Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marvel Premiere #27

TITLE: Marvel Premiere #27

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER DATE: December 1975


19 pages


Not much has changed since the Randomizer picked this book from among the random collection of forty books that I picked up during my LCS' Christmas Extravaganza. I still have never read a Satana book, nor do I have a clue who "The Tribe" is that is credited with the art on this book.

I could tell you that Satana is the brother of Daimon Hellstrom, and that this is her first appearance in FULL color, but anyone with google and five minutes of free time could tell you that. Let's just jump right in, ignorant feet first and see what we have in store for us.

  • Author: Chris Claremont
  • Artist: The Tribe
  • Letterer: Marcos Pelayo
  • Colorist: Janice Cohen
  • Editor: Marv Wolfman
The tale begins at the ending, as Satana stands at the scene of a horrific car crash, with a smoldering body lying nearby.

I'm assuming we'll get some explanations on how we got here and what it means, and it would also be nice if we got some answers about just who Satana is at the same time. Although, when the narrator has just as many questions as you, that's never a good sign.

With all of these questions, it's best to go back the beginning, as we catch up with the owner of the smouldering corpse, Deborah Hirsch, as she is on the run from an angry mob. Trying to lose them through the alleyways, she quite literally bumps into Satana, who has been drawn to this town by an occult sixth sense.

And really, when you bump into a total stranger through your own negligence, what better way to say "excuse me" than with a roundhouse kick to the head!

Unfortunately, her odd sense of decorum does her no good as Satana delays her just long enough for the mob to catch up to her and bind her in chains. Why chains? Because they claim she's a witch, and they intend to burn her at the stake.

You'd think the devil's daughter would be all for a good witch burning, but not this time. It's time to teach these townspeople some manners, so she makes him grovel like a pig at her feet.

Is "NURF" really the official sound effect for groveling?

As it turns out, she probably should have let them light the blaze as Deborah actually was possessed by the demon Dansker!

And who is Dankser?

He was also Satana's tutor in the ways of all things demony. Dansker used to rule the Netherlands until Lucifer usurped his command and bound him to his service. One of his chores was to "teach" Satana. The last time they talked was on her graduation day, where she attempted to best him in battle. Unsuccessful, her teacher left her beaten and humbled, vowing that he would always be her better.

Now that the Dansker is free in the mortal world, Satana decides it's time to settle some old scores. First, she needs to find where he has run to after he broke free. One stolen soul later from the last surviving townsperson, and she has her answer.

Here's where the story takes a turn into the-- surreal? Comical? Bizarre?

I can't decide, so what do you think?

That, in all of his bearded and bikini'd glory is Dansker. I know this was the seventies and all, and fashion took a certain liberty with common sense, but that's just weird.

You would think that if you have the power to put your head on a body, you could also spare some magical mojo for some more appropriate attire.

You also would've thought that Moondragon would not have taken kindly to someone copping her look. Granted, there's more hair, but tell me Moondragon hasn't wore that same one-piece.

This time, however, Satana is more than able to match Dansker's power. One well placed "SSZZZAA-KOW" later, and Dankser is brought to his knees.

Leaving him humbled and beaten this time, Satana turns his back on him and walks away. Dansker still has a little fight left in him, as he jumps into Deborah's car and tries to run Satana down, which proves the age old adage...if you can't beat 'em with magic, run 'em over with a car!

Summoning from the power of the basilisk that lies deep within Satana's soul, she lashes out and incinerates Dansker alive, host body and all. In the end, Deborah Hirsch's death was avenged by Satana. Yeah, she technically burned her body to ashes, but her soul was already damned by Dansker at that time. Someday her final battle with Dansker will come, and she will be able to take a true reckoning...someday...


For all intents and purposes, this is your standard "demon exiled from Hell, trying to find their way in the mortal world" type of story. This particular time around, the demon is the daughter of Lucifer himself. I wouldn't necessarily say she's guided by a sense of justice, but she does appear to have her own roughly admirable moral code to guide her.

Yeah, she avenged an innocent women's death and saved the life of a young boy in the process, but she did it by stealing another man's soul and condemning him to death. And while he wasn't free of guilt himself, he was actually trying to prevent his town from being taken over by demons. Granted, he was using methods straight out of the Salem Witchhunts, but is that a good enough reason to suck his immortal soul dry?

I suppose we'll leave that question to the philosophers and historians to decide.

Apart from the rather silly villain costume, this was a pretty decent issue. Chris Claremont is not a writer I normally associate with done-in-ones, but this one is not bad. There was only one spot where I rolled my eyes at the excessively dramatic narration.
Evil, a living testament to the darkness in men's souls...
Tell me that that description was never used for Apocalypse, or Mr. Sinister, or Magneto.

The art I rather liked as well, as it was very reminiscent of Marvel's house-style for their seventies horror books. It looks like at least two different artists handled this issue, but the transitions are well done and smooth.

As this story draws to a close, I can't say that I'm storming the halls of Marvel demanding she get her own series, but as a random issue read some thirty plus years after it was released, it was entertaining enough.

If you just can't get enough Satana, however, Marvel did us a favor with this issue and reprinted her first appearance from Vampire Tales #2. It's only four pages long, but it's by Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr., so it's worth taking a look at. Check the links out at the bottom of this post, as Pete from The Bronze Age of Blogs has a post that has some nice large scans of all four pages.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas catch-up

I hope everyone out there in internetland had a great "whatever you choose to celebrate" day! Things in the Random Longbox household were as close to perfect as you can get. Basically, any Christmas day from here on out where my basement doesn't flood is going to be a perfect Christmas. Not even getting one of these could put a damper on the holidays...

Here's a free holiday tip. Never take the initiative and point out something that people shouldn't get you for Christmas as, more often than not, it'll end up under your tree. And no, that isn't me in the pic. I'll still use it, don't get me wrong, I'm just not going to post any pics about it (at least not without a few more spiked egg-nogs).

Something that was similar to last year was that my local comic book shop was again having their Christmas Party Extravaganza. For ten bucks, you could buy a mystery box of twenty comic books. Randomly interspersed within the hundred or so boxes was a nice selection of key books including Amazing Spider-Man #300 and a bunch of first appearances from the Bronze Age including Moon Knight, Spider-Woman, and Morbius.

Like last year, I bought two boxes; but unlike last year, I didn't get lucky this time. No key books, but included among the 90's overstock were half a dozen fun bronze age books featuring Captain Marvel, Liberty Legion, and a few others that look like they'll be fun to read.

Since it's also time to pick another random book to review, we'll do the same thing we did last year and pick it from within the forty books that I got in my two mystery boxes. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Marvel Premiere #27 from December 1975, published by Marvel Comics! This particular issue contains a story featuring Satana, The Devil's Daughter!

As far as I know, I've never read a story featuring Satana and I know next to nothing about her (other than she's apparently the daughter of the devil). Another thing I know nothing about? The art credit on this book is given to "The Tribe". I've never come across them/it before. Is this a studio job? Or some sort of Alan Smithee situation? Maybe some kind reader will shed some light on the situation while I work on the review. See you in a day or two.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Resurrection Man #25

TITLE: Resurrection Man #25


COVER DATE: June 1999


22 pages


So I basically went through the concept of what this series was about with the previous post, but here's the Reader's Digest version of the Reader's Digest version that i gave you prior, if you're just tuning in.

Hero dies and is resurrected with a new superpower...and then dies and is resurrected with a new superpower...and then dies and is resurrected with a new superpower...etc...

Of course, this was the 90's so the hero was an amnesiac who spent the first part of his series figuring out who, and what, he was.

In theory, it sounds like a one-note series, but in reality it worked pretty well. Credit for that can be given to the solid creative team who, save for a fill in or two on the art, told the whole thing from beginning to end for the entire twenty-eight issues of the run.

As for what I remember about this issue...I have a vague recollection that at the close of this series, there was a bit of a mystery about whether or not the Resurrection Man was in fact the Immortal Man. I know, I know...The Immortal Man! From the Forgotten Heroes! It's hard to believe.

Who is the Immortal Man? I had no idea either when I first read this, so a little of the suspense was lost on me back then. Luckily, twenty years later I'm now the proud owner of the DC Comics Encyclopedia and know that he is one of Vandal Savage's antagonists and that he gained his powers from the very same meteorite that gave Savage his.

I actually recently reread the two-part story by Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane from Action Comics #552-553 that introduced the Forgotten Heroes back in 1983. True to their name, aside from another two-parter the next year in DC Comics Presents, they lay forgotten until this current storyline in Resurrection Man.

So is Mitchell Shelley in fact both the Resurrection Man and the Immortal Man?

Let's find out...

Millennium Then
  • Story: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
  • Art: Jackson Guice and Paul Ryan
  • Letters: Ken Lopez
  • Colors: Carla Feeny
  • Editor: Frank Berrios
To bring everyone up to speed, here's the Forgotten Heroes in all of their glory (in case you have, ya know...forgotten).

For those of you keeping score at home, that's from left to right: Dolphin, Rick Flag, Animal Man, Cave Carson, Dane Dorrence, Congorilla, the Immortal Man, and Rip Hunter.

They've actually come a long way since their debut as a team back in 1983, with more than half of these guys getting a regular gig on an ongoing outside of this team. I guess no character is ever truly forgotten.

Anyways, as the issue begins, we're smack dab in the middle of a flashback as Cave Carson relates how they were on a mission in the past in the Pliocene Era to collect more fragments of the meteor that gave Vandal Savage his powers. And here's the main reason why I find Savage a less than compelling villain. It seems every time he pops up, the story has to revolve around that damn meteor. You think they would have found it all by now, but that's the story that we have, so let's just roll with it.

This particular piece is being guarded by the Forgotten Villains, so while the battle for the fragment is begun in earnest...

...the Immortal Man tries to outflank them and snatch the fragment during their fight. Unfortunately, he fell right into Savage's master plans, as the fragment was being guarded by a sabretooth tiger.

I had no idea that Savage was so scared of tigers, but he lets Immortal Man do the dirty work and then he takes the fragment for himself and escapes back into the present.

And it's in the present, where we catch up with Cave Carson who has just finished describing the flashback to Resurrection Man. He barely has time to process what's been happening over the last couple of issues when their base comes under attack by some cybernetic robots, courtesy of Vandal Savage.

The Resurrection Man uses his current super-power of steel skin to provide cover while the current members of the Forgotten Heroes make a hasty retreat as their base crumbles around them.

Boring through the earth in one of Cave Carson's diggers, the Forgotten Heroes have a moment of calm to discuss their next move against Vandal Savage. It would seem that there's another meteor similar to one that granted him his powers heading towards our planet again, and the Forgotten Heroes aim to get to it before Savage does.

Yea, another meteor in a Vandal Savage story! I'll let it slide, as at least they play to one of my weaknesses as this particular meteor is not travelling through space as before, but time! That right there, is why the Forgotten Heroes have tracked down the Resurrection Man. If he is, in fact, their old team-mate resurrected, then he should be able to sense the meteors presence like the Immortal Man used to. That should give them the edge they need to beat Vandal Savage at his own game.

Savage is no idiot, however, and he knows the Forgotten Heroes escaped his previous assault and are undoubtedly on their way here as well.

And just like clockwork, they arrive at the makeshift base that Vandal has created to await the meteor's arrival.

And just like clockwork, the meteor shows up shortly thereafter.


Unfortunately, we never did learn definitively whether or not the Resurrection Man was in fact, the Immortal Man resurrected. Even so, that sentence was fun to type out so I'll call that a win. I want to say that I don't think he ended up being one and the same, but I'm not 100% sure. At least there was only three more issues after this one, so if you're desperate for an answer it should only cost you a couple of bucks in the dollar bins.

That's actually a bit of a shame, as this series was pretty good and deserves a little bit more to its legacy than that. But alas, it never did quite catch on and the Resurrection Man has been more or less forgotten until very recently, appearing in a grand total of four issues over the last decade. One of those was not too long ago in the pages of Brightest Day #13, so if Geoff Johns has his eye on 'em maybe a comeback is right around the corner. Or his comeback mojo seems squarely fixated on Aquaman at the moment (and speaking of Aquaman, stay tuned over the next two weeks or so for some bonus Aquaman content!!).

Overall, this was a fairly solid, if unremarkable issue. I would have preferred it if the Randomizer would have picked an issue with a little more meat on the bones, but it was fun nonetheless. It's been over a year since we've had a Butch Guice issue to page through and I always enjoy his work. Although I fear that nothing will be able to compare with the work he did on Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme in the late eighties

Abnett and Lanning are at their best when they are left to their own devices, not having to worry about tying into the flavor of the month crossover event, and that's what this series was about. Yeah, it had a brief detour into the 853rd century as a part of DC One Million, but it never hurt the overall storyline that they set out to tell. At its heart, it was a story about a man learning to become a hero.

And so now we say goodbye to the Resurrection Man once again, for what I'm sure will be another decade or two, but I wouldn't complain if he started popping up every so often once again.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Friday, December 17, 2010

Of rested and resurrected men

As of about six hours ago, I did something I've never done before. My day job went through a few twists and turns this past year, which kept me on my toes more often than not. As a downside, I never got around to being able to take many vacation days. On the upside, I have more vacation days banked that I have to use than I have days left in the year to use them.

So today was my last "official" work day of 2010. I used the air quotes, for when you work in sales you never know when an opportunity is going to hit that you need to act on. I don't think I've ever taken more than a week off at any one time, so this is uncharted territory I'm heading into.

I'm also curious to see how this affects the blog. Will the life of leisure allow me to post everyday, or will I be too busy sleeping in to bother? We'll find out soon, I suppose.

We also have the holidays to deal with, and my annual Magic The Gathering four-way tournament next week. Back in the late 90's, I had a twice weekly Magic habit. Nowadays, it's once a year if I'm lucky.

Enough speculation about the future, let's talk about the hear and now and get with picking the next random book to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Resurrection Man #25 from June 1999, published by DC Comics!

It looks like its time for another well-remembered series from the 90's that I haven't re-read since its original release. I've blogged about my admiration for Jackson "Butch" Guice in the past, and he was the main reason that I collected this title originally.

It's a bit of a novelty title, with the Resurrection Man gaining new powers every time he dies and is resurrected. It's essentially a one-trick pony series, with a serious deus ex machina potential, but I do remember enjoying it more often than not.

The other thing it had going for it, was that it was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. These two just polished off their cosmic magnum opus over at Marvel, and are now staking their claim to back alleys of New York City with Heroes For Hire.

Resurrection Man is decidedly closer to a street level title than a cosmic one, so it should be interesting to read some of their work from ten tears ago. See you in a day or two for the review.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Avengers #150

TITLE: The Avengers #150

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER DATE: August 1976


18 pages


As I mentioned on the last post, I just recently reread this issue so the events are pretty fresh in my mind. It doesn't help, that this issue serves as a vehicle for reprinting bits and pieces of stories that any Avengers or Marvel fan should know by heart. And honestly, if you don't know what happened in Avengers #4, you should probably just hang it up.

I'll cut the non-Avenger reader some slack if they're unfamiliar with Wonder Man's introduction in #9, and I might even be lenient about ignorance with the first big wholesale line-up change in issue #16 if you catch me on a good day.

And you know what? Today is a good day, because this issue reprints those exact issues. So while we don't get a new Avengers line-up until the next issue, we are treated to some highlights of the first year and half of Avengers history, courtesy of Messrs. Lee and Kirby. If that wasn't enough, we also get a framing sequence by Steve Englehart and George Perez.

Let's get right to it, and in the interest of still having something to say when and if the Randomizer picks issue #9 or 16, I'm going to forgo the full on review and just geek out for the remainder of this issue and soak up all that Lee, Kirby and Perez have to offer.

Since this was the anniversary of 150 issues of The Avengers, let's see if I can find 150 things to geek out about in these eighteen pages. Everybody synchronize your watches, and we're off...

  1. Awesome cover by Ron Wilson and Frank Giacoia! That right there is just about the perfect Avengers line-up. Swap out Hawkeye for Hellcat, and I could read about these guys all day long.

  2. It only cost two bits!

  3. Great issue title. Avengers Assemble! It's also a great catch-phrase, but why does it work as well as it does? It's not like assemble is the most action-packed verb around, and it definitely doesn't translate to other super-hero teams nearly as well. Champions Congregate! Fantastic Four Forgather! Metal Men Muster! It's a true mystery for the ages.

  4. Stan Lee

  5. Jack Kirby

  6. George Perez

  7. I'm probably cheating by listing the creative team separately, but I gotta get to 150 somehow. Besides, those guys are legends and deserve the honor. And while I've acknowledged that I'm playing fast and loose with the rules, these guys ain't nothing to sneeze at either...

  8. Steve Englehart

  9. John Tartag

  10. Duffy Vohland

  11. Dick Ayers

  12. Denise Wohl

  13. Artie Simek

  14. I love time travelling villains

  15. Irene Vartanoff

  16. Archie Goodwin

  17. Avengers Trope #41: The assembled mass of people and reporters outside of Avengers Mansion. I love this visual, as it really drives home the accessibility of these heroes. You couldn't do this with a moon base.

  18. Yellowjacket. You can keep your Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Wasp, Scientist Supreme, or Dr. Pym identities. To me, Hank Pym will always be Yellowjacket (although I do kinda like the sound of that Scientist Supreme one).

  19. Crazy wild coincidence! That just happens to be the 150th different costume that the Wasp has worn in her tenure with the Avengers so far.

  20. Another crazy wild coincidence! I think I may have just made that last fact up out of thin air.

  21. It's not named here, but one can only wonder if that is Korr that Yellowjacket is riding on.

  22. The Wasp's fiery streak! She's come a long way in the past 118 issues.

  23. A bonus shout out for referencing continuity from the previous year...and in a Marvel book, no less. Those were the days.

  24. Jarvis' striped pants and tails. There's a butler who dresses for success.

  25. Avengers Trope #81: Monogrammed chairs! Nothing says super-hero headquarters like monogrammed chairs.

  26. Although, for each of them supposedly having chairs "especially reserved for them", it would appear that the Beasts and Hellcats are pretty interchangeable. One can only assume that their decals are waiting if they make the cut into the new line-up.

  27. Appropriate that Iron Man's symbol is that of both iron and man.

  28. Avengers Trope #68: Overly dramatic resignations!

    But I guess when you're dealing with the god of thunder, you should expect a little bluster every now and again.

  29. Thor's abrupt announcement leads us to our first flashback to Avengers #1 and the formation of the team, helpfully recapped by the local newscaster reporting from outside. It was pretty awesome that the news station had Kirby on staff to provide some artist's renderings of the action.

  30. It turns out, it's actually George Perez that they had on staff. I just checked the panels that I assumed were reprinted from Avengers #1 with the actual issue, but they're not the same. So there you go, a little Perez after Kirby for you. Here's another...

  31. I like how Iron Man keeps his options open. You know, just in case this whole Avengers thing doesn't pan out.

  32. This was obviously the Hulk from his more verbose, catch-phrase spewing youth.

  33. Overly officious membership by-laws.

  34. Wait a minute...isn't everyone here? Couldn't you just do a show of hands and get the new chairman installed with an actual mandate behind him? We all know what happens when a leader gets appointed, rather than elected.

  35. Here's Perez' take on Kirby's classic scene of a frozen cap from Avengers #4.

  36. Followed shortly by a nice Perez ala Heck re-imagining.

  37. There's something right about George Perez drawing Wonder Man. He's one of the few that can make his myriad of questionable costumes seem not quite so questionable.

  38. With the flashbacks coming this quickly, it's only a matter of time until we're at the formation of the new Avengers in Avengers #16. And with it, our first glimpse of actual Kirby art.

    And not a moment too soon, as the old Avengers seem to be in a spot of trouble!

  39. Avengers Trope #92: Nothing says let me onto your team more than an "I just kicked your teams ass" introduction!

  40. Hawkeye!

  41. Flashbacks within flashbacks. Were there no editors back then. But it's Hawkeye, so we'll give him a pass.

  42. And what of old Jarvis tied up in the corner? No hard feelings I'm sure, but we'll see how quickly your tea and biscuits gets delivered the next time your feeling a bit peckish, eh Hawkeye?




  46. Three arrows loosed from the same bow at the same time, and only one of them sounds like an actual arrow. Although in all fairness, I think that last sound effect is actually coming from the snake that Hawkeye used to tie up Jarvis' legs with, so we're all good. It's probably a good thing he was around to get that snake before something drastic happened, eh?

  47. More by-laws! Good thing there's an employee manual to get the new members up to speed.

  48. Watch that wandering eye, Jan! You know your man is a bit of a loose cannon, right?

  49. One reformed villain joined up, so why not offer a spot to Namor, The Sub-Mariner?

  50. Denied!

  51. He'd come around in about a hundred issues or so, and end up palling around with the Avengers for a good few years. I actually have a lot of love for Namor in the Avengers as his arrival came right around the time I started reading the books on a regular basis.

  52. Don't fret Iron Man, there's plenty of b-list villains hanging around that are just dying to join up.

  53. Old-timey social networking at its finest. I long for the days when you could have a membership drive using the want ads.

  54. Quicksilver's hair, the beta-testing for Logan's hairdo.

  55. Self-deprecating Stan.

    I guess even Stan gets tired of Magneto boasting in those early issues, as we have yet another flashback in a flashback dealing with the origin of Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch.

  56. Old-timey social networking at its finest, part two.

    I guess the equivalent today would be tweeting your request for membership to #avengersmemberdrive.

  57. Quicksilver has lovely penmanship for someone who, and I'm only assuming here, writes really fast.

  58. Captain America fighting jungle beasts! Why? Who cares, as we've had a real lack of action in this issue.

  59. If only he would've fought a gorilla, we would've come full circle from our last post.

  60. I guess this is still early in Cap's career, as he hasn't mastered the art of ricocheting his shield back to him with every throw. There's nothing more foolish than a super-hero picking his shield up off the ground.

  61. Back in the states, Cap is still on his jungle high and looks to avoid the assembled reporters in true, man of action style.

    Surely there has to be a secret door somewhere, eh?

  62. Reunions!

    Just because the other Avengers are kid-sized to Giant-Man, shouldn't give him permission to treat them as such.

  63. Time-travelling villains! Although isn't there some sort of paradox being violated by having two disparate versions of the same character commenting about the same thing in real time?

  64. Did I mention that I love time-travelling villains? Maybe I'll go back in time and mention it there too!

  65. The drama...oh, the drama!

  66. Really Rick Jones? I mean really? (with apologies to Seth and Amy)

  67. Tip for Rick Jones on getting into the Avengers. Try robbing a bank or subjugating mankind first. It seemed to work out all right for the new line-up.

  68. I think Tony Stark is the poster child for personal reasons.

  69. Overly dramatic exits...

  70. ...and new beginnings!

And that brings the 150th issue extravaganza to a close. Let's see how we did on our quest to find 150 interesting things about Avengers #150. After totaling up the judges scores, it looks like we got to close, so close.

Lucky for you, you won't be going home empty-handed. That's right, along with the home version of the Random Longbox board game, every reader will also be going home with the identity of the new line-up that was teased in this very issue, but never revealed.

Here it is, enjoy...

(oh, and spoilers I suppose, for those of you not up on your 34 year old continuity)

As far as line-ups go, it doesn't get much better than that.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics