown, no origin at all...and he's down with poor people sleeping in the streets as long as the slumlord shows him some hypothetical blueprints. Whaddya say, Randy Jackson???

I still don't know what that means...sorry, Captain Truth, but you're rejected. Now go put on some clothes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Marvel 1999 Week--Uncanny X-Men #369

Looking back at Marvel 1999, I'm stricken by the irony.

What irony is that??

Well, first off, Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld made their bones on X-comics, right? Then they leave for greener pastures, while spending much of the next decade publicly dissing Marvel.

Then, after trying to unsuccessfully imitate those guys for much of that same decade, Marvel throws up the white flag, and actually comes up with a crazy plan to outsource many of their books to these guys' studios!!

But even though these guys were best known at Marvel for the X-books; and even though an X-villain was the plot catalyst for Heroes Reborn; and despite the fact that Marvel was giving relaunches to flagships like Hulk and Spider-Man that weren't even involved in Heroes Reborn...despite all that, the X-books were not included in Heroes Reborn, and were not given any kind of relaunch.

Life is weird sometimes, eh?

Because if any franchise were in need of a fresh start in 1999, it might have been the X-titles, which (to me) still seemed mired in a perpetual "find-a-hot-artist" phase from the middle 1990's, and also seemed stuck in the Claremont wannabe groove.

Case in point:

Uncanny X-Men #369. Now, from the cover, this may look like just another Juggernaut story. Oh, if only it were a straight-up fight like that. Nope, we're going 100% mental and extra-dimensional here...

I should note that in the late 1990s, Uncanny X-Men and Adjectiveless X-Men were essentially being run as one bi-weekly comic, with largely the same creative teams and different chapters of the same stories.

Which means that, if you don't have the issues of Adjectiveless, you might get confused (damn you, GITcorp discs!!). Or rather, I might get confused.

So let's see...in Uncanny X-Men #368, the X-Men were attending the funeral of Joseph, who was a clone of Magneto (!) and apparently a really swell guy. Then some aliens (?) showed up and hijacked our heroes to another planet/dimension. The story continued in Adjectiveless, and then continued again here, so we should be able to figure out what's what easily enough, right?

Huh?!? What the?!? How'd we get here? Who's responsible for this?!?

Well, they're not going to be any help. And Ororo's just as confused as we are...

Of, course, the answer is the old standby: lost in a psychic trance.

Sounds like it's time for some mutant-powered exposition:

So...the X-Men have been summoned by the Oktid (?) to save their race from a possessed and run-amok Juggernaut. But not just a normal possessed amok Juggernaut...

A mystically empowered super duper Cyttorak-spewing Juggernaut. Who is huge and can smash between dimensions and space-time. Because.

Special note about our guest, Black Tom Cassidy...you can tell he's a bad guy because he's Caucasian and has "black" in his name. I'm just sayin', not one of Claremont's better naming moments.

Anyhoo, Professor X's astral form is inside of Wolverine (ewwww), and they leap into the belly of the beast, as it were.

Oh, great, now we're in an astral plane/dreamscape, which I hate, because it's such a damned crutch for writers and artists. There are no rules on the astral planes, apparently, which frees them from logic and actually making sense. And allows for ridiculous deus ex machinas. Which is why the 90s X-Men relied on it so often.

Another benefit of the psychic realms? It enable really, really terrible jokes:

Seriously. He said that. Someone was actually paid to write that line.


Meanwhile, on whatever freaky mental plane Storm is trancin' on:

Oh, good...mental planes and mysterious omnipotent beings. That always makes for a good story.

Back to the boys, as Xavier finds the "real" Cain Marko and tries to comfort (and man up) the whiny beaten bully:

Then Storm lays down the law...

And Marko takes a punch, Frank Miller-style:

And while reality is ripping and shredding, Storm suddenly can somehow perfectly control those powers that, 5 seconds ago, she was "uncertain of how they might manifest themselves..."

Convenient. See what I mean about these psychic mumbo-jumbo stories?

So, who possessed the Juggernaut? Who was trying to destroy the Oktid? Why were the Trion such bitches? Why was Storm hanging with her Muppet Baby self? What the hell has been going on?!? Prepare to be choked with rushed, illogical psychobabble (click to enlarge, if you must, but I promise you, you'll only be hurting your brain):

Seriously. Not one syllable of that was hinted at previously. But they expected people to buy it.

Anyway, the Oktid are saved, they return the X-Men to Earth...but...

He's right, you know:

SPOILER ALERT: It's really a Skrull training world.

So, once again, we see why I never hopped back on the X-Men again. Because they were still living out their Image-wannabe era, trying to find artists who could plot (badly, obviously) and a penciller who , while "hot,"couldn't seem to string more than three issues together; more and more lame antics in "astral lands" and mental battles and stuff that was much better suited for Doctor Strange than the X-Men; and storylines and continuity so complex they'd baffle Mark Gruenwald. Blech.

So that's Marvel 1999. Some good stories, some icky. But Marvel was mostly free of the stigma of the 1990s, except in the canon that never got outsourced in the first place.Go figure.


Of course, the real reason Marvel never outsourced the X-Titles to Lee or Liefeld is that there were too damn many of them, and Marvel wouldn't let go of that much control of over a third of their line.

By my count, Marvel published 34 books cover dated June of 1999, and 13 of them were X-Titles. Along with the one we just covered, there was...

Cable #68...

Deadpool # 29...

Gambit #5...

Generation X #52...

Magneto Rex #2...

Mutant X #9...

Wolverine #139...

Wolverine/Punisher #1...

X-Force #91...

X-Man #52...

X-Men Unlimited #23...

...and Adjectiveless X-Men #89.

13 X-Titles...38% of your output. Great googly moogly.

Of course, it could have been worse...this coming Wednesday alone, Marvel will be releasing 39 comics, 12 of them X-Titles. Just. in. one. week.

Rats at the feeder pellet bar, anyone?