Monday, December 28, 2009

Best Intentions Blogging

So it really was my intention to have a pretty steady stream of blogging done between the holidays. My job was kind enough to give me a week off with no pay, so what better way to waste the hours away than by rambling on the internet, eh?

Santa however, in his infinite wisdom, decided that I needed to do something more constructive with my time off, so he delivered about 4-6" of water into my basement. Needless to say, blogging about comic books has taken a backseat to bailing out the water.

As I type this, I'm about to pack up my office into a portable storage container so we can clean the basement from stem to stern. That means my computer access is going to be limited at best. I still hope to finish the Batman review by the New Year, so hope springs eternal.

It's not bad enough that I'm leaving you empty-handed this week, but so is Diamond Distribution with barely a new comic book to be found on Wednesday. That gives you the perfect opportunity to explore your own longboxes.

That's right, now you too can play the home game of Random Longbox. Visit the fine folks over at and use their handy-dandy widget to pick out a random book from your own collection. Read it, jot down a few notes about what you thought, and e-mail those to me at the address at the top of the page and I'll post some reader reviews to help fill the gap until I'm on dry land again.

So there you go, I've just given you a homework assignment over Christmas break. But when was the last time you got assigned to read a comic book for homework though, so that makes me the cool teacher, right?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nothing says Happy Holidays quite like a giant robot punching a monster in the face...and Batman too!

Well it's the last "official" comic book Wednesday of 2009, so let's not waste any time and get right into Comic Book Days of Wednesdays Past!

The first random year up to take a look at is 1988! Let's find out what the kids were reading back then, while they waited in anticipation for what Santa would bring them.

Why it was Alpha Flight #55!

Since all the other bloggers are doing it, I tried to find a Christmas cover for the books released this month, but came up empty. But hey, this one's got snow on it so I'll count that as a win!

And with the big armored guy's color scheme, if you squint your eyes hard enough you can almost pretend that it's Santa in his Santa Armor variant costume battling the dreaded Lump-o-coal-a-saurus.

My apologies if I offended any Alpha Flight fans for not knowing who the big robot is, but at least I didn't just assume it was Iron Man, eh? Even consulting wasn't much help, but I did notice that Jim Lee did the pencils on this issue, with inks by Tony DeZuniga. That's a combination I wouldn't mind seeing, so perhaps a special trip to the LCS is in order.

So that was 22 years ago, what about 39 years ago? A quick trip to 1971 and once again, there was nary a holiday cover to be found. This Christmas theme blogging is hard, so it looks like I'll have to cheat again.

Don't look too closely, but I'm pretty sure that's the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future on the cover of The Avengers #85, celebrating the birth of baby Jesus under the glistening Star of Bethlehem!

Enough with the holiday shenanigans, let's get to picking the next random book to review. Take it away, Randomizer...

...and that book is Batman #603 from July 2002, published by DC Comics!

Check out the pedigree of the creators on the cover. That's Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips!

The very same Brubaker and Phillips of Criminal and Incognito fame. I knew that they had worked together previously on the two Sleeper series, but this issue predates even those. Little did we know at the time that we were witnessing the birth of a classic creative team.

It should be interesting to see their take on the Batman, especially after the body of work that they have accrued in the meantime. It almost makes up for the fact that we have to review part eleven of an eighteen part storyline!

See you in a day or two for the review.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

475# scimoC noitcA

It's time for another episode of "Confessions of a Superman Fan".

Today's topic? Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Today's confession? I've never been that big of a fan of the imp from the 5th dimension.

I don't mind reading his stories, but if he decided to stay in the 5th dimension permanently, that would suit me just fine. I'm not against having fun with Supes either, as some of my favorite Superman stories feature Bizarro. I guess I just prefer the meanings of my words reversed, as opposed to the spelling of my words.

Not to get too far off on a tangent here, but I think Greg Rucka and Matthew Clark did right by the character on their not so distant run in Adventures of Superman, specifically with issue #638. It's ironic that two creators who I don't normally associate with "funny" ended up with a memorable take on the character.

So now we get to finish off the review of Action Comics #574 that we started yesterday, as we read the second story which guessed it, Mr. Mxyzptlk!

Tomorrow Is Cancelled!
  • Plot: Bob Greenberger, Barbara Randall
  • Dialogue: Barbara Randall
  • Penciller: Howard Bender
  • Inker: Dave Hunt
  • Letterer: Duncan Andrews
  • Colorist: Gene D'Angelo
  • Editor: Julius Schwartz
It's an average day for Superman, as he spends his time helping those less fortunate. This time around, he's planting crops in the drought stricken midwest, and then seeding the clouds to make it rain.

Mr. Mxyzptlk is watching from the 5th dimension, originally confused by what Superman is doing, before concluding that Superman must be pulling a prank on the people of Earth.

Delighted by Superman's new turn toward mischief, Mxy comes to our dimension to share some of his own good news with Superman. To make his announcement, he hijacks the front page of the next edition of the Daily Planet with the picture of his newborn baby son!

That's right, Mr. Mxyzptlk is a proud father and not only does he want the whole world to know, he wants this day to last forever. So he has put the future on hold and co-opts the Daily Planet offices to have a baby shower for little Kytszbtn.

I'm pretty sure this is a fetish for somebody and I'm guessing Jimmy might be one of 'em, what with the wide-eyed expression and jazz hands.

Jimmy tries the old "get him to read his name spelled backwards" routine by giving Mxy a homemade greeting card, but he will not be fooled that easily today.

See, even Clark has his suspicions about Jimmy!

Clark and Lana show up, and are soon given the same party favors as everyone else. But Clark's not your average Joe, and he soon has a plan hatched for how to get rid of Mxyzptlk.

Seeing as how Mxy is a new father, Clark appeals to his paternal instinct. By freezing time, he'll never be able to see his son grow up and experience more joys of fatherhood.

Mxyzptlk decides to unfreeze time and head back home to the 5th dimension, but first he must say his name backwards. Not used to willingly saying his own name in reverse, he stumbles and can't quite get it right.

Leave it to Clark to think of everything, however, as he gives Mxy a congratulatory cigar and tells him to read the label on it. The label, of course, has Mxy's name spelled out backwards, and in no time at all he is gone in a puff of smoke.

Finally, we get a nice Groucho Marx joke that would've been topical about 25 years earlier. But if we've learned nothing from this issue, it's that DC thought it was still 1965.


I think the only thing I really learned from this story is the answer to another trivia question for the next time I play Kryptonian Trivial Pursuit. Mr. Mxyzptlk's pre-crisis son is named Kytszbtn!

Although I only recently have committed the correct spelling of Mxy's name to memory, so I'd probably not remember anyway. Of course, I could just cough and grunt my way through an answer and probably come pretty close.

So that brings a close to one of Mr. Mxyzptlk's last pre-crisis appearances. I can't say as it changed my opinion of him any, but it didn't do him any harm either.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Action Comics #574

TITLE: Action Comics #574


COVER DATE: December 1985


24 pages


I've already written before about how this era of Superman books is one of the few that I've not really cracked into with any sort of consistency. Nothing has changed in the last couple of months, so there's not a whole lot to say before we start reading.

One of the things I am looking forward to, is reading a Superman book that came out in the last year before the John Byrne relaunch. It always strikes me as odd that the Superman books from the early 80's still read like they were straight out of the silver age. The Superman titles by and large were missing the more mature themes that popped up in the bronze age, and for whatever reason just plowed on through like nothing much had changed.

Eventually, the editors realized that something needed to be done and John Byrne was brought in to relaunch the franchise. It was definitely one of the wiser decisions that has been made to the Superman lines over the years, and the books are better off for it twentysome years later.

So when this issue came out, Crisis On Infinite Earths was two-thirds of the way through and was laying the groundwork for the new status quo. I'm curious to see if this issue still clings to the silver age style, or if it saw the writing on the wall and tried to get with the times. Let's find out.

May The Best World Win!
  • Writer: Craig Boldman
  • Penciller: Kurt Schaffenberger
  • Inker: Dave Hunt
  • Letterer: Milt Snapinn
  • Colorist: Gene D'Angelo
  • Editor: Julius Schwartz
The issue opens up on an average day for Clark Kent, working on a story in his office at the Daily Planet, as he's soon distracted by a noise outside his window. Seeing as how he's high up on a skyscraper, this is obviously a job for Superman and not Clark Kent.

Silver Age Alert!

State of the art technology still using the old shoebox design

The noise came from a roving camera/transmitter from the Planet Ostok, which has come to Earth with an offer for Superman to partake in an athletic competition. Decades ago, the natives of Ostok used to hold athletic competitions that spanned the galaxies. The only planet that they couldn't beat was Krypton, with all of their battles ending in a tie before Krypton was eventually destroyed leaving the contest forever stalemated. With the realization that there is still a Kryptonian alive on Earth, they are looking for one last chance to claim victory.

Not wanting to shirk his responsibilities to the people of Earth, Superman demurs. Jimmy Olsen, who has been eavesdropping on the converstation the whole time, writes about it in the Daily Planet. Fan mail soon starts pouring into the newsroom, urging Superman to accept the challenge and compete for both Krypton and Earth's honor. Not one to disappoint his fans, Superman accepts.

Silver Age Alert!

The U.N. has nothing better to do than to get involved with a super race

A series of events are soon scheduled to take place on Earth and Superman meets the Ostokian champion with which he will do battle, Rad Zonon.

Silver Age Alert!

Friendly alien races with alien handshakes

The meeting is soon cut short however, as something shiny catches Superman's attention.

Silver Age Alert!

Superman "subtly" lets us know that he's already solved the mystery/twist/misunderstanding that'll wrap everything up on the last page

Over the next seven pages, the two athletes compete against each other with neither one gaining the upper hand for very long. During the weeklong contest period, Jimmy Olsen tries to get to the bottom of what had distracted Superman earlier in the story. Working together with S.T.A.R. Labs, they have discovered that Zonon's body is emitting a strange radiation that nonetheless, doesn't seem to be affecting Superman.

It's all down to the final contest, which has Superman and Zonon engaged in a super-strong arm wrestling competition. The supercomputer, which has been used to keep score during the contest, buzzes as it's ready to declare a winner.

Jimmy Olsen and the scientists at S.T.A.R. Labs decide to bring the information they've discovered to Superman's attention, as they feel that the strange readings they found may have affected the super-computer's results.

Superman's non-plussed of course, as he lets us in on exactly what has been really going on. With no clues that were ever seeded in the story for the reader, Superman demonstrates the deductive abilities of his super-brain and fills us in.

When he left abruptly earlier, he went to the fortress and used some specialized equipment to "tune in" on the Planet Ostok. He soon found out that Zonon's planet was also affected by Krypton exploding, which caused the planet to become bathed in a series of radioactive solar eruptions.

Silver Age Alert!

All spaceships shall be of the Flash Gordon design school

Zonon was the only one of his planet to escape it's fate, as he was travelling back from an athletic competition at the time. Distraught and alone on his devastated planet, he spent next couple of decades tinkering with technology that allowed him to discover that a lone Kryptonian was still alive. Using his machines to de-age himself, he travels to Earth to finish that final athletic competition.

It was the effects of the de-aging technology that S.T.A.R. Labs had detected earlier, but Sueperman was aware of it the whole time. He decided it was best to give this last athlete of a devastated world his final victory, so that he may return to his world and die at peace.


There's no mistaking it, this story reads like it could have been straight out of an 80-Page Giant from back in the day. I was actually surprised at just how Silver Agey this story actually felt.

It's no wonder that Superman was in for a major overhaul if this was the status quo going into 1986.

That's not to say that I don't enjoy the old stories, I'm just amazed that they were still telling them this far into the 80's.

There's still one more story in this issue, and it's a Mr. Mxyzptlk romp that we'll finish up tomorrow.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Up next...Action Comics!

I was finally able to squeeze in some reading time in between getting the Christmas shopping done, so let's do some one sentence reviews of this weeks new releases before we get to picking the next random book.

  • Captain America Reborn #5 I just wish this was Captain America #606, rather than Reborn #5.

  • Green Lantern Corps #43 Best use of a non-green ring on a Green Lantern yet!

  • Justice League of America #40 Dark horse contender for best Blackest Night tie-in, although I appear to be the only one on the internet who thinks so.

  • Supergirl #48 Come back, Jamal...come back!

  • Superman/Batman #67 Any book with DC's Frankenstein in it is all right by me.

  • Batman: Streets of Gotham #7 I could stare at Dustin Nguyen's pencils all day long.

  • Power Girl #7 Best use of an homage cover in I can't remember how long.
In fact, that Power Girl cover is so good, let's take a closer look at it side by side with the original.

It takes some serious balls to pull off a costume like the one Vartox is sporting, and from this vantage point I'm not quite sure that he has the necessary requirements. He is an alien however, so I'm sure they're just located somewhere else.

I think we better get to picking the next random book to review, before I have to start having some uncomfortable conversations with myself.

Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Action Comics #574 from December 1985, published by DC Comics!

Speaking of nifty covers, there's a nice dramatic one from Eduardo Barreto. He's definitely one of my favorite cover artists from this period of Superman stories.

Here's another one that I always liked that has a similar composition.

It's a shame he never did more interior work for these titles, as he draws a nice looking Superman.

Come back in a day or two for the review to see if the insides live up to the dramatic cover. It's pre-crisis Superman, so I'm just guessing here, but it's probably going to be somewhat more brightly colored and optimistic.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Deathmate Red...Part Deux!

So I think I'm thoroughly rested and recharged, and ready to take on the second half of Deathmate Red, where the lunatics of Extreme Studios run rampant across not just one, but two comic book universes!

If you missed the first part, check over here.

When last we left our heroes, they had just defeated the world's most pacifist terrorist organization with extreme prejudice. Let see what happens next...

Prophet stands on a hill, doing his best impersonation of the Watcher, as he...wait for it...wait for!

Although we should probably call him the Thinker instead, as he doesn't do a good job of actually watching as he misses the guy sneaking up behind him with a huge gun. So while his watching skills left a little to be desired, his thinking actually clues us in to the fact that Prophet is one of the only characters that realizes that two universes are merged and things are not as they should be. I guess that explains why Shaft was so hardcore and ruthless just two pages ago.

After waking up from being knocked unconscious, Prophet finds himself a captive of Knightstrike! They are the rebel faction of heroes on this merged world that have sworn to take down the evil Harada Corporation once and for all. They are composed of Chapel and Al Simmons (two former Youngblood members), along with Kirby and the Eternal Warrior.

Knightstrike has assumed that Prophet is one of Harada's latest genetically enhanced superheroes. During their interrogation, we find out that the terrorists from the first half of the book were actually the good guys as Harada really is an evil corporation bent on world domination, with Youngblood as his personal enforcers!

Prophet explains that he can usually tell the future, but somethng is messing with his powers as things are clouded here. The Eternal Warrior backs up his suspicions with vague feelings of uneasiness of his own. Prophet decides the best thing to do is play along with Knighstrike until he can make contact with Youngblood. I guess he must've missed that part of the interrogation where we find out that Youngblood is evil.

It also turns out the Prophet's arrival in New Harada is perfect, as there is a huge military parade tomorrow and that is when Knightstrike is planning their coup to take him down once and for all.

Strike they do, and if I may say, in a rather violent and ruthless fashion that easily makes this one of the most entertaining parts of this book. I found myself chuckling just a little bit more with each fatality that got piled onto the bodycount.

The first one to boared the carnage train is Al Simmons, who gets his torso obliterated by Dutch. Let's also give some extra bonus points to Dutch, as he's the first one to realize that these guns that everyone carries actually do work if you pull the trigger.

Diehard gets blown up, along with Kirby when he detonates a bomb kamikaze style.

Seeing as how Dutch was on a roll, he puts a bullet through Chapel's brain just as he is about to take out Bloodshot. While we're in a generous mood, let's give some bonus points to Bloodshot too, as he actually gets to speak two whole sentences in this half of the book!

The Eternal Warrior takes Badrock out with one punch through his stone heart. That makes me realize that I have no idea what Eternal Warriors powers actually are. I didn't realize that he was that strong that he could punch through rock. Though he does have pointy spikes on his gauntlets, so maybe they're really sharp!

Dutch then goes for the hat trick by trying to take out the Eternal Warrior. Alas, his streak has ended as his neck is snapped by the Eternal Warrior.

So while all of that was going on, Shaft was left conveniently unopposed long enough so that Prophet could try to talk some sense into him and let him know that this is not how it's supposed to be.

Just as he's about to make him realize that something is wrong, Shaft loses control of the sky-bike they're riding on and crashes into the side of the building. Prophet manages to save himself just in time, only to land on the ground to bear witness to the slaughter at his feet.

Finding no survivors of the horrific battle, Prophet steels himself to the task that is left to him, and him alone. He must return the world to it's rightful state.


Somewhere in these 54 pages is the basis for an entertaining story. I caught glimpses of it here and there, and there were a couple of parts of this book that I really enjoyed. But it's kinda like having a Thanksgiving meal and only enjoying the corn. The turkey should be delicious, and it sure smells good, but in the end it was dry and tough.

And I shudder to think about the implications of what I'm about to say, but I think I may have enjoyed the Liefeld art in the first half. Hold off on the pitchforks for a second and let me explain myself. It was only after reading the second half of this book that I learned to appreciate the first half.

The art in the latter part of this book was just not all that good. First of all, with seven different pencillers it sort of made the story lurch along. Even considering the pencillers were all doing their best Liefeld style, the quality level was all over the place. Say what you will about Liefeld's art, but at the end of the day his work looked so much more polished than the other artists contributing to this issue. I can definitely see in hindsight, how he rose to the top of the artistic echalons at the time.

So there you have it...the nineties at it's worst (or best, or both...depending on how you look at it).

I survived reading Deathmate Red, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt blog post.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Image Comics, Voyager Communications, Rob Liefeld, or Todd McFarlane

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deathmate Red

TITLE: Deathmate Red

PUBLISHER: Image/Valiant

COVER DATE: November 1993


54 pages


I guess you could call this series a highwater mark for the excess enthusiasm of the 90's. Here you had two incredibly popular (and at this point successful) independent comic book companies taking on the big two in their own backyard, and winning.

I remember a period of time where any book put out that carried either a Valiant or an Image logo was like printing gold. Hell, you could make a book printed on actual feces, and as long as it had the Image "i" on the cover it would sell out in minutes. I can only imagine the frenzy if the feces had come from an actual Image founder!

Actually, that's as apt a metaphor as we're likely to find, as a lot of the 90's books were shit. It was by no means limited to Image books, as DC and Marvel had their share of turkeys as well. I'm not just being a hater either, as I still have a lot of these books in my collection to back it up. So any book that gets mocked and judged against the standards of today's books was one that I bought with my hard earned money. Hell, I probably bought multiple copies of a lot of these.

This is also one of the few chances that we're going to get to read a Valiant book on this blog. I was late to pick up on their titles, and when I did start collecting a few, it was only for a year or so before I lost interest. The bulk of my Valiant collection then got ebayed away as one big lot about two years ago, leaving only a few of the multiple copies that I had originally bought still sticking around. So if you're dying to find out how the first issues of Bloodshot or Turok hold up, stick around as we'll get 'em eventually.

  • Story: Rob Liefeld
  • Script: Rob Liefeld, Eric Stephenson
  • Pencils: Rob Liefeld, Marat Mychaels, Jeff Matsuda, Richard Horie, Dan Fraga, Cedric Nocon, Mark Pacella, Anthony Wynn
  • Inks: Jonathan Sibal, Marlo Alquiaz
  • Colors: Byron Talman
  • Color Seperations: Extreme Colors, Jason Irwin, Andre Khromov, Ron Rife, Donald Skinner, Dave Smith
  • Letters: Kurt Hathaway
  • Editor: Eric Stephenson
This issue is divided into two parts. The first one being a Rob Liefeld triple threat with him providing the story, script, and pencils. The second half is a Liefeld studios jam issue with seven different pencillers.

Here's the elevator review for the first twenty-three pages of this book. And just to make it more challenging, I shall use no more words than there are panels of artwork on these twenty-three pages. That's only sixty-four words to use, so let's give it a shot.

Youngblood infiltrates a sparsely illustrated nuclear facility that is held hostage by armored protester/terrorists. Being the highly trained terrorists that they are, they decide to defeat Youngblood by rushing headlong at them instead of firing a single shot from their massively oversized guns. Their leader, pontificating about the evils of corporations, gets three arrows in the back courtesy of Shaft. Everyone grimaces.

There, that wasn't so bad, was it? I even saved myself a word, which I'll use now..."yawn"

Rob Liefeld gets a lot of flak thrown at him and has, perhaps undeservedly, become somewhat of a punching bag in the comic book industry. How you square that with his highly devoted and motivated fanbase is the million dollar question. Love him or hate him, the man has carved himself quite a niche in the industry and you can't fault him for that.

What you can fault him for, however, is a pretty shoddy comic book. Of which category Deathmate Red falls decidedly into.

Let's delve deeper into my 63 word review to avoid doing just a drive-by snarking.

If I remember correctly, the basis of this crossover was that Void from WildC.A.T.S and Dr. Solar had an interstellar fling which somehow caused the universes to merge. In this particular book, Youngblood is a part of the Harada Corporation which was from the Valiant Universe. So naturally when the terrorists strike against Harada, they send in Youngblood to take them down.

As a bare-bones plot, that's not an altogether bad framework to hang a story on, but in this case that's pretty much all we have. I know I was half-joking earlier, but this is literally twentysome pages of Youngblood taking down the world's most inept terrorist fighters, who have struck Harada simply because they are an "evil" corporation.

At least the artwork compliments the plot, as it is almost just as vacant. Of the previously mentioned sixty-four panels, less than half of those had any background drawn in. I'm being generous here, as easily half of the backgrounds consist of nothing more than a few odd lines to signify a wall or a floor.

Aside from Youngblood, almost everyone else in this issue is encased in full body armor with a mirrored helmet that doesn't allow you to see their faces. Perhaps that's for the best however, as there are only two types of expressions allowed here...a frown or a grimace. There are literally only three panels were a character approaches anything resembling a smile. Maybe Diehard's really smiling under his mask, but I guess we'll never know.

The action's well drawn and definitely energetic, but the battle is decidedly one-sided. We all know that Liefeld likes to draw his guns, and he likes them massively out of proportion. What he forgets to do is ever draw in the ammunition clips!

Quick guys! Let's ditch these state-of-the-art blasters and take on the humongous guy made of rock with our bare hands!

I realize that Youngblood is supposed to be one of the best tactical superhero teams around, but the law of averages is going to say that at least one of the terrorists should manage to get off a shot. I'm surprised none of them tried to shoot themselves in the foot to get out of this book.

Finally, we get to the big showdown with the main terrorist, but it's not much of a showdown. The biggest threat he poses is that he holds a detonator in his hands that has everyone quaking in their big cuffed boots. Well, it did scare C-3PO back in the day.

Halfway through his big speech to list his demands, he's struck down with three arrows in the back. I realize that this version of Youngblood is supposed to be all hardcore and everything, but that just seems cold. It's not like he would've fired a gun or actually used his detonator. Sounds like overkill to me (not to be confused with Overtkill, which was a different corner of the Image universe altogether).

That brings the first half of this issue to a close, and it was a relatively quick read. The Valiant side of the crossover doesn't get much exposure, with only Bloodshot getting the token appearance as part of Youngblood. Even then, he only gets to say two words..."Oh, Shi--" And he isn't even allowed to enunciate them both!

Well that's about all of the Liefeld-verse that I can handle in one night, so we'll finish up the other half tomorrow. Thumbing through the pages, it looks like we get a little more plot this time around. At the very least, we're getting about 10 times as many words. Whether that's a good or bad thing, we'll just have to find out the hard way.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fun with statistics! Not so fun with Deathmate Red!

So last week I had a reader ask me some questions about the entirety of my collection. I had previously thought about doing a post that took a deeper look at what's in my collection, since it's essentially this blog's lifeblood, but I wasn't sure who would really care.

Apparently, at least one person would. So without further ado, let's dive into some number crunching. And never let it be said that I didn't try to please my audience, one reader at a time.

How does the collection break down by publisher?
  • Marvel: 39%

  • DC: 51%

  • Dark Horse: 3%

  • Image: 3%

  • Other: That leaves about 4% of the pie for everybody else, with their being 46 different publishers all total.
So how does that match up to what's been reviewed so far? Of the 45 books we've read, 51% have been Marvel and 38% have been DC. It looks like the Randomizer has a slight Marvel bias.

Nick's next question was how many issues do I have with my favorite character(s). As regular readers know, I'm a bit of a Superman and Avengers fan. I've also been known to dabble in the X-Universe from time to time as well. Let's take a look at how these three fare.

  • Superman: 1928 books featuring Superman in the title role. That works out to about 15% of my collection.

  • Avengers: 604 books (5%)

  • X-Titles: 1577 books (12%), from The Adventures of Cyclops & Pheonix to X-Universe.
I'm actually a little surprised that Superman was able to beat out the Marvel Mutants. I always figured that with the pure volume of titles out there, that the X-Men would've had more issue in my collection. But then I guess Superman hasn't exactly been a slouch in the amount of titles he's carried over the years either.

Now let's take a look to see how the collection breaks down over the decades.

  • 2000's: 38%

  • 1990's: 42%

  • 1980's: 15%

  • 1970's: 3.5%

  • 1960's: 1%

  • 1950's: 0.02%
So why couldn't I have started reading comics in the 60's, instead of the 90's? My son's college education would be so paid for, if that was the case. Although weren't we all supposed to be financing our kids' education with polybagged copies of Superman #75?

That takes care of Nick's questions. Thanks again to Thelonius Nick for the inspiration for this post.

Before we pick the next random book to review, there was one last statistic that I came across in looking over my database that I found interesting.

The creators name who popped up the most?

Curt Swan lead the pack with 447 books. That guy was a monster pencilling the exploits of Superman for three decades.

Geoff Johns came in second with 407, just beating out Chris Claremont at 402.

So there you have it. I hope I didn't bore everyone to tears with a somewhat indulgent post about my collection. Now, on to the business at hand to find out what the next random book to review is.

...and that book is Deathmate Red from November 1993, published by Image and Valiant Comics! Although with the quality level of my scanner and monitor it looks an awful lot like Deathmate Black, so hopefully I didn't make their already confusing numbering system for this mini-series even more confusing. Damn you 90's foil covers!

Or should I have cursed "foiled again by foil covers!"

My brain hurts too much from crunching numbers to have to think about reading and reviewing a 60 page book drawn and written by Rob Liefeld. I only have myself to blame however, as this book is from my collection.

I think I need to make sure I got lots of sleep tonight before I tackle this one, so we'll see you in a day or two for the review.

Until then, may all your legs be wrapped in little pouches and all of your expressions unnecessarily grimaced!

Friday, December 11, 2009

X-Factor #87

TITLE: X-Factor #87


COVER DATE: February 1993


23 pages


X-Factor has always held a special place in my collection. Set aside the fact that this title was the first major title launch that I remember buying off the shelf, or the fact that this was also the first speculation buying I remember partaking in, and there was still one thing that made this title something special.

Although now that I think about it, it was two things...Peter David and c-list characters.

Peter David was a writer that I had started reading on The Incredible Hulk the year before he started writing X-Factor. With his work on these two titles, he has earned a guaranteed first issue buy of anything new he starts. Peter David's writing pretty much introduced me to the concept of character. He took such care when advancing the story and made it much more than just moving the plot along at the expense of everything else. The characters in his stories interacted with the Marvel Universe as a whole, but always in a way that made you see something new or think about something differently.

Like I said in the previous post, he was a writer ahead of his time, and his stories still hold up to multiple rereads without missing a beat.

The second thing I liked about this title was the use of the c-list characters. And "c-list" is probably being overly generous in some cases. Strong Guy? Multiple Man? Really?

But it was with these second-stringers that you could let loose with some unorthodox stories, without upsetting the cash cow X-Men franchise that was the early 90's. One of the best of those stories was the issue we're reviewing today. So without any further hyperbolic ado, let's just get on with it.

  • Writer: Peter David
  • Penciler: Joe Quesada
  • Inker: Al Milgrom
  • Colorist: Marie Javins
  • Letterer: Richard Starkings & Steve Dutro
  • Assistant Editor: Kelly Corvese
  • Editor: Bob Harras
  • Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco
The story opens up with a peek inside of Rahne's dreams as she is cavorting around a cartoon world with Feral, drawn in the style of Ren & Stimpy. It turns out that she's been having a lot of these types of dreams, imagining herself in the place of whatever character is on the television when she falls asleep.

Is it just me, or did Joe Quesada model the cartoon version of Stimpy after himself?

Thanks to Guido cluing Rahne into how psychiatrists "really" work, she has her guard up when he starts asking her some questions. He answers her skepticism with a textbook diagnosis that hits her like a ton of bricks.

She has a combination of a lack of self-esteem and a need for approval from whatever authority figure is before her. Forced to confront her issues head-on, she admits that she's been carrying a small torch for Havok, as he is the team leader and local authority figure.

The doctor has one more insight that cuts to the core of her problem, and it all boils down to Reverend Craig, the man who raised her. All of her personality searching and need of approval boils down to the fact that she was denied love and respect from the reverend when she was growing up.

Angry at first, Rahne "wolfs" up. True to form, however, she realizes that the doctor (and local authority figure) is right.

Up next on the shrink's couch is Quicksilver. With Pietro being the somewhat arrogant and standoffish character that he is, he doesn't give the doctor much respect or time.

The doctor calls him on it, and Pietro goes on to explain that his mood and temperament is more a reaction of interacting with a world that moves at a snail's pace compared to him. Frustrating is the kindest way of putting it, so it should come as no surprise that Pietro has little patience for others.

True to form, Quicksilver has the last word, while finishing both the doctor's Rubik's Cube and jigsaw puzzle before he leaves.

After Quicksilver, you'd think the rest of X-Factor would be a pleasant experience, but Polaris is up next and she's not feeling very forthcoming today. After 10 minutes of silence, the doctor manages to get a rise out of her by complimenting her. She instantly gets defensive and assumes he only brought up her high I.Q. in order to make her shortcomings more pronounced. While never having mentioned her looks, she wrongly assumes that's what he is talking about.

With all of the recent issues she has had with being controlled, she's disappointed in herself that she has let the doctor get inside her head, so to speak. Realizing that he now has her attention, he lays it all out for her...she has body image issues and she tends to push against others instinctively. Kind of ironic for someone who controls the very powers of magnetism and can both attract and repel whatever she chooses.

Not ready to confront the truth, she chooses to rebuff the doctor's offer of kindness and leaves his office.

Strong Guy has the next appointment, and he has no problem spilling his guts to the doctor. Like he told Rahne, he knows how psychiatrists do what they do from experience. The doctor asks him about his previous experience and it turns out the Guido saw a lot of guidance counselors when he was a kid.

He then goes on to explain the secret origin story of Strong Guy. Back when he was a kid, he was really smart. He used jokes and wise-cracks to divert people from his nerdiness, but it only worked a little. Eventually he was caught between a bully and the girl he adored, and he ended up getting beat upon by him and his friends.

That's when his mutant power emerged, with his body enlarging to the disproportionate size that it holds to this day. It turns out the change has left Guido in constant pain, but not wanting to be pitied he covers up his pain with jokes and wisecracks.

So Guido did have a lot of experience in a psychiatrist's office, as he came prepared with his own self-diagnosis. The doctor plays the role of the reader here as well, when he says that he had "no idea" about any of his origin. I'm not sure if that was ever explained in any of his other appearances, but it was definitely the first time I remember hearing about it.

That session was an easy one, let's see if the Multiple Man keeps the streak going. It's a quick session with Jaime, as a little word association game soon brings to the surface Jaime's one fear...being alone.

That's one of the reasons that Jaime plays the role of practical joker, so that he can get a reaction out of people. The attention he gets, either good or bad, makes him feel less alone. Another ironic diagnosis, considering the basis of his mutant power.

Havok's the last team member to sit down with the doctor, but he has a hard time actually sitting and relaxing. The doctor calls him out on it, and we find out that Alex is overcompensating as team leader, trying to live up to the legend that is his brother, Cyclops. He's so busy trying to stay two steps ahead of everything else, that he doesn't even know if his team respects him or his abilities.

Once again, the doctor cuts to the core and wonders why he just doesn't ask them himself. Still not confident in his place as team leader, he's afraid of what they would tell him if he asked.

As the doctor wraps up his long day, looking over his notes, he is surprised by the reappearance of Polaris. She has come to tell him that she is neither repressed nor overly repulsive towards other people.

To prove her point, she debuts her daringly sexy new costume. Not something that someone repressed would do, right doc?

Realizing that she has completely missed the point of their previous talk, he gives her what she wants to hear with a compliment to her looks. Satisfied, she leaves his office feeling triumphant.

Finally it's time for the doctor to report to Valerie Cooper, who is the team's government liaison. She's eager to find out just what it is that is keeping X-Factor from acting like a true team.

In a bit of reverse psychology, he asks her to give her impression of each team member. She goes on to misread every team member at the most basic level. I think we now see who is the problem that is keeping the team from becoming a cohesive fighting unit.

She storms out of his office, muttering under her breath about his request that she take "awareness training". So distracted by what he has told her, she doesn't seem to notice the many tentacled creature sneaking up behind her. She's gone in the blink of an eye, as the doctor emerges from his office and we finally get to see who he was...Doc Samson.


This issue is still just as entertaining now, as it was back when it was first released. In fact, do yourself a favor and don't read my review. Go out and read the issue instead. It's such a cleverly and well crafted character study, that my review just doesn't do it justice.

The issue has a great sense of humor to it, finely balancing the heavier moments that occur with some of the more emotionally revealing sessions. This story was a great primer to bring everyone up to speed who was sticking around after The Extinction Agenda crossover concluded. It was a shame then, that Peter David would be gone from the title a few months later.

Joe Quesada's pencils are relatively strong here, having to pull double duty to keep the reader's eye entertained with little to no action. Some of his characters look a little stiff, but you can definitely tell that he was an up-and-coming star who would be a major impact in the coming years.

I still think he draws one of the best looking Quicksilvers that I can remember. Not that drawing the definitive Quicksilver is one's ticket to the big time, but that says something when you can make him look cool.

I'm glad that Peter David was able to come back to this title and these characters recently, as he was able to bring something new to the premise while still retaining the old feel. He really made me care for Multiple Man as a character in his initial run, so it was cool to see that he was really able to make him the center piece years later.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...
  • Peter David's official website
  • Not Blog X took a look at this issue too
  • The last time Random Longbox looked at X-Factor...kinda