Monday, November 30, 2009

Beware of teh Fury

So I was reading through the issue of The Fury of Firestorm that I have to review, and noticed something particularly odd.

There's no actual Fury to be found!

Here's the best example that I could find in the whole issue, but let me set the scene first.

Ronnie Raymond (a.k.a. Firestorm, The Nuclear Man) is talking to someone who had their work ruined in the course of Firestorm saving the city a couple of issues back.

Look at all those BOLD words! There's someone who has such hatred for vigilantes that she's not willing to give Firestorm a fair shake. I mean, c'mon...give him a break. He saved the whole city, after all. If a few computer programs get erased in the process, I'd consider yourself lucky. Maybe you should just use this as a learning experience about backing up your work off-site.

There will be no mercy here, as she threatens to ruin him for good! Emphasizing her point with a balled-up fist, no less.

So what impassioned defense does Ronnie give? How quickly does he unleash the FURY?

Whoa? Really? Not even an exclamation point?

Maybe this is an off issue, but when you're most furious moment in the book can be summarized by quoting Joey Lawrence's catchphrase verbatim, I think it may be time to look at retitling your book.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so either, as this issue's letter column will attest. Take it away Daniel...

And what does editorial have to say for themselves?

Really? Legal red tape? That's what you're going with?

I wouldn't let Firestorm know you're hiding behind a bunch of lawyers, after wouldn't want him to unleash teh Fury on ya!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

January 16th, 2161...Save the date!

Don't look now, but it's time to pick another random book from the longboxes to review. As always, now that I have your undivided attention, let me have my few moments on the soapbox. No lectures this week, just some fun with numbers.

As some of the eagle-eyed readers of this blog may have noticed, The Randomizer sits on the right-hand sidebar of this blog. That's what I use several times a week to pick the next book to review. Currently, it is set to generate a random number from between 1 and 12,922. That is how many comics are in my longbox that have a cover date before 2007.

This blog has been going on for just about 6 months now, and in that time I have reviewed 42 books. That means that it's taking me, on average, about 4.3 days between reviews.

If you then take that average and multiply it by how many books are in my longbox, that gives you 55,380 days (or not quite 152 years). So if I eventually want to review every book in my collection, that means that I'm less than four tenths of one percent of my way through.

I guess I better pick up the pace, eh? Just in case, I'd hold the date of January 16th, 2161 open. It's a Friday, so when I post the last review you know there's going to be one helluva party.

Enough future talk, what random book is next on the review chopping block?'s The Fury Of Firestorm #45 from March 1985, published by DC Comics!

So this makes about 5 picks in a row where I remember virtually nothing from my original read through. Why the hell do I read these books if I never retain anything?

Give it time. One of these days we're going to stumble across a book like Avengers #57, Sandman #21, or Superman #75. Those I could write a thesis on without ever having to take the book out of my longbox. Hell, I could probably draw a reasonable facsimile of the cover for you too (the Sandman one would probably be a tad on the difficult side, but I'd give it the old college try).

Today, however, we're blessed with going in cold turkey on Firestorm. Now "fury" is not a word I instantly associate with Firestorm, so I'm kind of intrigued to see how Samuel L. Jackson he gets with all of those villains on the cover. Join me in a day or two (or 4.3) for the review.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hawkeye (vol. 1) #3

TITLE: Hawkeye (vol. 1) #3


COVER DATE: November 1983


22 pages


From my first days of comic book collecting, Hawkeye has been one of my favorites. I've followed him from book to book, whether that was in The Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Solo Avengers, Avengers West Coast, or The Thunderbolts. Something about his roguish charm and effortless marksmanship, coupled with the fact that he never could catch a break, made him an extremely likable character. It's a shame he's not around anymore, but then most (if not all) of my Avengers have not fared very well in a post-Busiek/Perez world.

Now I feel like an old man complaining about how nothing NEW compares to the good old days. Come to think of it, I did have to walk uphill in three feet of snow to get my Avenger's books back in the day, so maybe I'm not so crazy after all...

So yeah, Hawkeye's a favorite. Still, it's probably been 20+ years since I've read this mini-series. I remember looking for other Avengers mini-series after reading The Vision & Scarlet Witch and realizing that they had an even older mini-series that took place before their maxi-series. The fact that it's been so long since I've read it means that I don't actually remember that much about what happened in it. The only memory that stands out is that this is the series where he and Mockingbird fall in love.

One last thing to note, and that is the penciler on this issue. It's obvious that I bought these back issues before I started paying attention to who the creators involved were, as I had no idea that Mark Gruenwald used to draw as well as write. He's definitely known for his writing skills now, but here he is pencilling the exploits of my favorite archer. It's going to add a whole new dimension to reading this story, so let's get to it.

Beating The Odds
  • Writer: Mark Gruenwald
  • Penciler: Mark Gruenwald
  • Background Assistant: Eliot Brown
  • Inker/Embellisher: Danny Bulanadi
  • Letterer: Joe Rosen
  • Colorist: Christie Scheele
  • Editor: Dennis O'Neil
  • Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
The issues opens up with a pair of villains, Oddball and Bombshell, spying on Hawkeye and Mockingbird as they land on the rooftop of Mockingbird's apartment. There they wait, as our unsuspecting heroes enter a trap, for they have rigged Mockingbird's apartment with explosives. Right on cue, the apartment building is rocked by an explosion.

Their celebrations are short-lived, however, as they spot Hawkeye and Mockingbird on the ground among the spectators who are watching the apartment building become engulfed in flames. Determined to kill the heroes, Bombshell and Oddball decided to try again, this time letting Oddball take the lead.

Gee Hawkeye, I wonder what your first clue was? Could it have been the complete and utter destruction of all of Mockingbird's worldly belongings? I'm just spit-balling here, but she may need just a tad more sympathy right about now.

Since they can't do much while the firemen extinguish the flames, Hawkeye and Mockingbird head out to grab a bit to eat. After the building has been secured, Hawkeye and Mockingbird return to look for clues about the explosion. It was a pretty thorough job, as nothing of Mockingbird's has escaped destruction. It's therefore a little odd, when Hawkeye finds an 8-ball lying undamaged on the floor. A clue!

Geez Hawkeye, what a set of stones! Everything that Mockingbird owns in the world just got destroyed, and you still made her treat for dinner? And you're taking her last $97?

After spending most of her money on new arrows for Hawkeye, the two decide to continue their investigation into Cross Technologies. It seems that the company is closing in on completing their oh-so-cleverly named "death device", so it's up to Hawkeye and Mockingbird to stop them before their hired hitmen can finish them off.

Now pennyless (did I mention that Mockingbird spent her last $97 on new arrows for Hawkeye? What is it about the "bad-boy" that makes women lose control?), the two take the subway uptown. There they run into Captain America in his civvies. Out to prove that he can handle things on his own, Hawkeye turns down Captain America's offer of help.

As they exit the subway Hawkeye is surprised by seeing another 8-ball, this time rolling on the floor towards him. He looks up to see Oddball taunting him from around the corner.

That's some pretty cutting edge political commentary in an early-80's comic book on that poster. Way to go Gruenwald!

Giving chase, Hawkeye and Mockingbird race to confront their pursuers. Doing their best to dodge the onslaught of billiard ball sized projectiles, Hawkeye takes a direct hit to the wrist, causing it to go numb.

Proving her super-hero bona fides, Mockingbird uses her battle-staves to swat away the incoming missiles with ease. That gives Hawkeye a chance to regain his composure and the chase in on again.

While Hawkeye tries to catch Oddball, Mockingbird is ambushed by Bombshell, who was disguised as a nun. She blasts Mockingbird in the back with an incendiary charge, but finds out that she was only playing possum to draw Bombshell within striking distance. It's not the wisest of gambits, as guns work just as well at point blank range and Mockingbird takes a direct hit from Bombshell's wrist gauntlets.

Farther up the subway station, Hawkeye and Oddball continue their game of cat and mouse. Oddball jumps aboard a train as it is pulling away, leaving Hawkeye to make a mad scramble to catch the rear gate of the departing subway car. Inside the car, Oddball has taken a hostage as Hawkeye enters.

No joke required, as the hostage takes one for the team by supplying his own.

Back to the chase, and Oddball has now jumped up into the rafters of the next station house. The epic battle of arrows versus spheres continues.

Which actually brings up an interesting point. Whose bright idea was it to make Oddball one of Hawkeye's villains? You do realize we're talking about a hero who fires shafts going up against someone with specialized balls? Sometimes "a cigar is just a cigar" and all, but I'm just saying...

Hawkeye's injured wrist is still giving him problems, so he pulls out the old bola arrowhead and lashes Oddball's arm to a nearby girder.

That is definitely some kinda trick arrow. Who knew the laws of physics were so easily suspended.

Finally having the upper hand, Hawkeye is just about get Oddball to spill his guts about who has hired them when he is hit from behind by a concussive projectile. It's Bombshell, and she's back to save Oddball's backside after taking down Mockingbird.

The two then leave the subway station with an unconscious Hawkeye and Mockingbird in their custody.


The big takeaway with this issue was that Mark Gruenwald wasn't a half-bad penciler. Some of the figures are a little stiff, and the backgrounds are a tad on the sparse side, but the storytelling and pacing are pretty solid. And if you can't have it all, I'd take the latter over the former any day.

The story, on the other hand, was a little on the light side. It's basically one big fight scene, interspersed with some rather obvious and over-scripted character developments. I don't have a whole lot of issues by Mark Gruenwald in my collection, but that seems to be a common trait in the few that I have read. Maybe I just haven't read the right Gruenwald stories, so one of these days I'll have to get around to reading Squadron Supreme and some of his earlier Cap stuff.

Good thing I was already a fan of Hawkeye when I finally got around to reading this story, as the Hawkeye charm was largely vacant in this issue. Although this series did give us the beginning of the Hawkeye/Mockingbird relationship, so there was at least one good thing to come out of it.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (C) Marvel Comics

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Superheroines on the march...and Hawkeye too!

I don't know about everybody else out there in internet land, but today's comic book day is absolutely monstrous. I think my LCS is pulling close to twenty books for me. I better get the next random book picked before I sit down for some reading, or it's never gonna get picked. But before then, let's play another round of Comic Book Days of Wednesdays Past!

And the first year for us to look at is 1967! It was the summer of love, and what were the kids spending their twelve cents on when they weren't playing with Slinkies, Etch-A-Sketches, or Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots?

It was the million dollar debut of the new Batgirl! I'm surprised that her first appearance wasn't until 1967, and not earlier. I would've lost good money on that bet.

We have time for one more trip to the past, and this time we're off to 1956! What were kids of the baby boomer generation spending their hard-earned dime on when they weren't playing with Play-Doh, Frisbees, or Yahtzee?

Why it's Patsy and her rival in love and fashion, Hedy!

Pop quiz time! Which one of these books was published at the height of the women's liberation movement? Bob Dylan used to say, The times, they were a-changin'. Although don't feel too bad for old Patsy Walker, as she would go on to become an Avenger as Hellcat! In your face Hedy Wolfe!

As always, thanks to the fine folks over at The Comic Book Database that make tracking down the issues for this feature way too easy.

So enough looking back, let's get ourselves firmly planted in the here and now and pick the next random book to review.

...and that book is Hawkeye (Vol. 1) #3 from November 1983, published by Marvel Comics!

     Alas, poor Hawkeye! I knew him, dear reader, a fellow of infinite
     jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a
     thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is!
     My gorge rises at it.

See you in a day or two for the review, where I promise no mention of the identity that dare not speak its name.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #41

TITLE: Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #41


COVER DATE: May 1992


22 pages


I gave Doctor Strange a lot of leeway in the 90’s, collecting this title up until it got knee deep into the Midnight Sons crossover, by which point it was near unreadable. The mid 90’s was not a kind period for the good doctor, as it seemed like there were more company wide crossovers and tie-ins happening than not. I’ve always preferred Dr. Strange working on the periphery of the Marvel universe, and all of the constant line-wide events seemed to draw him closer and closer to the mainstream superhero shenanigans.

There were, however, a couple of highlights. I remember Mark Buckingham’s run with Warren Ellis and J.M. DeMatteis that closed out this series as being really good. Too bad it didn’t set the sales charts on fire, as the title was cancelled within 10 issues.

The other interesting run was the twenty or so issues when Geof Isherwood was doing the artwork. I don’t remember the stories being especially strong or memorable, but the artwork was good. Geof eventually took over writing chores from Roy Thomas, but it was clear by that time that the title was in decline. It was only a matter of time before Marvel would do something drastic...enter Midnight Sons.

This particular issue is early on in Geof Isherwood’s run, and appears to be a filler issue featuring Wolverine. I’d like to say I remember something about it, but with all of the Wolverine guest-stars happening around this time, they all just sort of blur together.

A Wolverine At The Door
  • Writer: Roy Thomas
  • Artist: Geof Isherwood
  • Co-Plotter: Jean-Marc Lofficier
  • Letterer: Pat Brosseau
  • Colorist: George Roussos
  • Editor: Mike Rockwitz
  • Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco
It’s the middle of the night, and all is quiet in Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. Everything, that is, except for the basement where a familiar three clawed fist bursts from the floor. Pulling himself up, Wolverine makes his way upstairs into the private quarters of Stephen Strange and Clea. With a mindless stare, he begins to slash and hack at the sleeping sorcerers.

How to throw a slumber party the Mighty Marvel way!

Make sure that your guests know that no powers are allowed in any pillow fights!

The master of the mystic arts, however, will not be surprised so easily in his own house. Floating above the bed, Dr. Strange uses all of the usual Seraphims, Hoggoths, and Agamottos to deduce that Wolverine is more than likely possessed by the N’Garai. Knowing that they will have anticipated Dr. Strange responding with magic, he decides to fight Wolverine with the martial arts skills that he learned from Wong, in an attempt to take Wolverine by surprise.

How to throw a slumber party the Mighty Marvel way!

Always have plenty of opportunity for dancing!

Proving that she is more than mere arm-candy, Clea throws an enchanted silver dagger to Stephen, which he uses stab Wolverine. Out of the wound seeps the evil essence that was controlling him. Dr. Strange uses a Scarlet Sphere of Cyttorak to trap the essence, and with the Eye of Agamotto, he sees it’s true form...The Undying Ones!

If you’re unfamiliar with the Undying Ones, Dr. Strange goes into a three page monologue about who they are. I’ll spare you the recap and give you the bullet points instead. Dr. Strange and The Defenders defeated the Undying Ones previously, but a new Nameless One know leads them. They plan on using the magical doorways called Sa’arpools to kill Dr. Strange and conquer our dimension. Now let’s get back to the action.

Dr. Strange devises a plan to shut the Sa’arpools permanently with a crystal shard containing the essence of the earth goddess Gaea, but it’s only going to work from the other side. That means that he and Wolverine are going through the doors to the world of the Undying Ones.

How to throw a slumber party the Mighty Marvel way!

When sneaking out of the house after your parents are asleep, always make sure you sneak out of a ground floor window!

When they regain their footing in the monstrous dimension, Dr. Strange begins the incantation that will seal the gates for good. Before he can utter the final syllable, they are are attacked by a horde of Nameless Ones. The deomons manage to knock the crystal shard from Strange’s hand, and both it and Wolverine sink into a lake of green muck.

Wolverine fights the Undying Ones as they descend to the bottom of the muck, but they regenerate as quickly as he dispatches them. Overwhelmed, Wolverine swallows some of the muck which has the effect of transforming him and bringing out his wilder persona.

How to throw a slumber party the Mighty Marvel way!

Keep your party drug free, as they can quickly turn a fun party into a dangerous one!

In his berserker rage, Wolverine attacks both friend and foe alike. Strange manages to struggle free and locate the crystal shard. Uttering the final syllable of his spell, the shard begins to seal the doorways and purge the demonic influence from Wolverine.

With the demons momentarily incapacitated, thanks to Wolverine and his demonic fury, they decide to make a hasty retreat through the dimensional doorway before it seals completely. Using Dr. Strange’s Cloak of Levitation, they escape just as the Undying Ones awake and give chase. Alas, the demons just aren’t quick enough as the gate completely seals behind Strange and Wolverine, just as they make their way through.

How to throw a slumber party the Mighty Marvel way!

Be a courteous guest, and always make sure to help the host clean up afterward.

After inspecting the dimensional doorway to make sure that they are permanently closed, they decide to end the night with a drink or two. Surprisingly enough, Dr. Strange doesn’t stock beer at the sanctum santorum, but he does have some 12th century Prussian brandy that he’s been saving for a special occasion. Wolverine agrees, proving that maybe you can teach an old berserker new tricks.


Never show up unexpectedly for a slumber party at Dr. Strange’s house, as you never know what dimension you’ll end up in. Although as a silver lining, you could do worse than kicking back when all is said and done with some 800 year old brandy.

As a filler story, this issue was mildly entertaining. I could live a happy life without ever reading another Wolverine story, but I know that’s probably not going to happen. There was really no compelling reason that this story demanded that Wolverine be in it, so I’m sure it was a sales driven decision. And who can really blame Marvel for that, when Wolverine was raking in the cash, clawed-hand over clawed-fist.

Geof Isherwood’s art was good, if a little rougher than I recall. I don’t ever remember seeing his work again after he left this title. It’s a shame, as I think his work would really shine with some state of the art coloring and production techniques.

The only real clunky part of the story was the massive continuity info-dump that Roy Thomas gives us to explain who the Undying Ones are and what their connection to Wolverine was. Honestly, if you need to bring the story to a screeching halt to try to desperately convince us that Wolverine really is integral to this particular story, you’ve probably already lost that battle.

All in all, it’s a decent enough little filler story, but at the end of the day it’s still just filler.

All characters and artwork reproduced are © Marvel Comics

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Odds and sods

It's Monday, and what better way is there to celebrate the dawn of a new week with all of the challenges and opportunities it'll present than with some comic book talk. I'll start things off with some random thoughts that have been kicking around my brain over the last week.

  • Stargirl needs a new costume. Ten years has been plenty long enough for the mid-thigh spandex shorts and bare midriff. Her character has matured a great deal since she was a rebellious teenage girl, becoming a super-hero to spite her step-father. After all, she's got one of the coolest looking props around with Jack Knight's cosmic staff, so it's about time she had a costume to match.

  • Speaking of costumes, I'm a little underwhelmed with the Van Sciver redesigns of the Flash family in Flash Rebirth #5. Wally West's new costume is all right, but they really played it safe with that redesign. I hate the new duds for Jesse Quick. The Liberty Belle costume was a solid update on a classic costume. The new one? Not so much. The one I do really like is the new Impulse. The only problem I've ever had with Wally's kids was the overly-muscled one, so now that that's not an issue anymore I'm curious to see where this goes.

  • I've long been a fan of Carlos Pacheco, keeping an eye out for his work since I first saw it on the Star Jammers mini with Warren Ellis from the mid-90's. I think I realized this week, however, that I really should've been saying that I'm a fan of Jesus Merino instead. The longtime penciller/inker team are now at different companies and you can definitely see who had the dominant style. Merino's work on Justice Society of America is everything that I've come to enjoy from their work over the past 10+ years, while Pacheco's work on Ultimate Comics Avengers looks kinda boring. His storytelling and layouts are still strong, but his pencils lack that extra punch that used to make his work stand out.

  • I brought this up with the last installment of odds and sods, but it's worth mentioning again since I just read the latest issue last night. The Unwritten is still the strongest new title I've read in a long, long time. Don't let the obvious Harry Potter angle scare you off if you're not a fan of those books. I've never read a word of J.K. Rowling's work and I can't get enough of this book. Carey and Gross are doing some flat out phenomenal stuff with this title.

  • Postings been a little light lately, so my apologies. Having your computer infected with annoying adware tends to make you not want to turn it on some days, and I've found that to be somewhat counterproductive to a prolific blog. If you really want to be kept in the loop for new posts here, the best way to do that is to follow the blog. Click on the FOLLOW button to the right, and help brighten my week.

  • And finally, a quick shout-out is in order for the web site. If you do a google search for "Justice Society Jesus" to make sure you're spelling Jesus Merino's name right, they're listed first with a review of the comic before that other Jesus fella and all of his social justice stuff pops up. There's a website that knows how to massage the search engines!
Now that I got those out of my system, let's get the next random book picked to review.

...and that book is Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #41 from May 1992, published by Marvel Comics!

I hope y'all have your internet sarcasm detectors on, because "Yea, it's another Marvel book from the 90's!" That's three in a row, for everybody keeping score at home. "And is that Wolverine on the cover? Woo hoo!"

In all seriousness, I'm actually surprised that we've seen so little Wolverine on the blog up to this point. This is, after all, the twenty-first book from the 90's that we've reviewed and this is the first gratuitous Wolverine guest shot so far. I say we can consider ourselves lucky.

While I'm glad to see another Dr. Strange book pop up, I am disappointed that we've once again missed the Roy Thomas/Jackson Guice run that I fondly remember. Oh well, but it's like my mom always used to say...if you live by the Randomizer, you die by the Randomizer!

And speaking of the Randomizer, it appears to have gotten itself caught in a bit of rut. Not only is it stuck on 90's Marvel books, but this is the second pick in a row (and the third pick overall) from May of 1992. So while you're waiting for the review that'll pop up in a day or two, relive the time that was May 1992 over here and here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Darkhawk #15

TITLE: Darkhawk #15


COVER DATE: May 1992


22 pages


I honestly can’t remember if I used to like Darkhawk back in the day, or if I just bought it after getting caught up in the collector’s fever of a “hot” new character. I have the first two years worth of issues in my collection, so there must have been something I liked.

Thinking back, however, all I can recall are the things that bugged me. Like his grappling claw gauntlet, that while an obvious Wolverine influence, always seemed too gaudy and awkward. Or the melodramatic family that always seemed to fall into more wells than Timmy.

Let’s stop there before I get myself too negatively biased before I read the issue. After all, it’s not like there are any shortages of Darkhawk as punch line blog posts out there already.

This particular issue is part 6 of 6 of the “Heart Of The Hawk” storyline, so we're going to have to do our best to get up to speed in a very short time.

The Return
  • Writer: Danny Fingeroth
  • Penciler: Mike Manley
  • Inker: Ricardo Villagran
  • Colorist: Joe Rosas
  • Letterer: Bill Oakley
  • Editor: Nel Yomtov
  • Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco
And right off the bat we pick up with Darkhawk in a precarious situation as he has several rifles pointed right at his head. It’s the local gendarmes of some third world island nation, and it would appear that Darkhawk’s mission to find his father has not gone smoothly at all. As the soldier is gloating over the capture of Darkhawk, he explains to him that his father’s corpse has washed out to sea. Knowing that nothing more can be done here, Darkhawk realizes that he must escape and get back to his family in New York.

Normally, a bunch of militia would be no problem for him, but his amulet that powers his suit was recently torn from his chest by Tombstone. One stray bullet, and his suit won’t be able to heal him.

Never fear, however, as this is Darkhawk’s book after all and he does manage break away from the soldiers. He heads for the airstrip and manages to use his grappling hook to snag on to a airplane that is taking off. Once on board, the pilot happens to be a fan and agrees to fly him back to New York.

The first clue that you’re probably not going to make it out of the 90’s with your rep intact…

…you’re big getaway involves flying coach!

Now safely back in New York, the hole in Darkhawk’s chest where the amulet usually sits starts to tingle. He deduces it must be trying to reach out to the amulet, and decides to follow it. The amulet, meanwhile, is with Tombstone as he is consulting a psychic in a bid to try to get the amulet to work for him.

It doesn't take Darkhawk long to find him, as he bursts into Madam Rose’s studio and an epic back and forth game of hot potato ensues with the amulet. Darkhawk eventually gets the better of Tombstone with the help of some conveniently placed high voltage wires. Like in any good comic book, there’s always some around when you need them.

Reunited with the amulet, Darkhawk attempts to change back to his secret identity, but to no avail. He’s still trapped inside the armor with no way out. Worried that he’s going to die soon, he decides to sneak into the hospital to check up on his gravely injured brother.

The second clue that you’re probably not going to make it out of the 90’s with your rep intact…

…your idea of a stealthy disguise involves a “Where’s Waldo” scarf and a trenchcoat that looks like you lost your lunch.

While in the hospital in his awesome disguise, his other younger brother informs him that while he was gone his Mom has gone missing too! How child protective services has not stepped in and intervened yet is beyond me. A deathly ill brother, a creepy brother in a sick-stained trenchcoat, a missing mother…yeah, seems relatively normal.

Back out on the streets, it doesn't take Darkhawk long to track down where his mother is being held captive. The same crooked police officers who turned on his father have her held at gunpoint. She tries to reason with them, when they are interrupted by a knock on the door. Obviously, it must be the pizza man, or not…

The third clue that you’re probably not going to make it out of the 90’s with your rep intact…

…your best ad-libbed catchphrase is “No anchovies”?

The fourth clue that you’re probably not going to make it out of the 90’s with your rep intact…

…you’re still relying on your mom to fight all your battles!

After tying up the crooked cops for the real police, Darkhawk collapses from exhaustion in a nearby alley. Trying not to black out, his thoughts return to his father and all that he has left of his is his old notebook. In it, his father explains how he got involved with the crooked cops and let an innocent woman die. While rereading the notebook, Darkhawk makes a startling discovery!

The notebook doesn’t end with the death of the innocent woman. After an accidentally blank page, the notebook goes on to reveal that his father went back for the woman and didn’t let her die. He also planned on turning on the cabal of cops after they started to get too extreme with their crime fighting methods. His father wasn’t a crooked cop after all, but an honorable man caught up in a situation way over his head.

With just three pages left to wrap everything up, Darkhawk suddenly manages to tap into his amulet power again and is able to change back to his secret identity of Chris Powell. Back at the hospital, his brother awakens from his coma. His whole family is now reunited once again, with the new found knowledge that their dad and husband died an honorable man.

Seeing as how his dad gave the ultimate sacrifice trying to make the world a better place, Chris realizes that he must continue on as Darkhawk to carry on his father’s dream.


This issue honestly wasn’t as bad as I imagined it was going to be. Yeah, I had a little fun at Darkhawk’s expense, but we kid the ones we love.

Well, “love” is probably too strong a word. How about we kid the ones that we are forced to read by a random number generating program.

Much better…that practically rolls right off the tongue.

Danny Fingeroth brings the whole origin story to a conclusion that while ultimately satisfying, does seem a little rushed in the final pages. It did, however, instantly bring back memories of one of the main faults that I had with this book, and that was the supporting cast. For some reason I was never able to emotionally connect with his mother and brothers. Fifteen issues of family drama were just too much.

Mike Manley’s pencils are pretty good, but not as cool as I remember them from the time. He seemed to have a couple of pretty high-profile gigs back in the day, but the pencils here haven’t aged too terribly well.

So if you’re still reading this review, I know that there is one giant question that remains unanswered…is the series still in the ebay-ready box? Sadly yes, but that’s good news for someone out there who has some extra space in the “D” section of their longboxes.

All characters and artwork reproduced are © Marvel Comics

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Where's the love for romance books?

Usually I don't have much of a problem working on a blog entry with the t.v. playing in the background. Normally it's all just background noise reminiscent of the snowy static screen that used to exist when televisions actually had knobs that you could turn to some unused UHF channel. With the nature of cable and satellite television, and the onset of digital broadcasting, can you even get a snowy screen anymore?

Anyway, tonight is different as the background noise is Casablanca! And damn if it isn't some of the finest background noise you'll ever hear. You'd be hard pressed to find a smarter script, delivered with impeccable timing by outstanding performance after outstanding performance.

Sitting here watching that movie with my laptop, trying to come up with something to say about comics got me thinking about genres. There's been a nice little renaissance of various genres over the last ten years in the comic book industry, but there's something missing. Where is the globe-spanning, romantic love story, set in the backdrop of a world ravaged by war and political intrigue?

Are romance books the last great genre to be mined for a modern audience? Or are they just too anachronistic for today's readers?

I think the most recent book that I remember for the love story was, believe it or not, Preacher. Say what you will about Ennis' over the top scenarios and characters, but that book was in it's heart a love story between Jesse and Tulip. At times just as tragic as Rick and Ilsa, but at least (SPOILER WARNING) they get to be together in the end.

Maybe I'm just an audience of one, but I'd kill to have a long-range love story like that again. I'm open for suggestions, if anyone can think of a book that fits the bill.

In the meantime, let's see what the next random book to review is...

...and that book is Darkhawk #15 from May 1992, published by Marvel Comics!

     Of all the blogs, on all the internets, in all the world, and Darkhawk walks into mine.

And so we have the first book here at the Random Longbox that gets plucked from my ebay-ready longbox. I have the first two years of this title just waiting to find a new home, but my ebaying activities have been pushed to the back burner lately.

So consider this a last minute reprieve from the governor. Will Darkhawk be saved from death row? Will his sentence be commuted so that Darkhawk can be filed back into the general population? Come back in a day or two for the review to find out.

     I'm shocked, shocked to find 90's era comic books being reviewed in here?

     Your complete set of polybagged X-Force #1's, sir.

     Oh, thank you very much. Now everybody out at once!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cable #43

TITLE: Cable #43


COVER DATE: May 1997


20 pages


The cover to this issue is relatively generic, so it doesn't trigger any immediate memories as to what we are in for. The post Age of Apocalypse era of the x-universe has since become a giant blur as far as what I remember. I do remember one highlight of Cable from that era was when James Robinson and Ladronn took over the title. Unfortunately, we missed reviewing one of those as Robinson would take over with the next issue, and Ladronn a couple after that.

There is one small silver lining, however, as the cover blurb lets us know we are in for a peek into the Askani'son aspect of Cable's future-past. I've never really been a huge Cable fan, but I've always had a soft spot for the mythology that they created for his future. It seemed that during the 90's, characters from the future were a dime-a-dozen. The Askani always were a tad more fleshed out, so I never did mind seeing it addressed. It was definitely a more entertaining and original future world than the one that Bishop would come from.

One last item of interest before we start reading, and that is the fact that this issue features (a pre-K.) Brian Vaughan on script assist. I knew that he had worked in the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe before, I just had no idea that he did so before 2000. Just out of curiosity, I checked my database and I also have a Wolverine issue co-written by Dezago and Vaughan from 1998. That issue I remember vividly, as it was pulled for containing a Jewish racial slur. Although honestly, I didn't even realize it was there when I read it initially.

Enough sidebars, let's get reading.

Broken Soldiers
  • Script: Todd Dezago with Brian Vaughan
  • Pencils: Randy Green and Chap Yaep
  • Inks: Scott Hanna
  • Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft-AD
  • Colors: Mike Thomas
  • Editor: Mike Powers
  • Chief: Bob Harras
The story opens up in a rather mysterious monastery in the Swiss Alps. It is there, that members of the Askani tribe from the future are waiting and plotting for the right time to make Cable embrace his destiny as the Chosen One.

While they wait, the elder teacher begins to tell an important tale of Nathan Dayspring Summers' formative years in his dystopian future.

Parallel to that is a story of Cable in the present, fighting the good fight.

In the future, Nathan is leading one of his rag-tag band of rebels away from some pursuing New Canaanite's. They only get so far, when one of his soldiers gets pinned down in the crossfire. He orders the rest of his men to continue on to safety, while he will stay behind and rescue their comrade by himself. Deathwish much?

In the present, Cable is on hand while a rampaging mob of bigots chase down a suspected mutie. He confronts the mob as they bear down on the young boy. Just as he begins to lecture them about tolerance, they all start writhing in pain and clutching the sides of their heads.

Back to the future, and Nathan has caught up with the soldiers just as they are about to execute his friend. Standing before them, he attempts to use the mysteriousness of his being the Chosen One on the soldiers and scare them off.

They don't buy it, so he relies on the old chestnut that is "you're surrounded by my fellow rebels hiding in the hills." Needless to say, they don't buy that one either. Unlucky for them, however, Nathan's compatriots disavowed his orders and came back to help him. The New Canaanite's are gunned down in short order.

While Nathan talks to his second-in-command and apologizes for not relying on his fellow soldiers, one of those soldiers is off in the distance beating the crap out of one of the surviving New Canaanites.

Coincidentally enough, back in the present, Cable confronts the young mutant who now has his pursuing mob writhing in pain with visions of demons and monsters haunting their consciousness.

We get a glimpse over the next couple of pages of the wisdom of Cable, and why he is a natural born leader and teacher. He is able to make his fellow soldier realize that by killing their enemies in cold bold, they are no better than Apocalypse. In that instance, Apocalypse wins as his methodology takes hold.

In the present, Cable teaches the young mutant about power and responsibility. The hate that the young boy is feeling right now is human nature, but with the love and guidance of family, they can be overcome and make you a better man.

His story over, the Askani teacher tells his young acolytes that they must emulate the Askani'son and not let their anger be surrendered to the hatred.


Cable has obviously been re-reading his Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus since he arrived in our present, as he pretty much parrots Uncle Ben directly in talking to the young mutant. But it's a good lesson to learn, so who can blame him.

In all seriousness, this is a decent little filler story, but that's just about it. Filler stories, by their very nature, don't really drive the narrative forward much. This one takes the opportunity to tell a morality play, taking advantage of Cable's time travels to tell the same story from two different periods in his life, covering two different millenia.

The script is serviceable and does what it sets out to do in an economical twenty pages. If there is one downside, it's in the art department. There are two pencillers this issue with Randy Green handling the future stuff, and Chap Yaep handling the present day. Yaep's pencils are the rougher and less refined of the two, and the story of the young mutant suffers for it.

Randy Green's pencils are actually quite nice. They're a little cartoony for what I expect on a Cable title, but they work. The coloring of the future tale, however, leaves a lot to be desired. In attempting to separate the narrative, they have colored it in just shades of red and it doesn't really add anything to the story.

So if you're looking to jump feet first into some good 90's issues of Cable, I'd suggest starting with the James Robinson/Joe Casey era that starts next issue. While this issue was decent, only the Cable complete-ists are really likely to care.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy 40th!

It's time to pick a new book to review, and being Thursday I usually preamble a little through this week's books. That's going to be hard to do today, as I haven't cracked a single one open yet.

I know, I know...that's heresy!

This does, however, give me the opportunity to wish someone a very special 40th birthday. That's right, it is Mrs. Random Longbox's birthday today!

The Lois Lane to my Clark Kent
The Mary Jane to my Peter Parker
(sorry Mephisto, I choose to ignore you)
The Iris West to my Barry Allen
The Veronica to my Archie
(at least until next month, then I guess it's...)
The Betty to my Archie
The Susan Storm to my Reed Richards
The Jesse Chambers to my Rick Tyler
The Tulip O'Hare to my Jesse Custer
The Chay-Ara to my Khufu
(sorry, that one's just too confusing to know if that's a
compliment or not)
The Dian Belmont to my Wesley Dodds

Boy, there just aren't enough happily married couples around the world of super-heroes, are there? I guess that means that Mrs. RL is even more powerful than I had originally thought. Happy Birthday!

Now, on to the slightly less important business at hand of picking our next random book to review...

...and that book is Cable #43 from May 1997, published by Marvel Comics!

All right Randomizer, I realize that I previously mentioned the story of trying to impress my wife back in our dating days by reciting the convoluted history of the character Cable.

I'm sure she was just humoring back in the day, and probably doesn't need a Cable issue chosen in her honor. Oh well, what's done is done. See you in a day or two for the review.

...and if you wanna wish Mrs. Random Longbox a happy birthday, check out her phantastic, phabulous photography phor sale over here and here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Action Comics Weekly #642

Sorry for the lax posting of late, but helping the wife sell her art at Oddmall over the weekend took precedence. Then couple that with a 24 hour flu virus that came and went like the Juggernaut, and that had me paying more attention to the porcelain bowl than to the posting of what I'm sure would have been some nonsense blog ramblings.

What I really need is a nice little inspirational story about Green Lantern finding the willpower to get back up and fight the good fight, so without further ado...

TITLE: Action Comics Weekly #642


COVER DATE: March 1989


38 pages


When this title went weekly, I was knee deep in my Marvel zombie phase and it would still be a couple of years before I started reading Superman on a regular basis. That means that I don't recall much about this title originally. Even after I completed my collection, most of these stories remain unread. I went through and read the entirety of the two-page Superman strips, but I can't recall if I read this one or not. I guess we'll find out.

One of the things I did find interesting in doing a little research was that Neil Gaiman was originally solicited to write this issue, but was unwilling to change some key story points that didn't match up to the current status quo. It would appear his story had Superman and Green Lantern knowing each other's secret identities, but this didn't quite line up with the Byrne relaunch and it would later go on to be released out of continuity. This would have been right around the time that Sandman was starting up, and hindsight being twenty/twenty I'm so glad he took the path he did. Whether or not the problem with this issue had anything to do with it, I couldn't say.

We may have lost out on a nice little Neil Gaiman story, but we do have an excellent consolation prize with the artists that are featured in this story. I think it's time to dig in and give our eyes a treat.

"Where There Is A Will...!"
  • Writer: Elliot S. Maggin
  • Art: Gil Kane, Steve Ditko and Art Thibert, Jim Aparo and John Nyberg, Curt Swan and Ty Templeton, Jim Mooney and Akin and Garvey, Carmine Infantino and Kevin Nowlan
  • Colors: Glenn Whitmore
  • Letters: John E. Workman, Jr.
  • Editor: Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
The first page in and I'm getting a big sense of deja vu. Isn't this the same opening that was used on the last issue of Action Comics Weekly that we reviewed here? So we're back to the death of Abin Sur and the selection of the next Green Lantern of sector 2814 about to begin.

This particular version has Abin Sur's ring bringing Clark Kent to the crashed ship. There, Abin Sur asks Clark to look at several candidates to help him decide who should bear the ring next. This seems like a ham-handed attempt to tie Clark Kent and Hal Jordan together from the very beginning. This also flies in the face of the origin story that was told in this title not one year ago.

Come to think of it, how this re-imagining of Clark and Hal's relationship was more palatable than Clark and Hal knowing each other's secret identity seems strange to me. But it's early in the story, so let's see where things go next.

The opening scene is drawn by Gil Kane, but it's relatively short and he never does get much of a chance to show off his storytelling skills. Steve Ditko gets the next chapter, which has a bit more action as we catch up with Hal Jordan in present day returning to the salt flats of Utah to track down nuclear smugglers.

Hal tracks down where the fissionable nuclear material is being smuggled from and attempts to shut it down. It turns out that it's in the middle of a federal base. The nerve of these smugglers, stealing our good nuclear stuff right under our very noses.

Luckily for Hal, Major Easterly is soon on the scene.

Unluckily for Hal, he is placed under arrest for violations of security clearances too many to mention. In a very un-Hal Jordan-like move, he decides to play along for now and let himself be taken into custody.

While being escorted off base, he notices the very same soldiers that have detained him are the same ones loading the smuggled nuclear material onto the helicopter.

I think someone's seen Casablanca one too many times, not including me!

Hal has finally seen too much and takes it upon himself to end this charade. While attempting to stop the helicopter from taking off with the nuclear material, he gets shot point blank in the chest. Falling to the same desert sands where Abin Sur died, the ring begins the process of find a new successor.

Over the next eight pages we are shown the ring in the process of finding men without fear to take over the for the gravely injured Hal Jordan.

Among the collection of everyday heroes are Clark Kent, Guy Gardner, Nightwing, and Deadman in the body of a mugger. While Jordan lies unconscious, straggling the line between life and death, he weighs his different options. He can refuse a successor and finish his fight, or he can let go and just be done with it all.

Deadman takes the roll of devil, while Clark takes on the roll of angel. Both try their best to convince Hal on the most honorable path to take, but it's only after a third entity appears that Jordan finds the will to do what is right.

And who was that third entity?

It was none other than the ghost of Abin Sur made manifest by his ring. He goes on to tell Hal that his self-doubt is a gift and should be embraced as it makes him all the more powerful. I'm assuming that the core of Green Lantern's storyarc in this title has been one of self doubt, as we haven't really seen that displayed in this issue but everyone seems to be making a big deal of it now.

Realizing that Abin Sur was right, Hal fires up the battery and recites the oath that powers the Green Lanterns. The Green Lantern is back!

With his new found willpower back in action, he dismisses all of the candidates for his replacement that the ring had summoned and starts to track down the officer who was trafficking in smuggled nuclear material.

Hal Jordan is not the only one who has benefited from his realization, as each of the people once considered for his replacement are imbued with a small amount of the green light. When they are returned to the moment from when they were taken, they each use the green light in their own fashion to help the downtrodden and fight the good fight.

It doesn't take Green Lantern long to catch up to the major, and it takes him even less time to bring the helicopter down and stop the smuggling ring. Determined to play this one by the books, Jordan's next stop is to the Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. There he lays his belief in the law on the line. With Jordan's backing, the judge decides that he might just be able to put this crooked officer away for good.

Finally, we get an epilogue of sorts with Clark Kent and Deadman. It seems that Deadman is unhappy that he was not able to convince Clark on the benefits of the afterlife. He's still got some convincing to do however, as Clark blows him off. Deadman finally gives up, and leaves "Action" to Superman. Wink, wink!


For some reason, I've always kind of associated Green Lantern and Iron Man together. I'm not really sure why, but it could have something to do with this. Or maybe it was the fact that they both went bad about the same time.

So what does my analogy have to do with the issue we just reviewed?

It turns out that I have another reason to believe they were separated at birth...the always changing origin story. Every 5 or 10 years or so, we seem to get another updated Iron Man origin, taking him from Viet Nam to whatever military conflict that happened in the recent past.

With Green Lantern, it now seems that the how and why of Abin's death and Hal Jordan birth as Green Lantern seems to change almost as much. Different characters and motivations seem to be weaved through the story to suit whatever angle a particular writer wished to explore. Although with the depth of work that Geoff Johns has recently done on that part of the Green Lantern mythos, I'd be surprised if it changed again anytime soon.

With that being said, I can see what Maggin was trying to do here, but it never quite came together in one cohesive package. For one thing, it was just way too long. I was merciful and recapped about 20 pages of story in just a couple of lines. If you're a glutton for punishment, you can read the whole issue and get exposed to at least a couple of pages of each character that the ring chose as a successor both before and after they were brought to the salt flats. For everyone else, Superman and Deadman make the case for Green Lanterns crisis of conscience more succinctly and entertaining than seeing the same thing happen eight times in a row.

The different vignettes did allow for some interesting artistic style to interplay with each other, which ended up being the high point of this issue. My personal favorite being the Steve Ditko/Art Thibert pairing. I was also looking forward to the Carmine Infantino/Kevin Nowlan pairing, but it ended up being a combination that sounded better than it ended up looking.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics