Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Synchronicity #3

If you had a week like me, you left the comic book store with change leftover from a twenty. All that means, is that we have more than the usual excuses to go raiding the longboxes for reading material.

As a public service, here's some books tangentially related to some of the ones that did come out this week.

  • It was one of those rare weeks with two (count 'em, two) books on the shelf with word balloons on the cover. Power Girl #10 and Green Lantern #52 were the two that went retro, so let's reminisce with some other dialogue heavy covers that we've seen here before. I really thought that there would've been more than this spattering of titles, but I suppose I could count this one also if I'm feeling generous.

    And hats off to Geoff Johns, for landing two issues on that list.

  • So Kitty Pryde is back in Uncanny X-Men #522, but we miss out having the interior drawn this time around by Terry Dodson. Have no fear, Random Longbox readers, for we know what that would look like...don't we?
Thanks for checking in again this week. See you around the internets!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Confusion through the ages

It's the week of getting back on track, and since this is Wednesday we better strap in for another time-traveling blog post known as Comic Book Days of Wednesdays Past!

First up is a trip back to the tail end of the Golden Age of comics in 1954! So what were the kids reading, unaware of what great comic book characters were waiting to be re-imagined in two short years? I'm confused. It's an appearance of the 50's Cap, hero of the teabaggers! This is actually the third appearance of his return, so why didn't his return herald the birth of the Silver Age?

To be fair it wasn't a true reimagining. Actually, I don't think this Captain America got re-imagined until some two decades later when they tried to reconcile his non-continuity appearances here with the modern stories. At the time, this was a commercial failure that didn't catch on. I guess the kids just weren't ready for the Silver Age yet, and this title went down as a failed relaunch.

So that's not confusing at all. Let's try again and hope for something a little more straightforward. And forward in time it is, to the hurly-burly days of 1983!

So much for not being confused.

Here's a title that I have never heard of before, even though it went for twenty-seven issues during the time when I first started collecting comics.

Two things strike me as curious about this book.

First, this book is written and drawn by William Messner-Loebs. I had no idea that WM-L had any pencilling talents. I've enjoyed his stories over the years, so that caught me completely by surprise.

Second, I can't imagine Marvel legal allowing a comic book character being called Wolverine these days.

And while we're talking about odd things, who knew that anybody other than Dave Sim ever published a book through Aardvark-Vanaheim?

All right, it's time to use the Randomizer for the power of good, as we pick the next completely random book to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #110 from January 1986, published by Marvel Comics!

It's good to see the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man again, as the last time we reviewed one of his books was way back in July!

While that's reason enough to be optimistic, this issue actually delivers in a couple of other areas as well.

First, it'll be the debut appearance of Daredevil at the Random Longbox. I dont' have a ton of book with Daredevil and Spider-Man, as both titles are ones that I collect more for the creators who are working on them, than a slavish devotion to the character. I'm a fan, just not enough of one to wade through the average stuff.

Which brings me to the second item of interest. The four-part Sin-Eater storyline that comes to a close in this issue just happens to be the debut work of Peter David.

It's been a while since I reread this story, and Peter David has obviously gone on to make quite a name for himself, so it should be interesting to see a hungry young creator looking to make his mark. See you in a day or two for the review.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

H-2-Oh no...

So it turns out that Augie De Blieck Jr. wasn't just slacking with the Pipeline Podcast after all.

I feel your pain.

It makes me wonder if there isn't some nefarious plot to get all of us comic book blogger/podcasters out of the way. For what, I haven't quite figured out yet.

Although Aquaman is coming back next month...coincidence? I think not.

More fun with Dredd

Seeing as how we had so much fun recently with Judge Dredd, let's get back into the action and look at the second story from Judge Dredd #16 that we talked about yesterday.

Night of the Bloodbeast
  • Writer: John Wagner
  • Artist: Garry Leach
  • Letterer: Tony Jacob
  • Colorist: John Burns
The post-nuclear future may be a rough and scary place, but some things never change. Case in point...the husband dragging his feet on the way to visit his mother-in-law.

Lucky for this particular son-in-law, he gets eaten by a vicious monster who steps out of the elevator, so he doesn't have to visit the old battle-axe after all!

By the time that Judge Dredd is on the scene, things have gotten even more grisly as the monster has moved beyond his initial two victims and is working his way through the apartment building looking for more meat.

In a throwback to another previous Judge Dredd story, we find out that the monster is actually a member of the Klegg race of aliens. A mutated Klegg, but a Klegg nonetheless.

For those unfamiliar with Judge Dredd continuity, the Kleggs are an alien mercenary race that the tyrant Chief Judge Cal used to quell disorder in Mega-City One. Needless to say, things didn't pan out quite right and the aliens were banished from earth.

Not all of the Kleggs made it off planet however, as this particular one was kept hostage by a couple who thought they could make a buck or two off him after the rest of the Kleggs were destroyed. They kept him caged and fed him scraps until he was strong enough to escape and eat his captors. Oops.

Now loose in the building, it is welcomed into a costume party where compliments on his "costume" don't dissuade him from eating the other partygoers. That's where Judge Dredd catches up him and tries to take him down.

With regular bullets not even slowing him down, Dredd switches to Dum-Dum rounds but the beast keeps coming. Not even a couple of shots directly to the brain are enough to stop the creature before it has Dredd in it's grasp.

But Dredd's aim was true, it just took the creature a little bit longer to realize that he was dead.

Taking his final utterance as a post-mortem nom-de-guerre, Dredd eulegizes Urk as just as much a victim as everyone else. After all, he was just a beast, innocent in his desire to quench his hunger.

A good judge, however, knows that sometimes you have to protect the city against the innocent as well as the guilty.


So far we're batting a thousand at the Random Longbox, as far as Judge Dredd stories go. While not as meaty (pardon the pun) as the previous tale, this one is just as entertaining with a little of the old ultra-violence.

This issue gives us a glimpse into the softer side of Judge Dredd, showing him to be more than just a cartoonish buffoon with a gun. Don't get me wrong, he's not crying over Urk's death or joining any candle-light vigils...but he does show that his sense of justice and the law is at least tempered with just a smidgen of humanity.

And suddenly the future doesn't look quite as dystopian.

Now it's time for me to get a little maudlin, as we say goodbye to Judge Dredd for now. Hopefully it won't be too long before the Randomizer picks another Dredd book, but in the meantime we'll carry on as best we can knowing that Mega-City One is in safe hands.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Eagle Comics

Monday, March 22, 2010

Judge Dredd #16

TITLE: Judge Dredd #16

PUBLISHER: Eagle Comics

COVER DATE: February 1985


32 pages


First off, a quick note on something that I didn't remember. Take a look at that value...32 pages for a buck! Even for 1985, that was a relatively good deal. Of course, this was back in the day when we had the luxury to not care about page counts and price. Nowadays, with comics creeping up to four bucks a pop, I find myself putting the 22 pagers at that price point back on the shelf.

Anyways, it's time we started talking about the glory that is Judge Dredd instead of modern day cover prices.

Judge Dredd is one of the fondest memories I have of my early collecting days. I remember browsing the rack and seeing this cover, and thought...that deserves another look. And boy, am I glad I did!

At the time, I was reading just The Avengers and The Uncanny X-Men so this was my first foray out of the super-hero realm. I knew next to nothing about the history of the character, or the story behind it, but it looked cool and was definitely different enough from what I was reading to warrant a "eh, what the heck" purchase.

Needless to say, that with my next trip to the comic book store I was back issue hunting for a new title.

Enough about me, let's see if the actual book lives up to my unexpectedly high, 25 year old expectations.

The Fink!
  • Writer: John Wagner
  • Artist: Mike McMahon
  • Letterer: Tom Frame
  • Colorist: John Burns
So as you can probably tell from the cover, there is something prowling the sewers of Mega-City One...and it has come to kill!

Yes, it's everyone's favorite member of the Angel gang, the Fink and his pet rat!

Just who is the Angel gang, and the Fink in particular, we'll get to in a minute. For right now, he's got a job to do and that would appear to be hunting down Judges.

The first one on his list is Judge Larter, who succumbs to the paralyzing effect of Fink's poisons. Helpless and immobile, the Fink drags him back into the sewers where he is soon devoured by a pack of rats called forth by Ratty.

Back at the Fink's lair, we see that there are two more names on his list of Judges marked for termination...Hershey and Dredd. With one Judge down, it's back to the surface world for the other two.

Judge Dredd, meanwhile, has been called to the scene of Judge Larter's gruesome murder and finds a calling card that Fink has left for him...a crude drawing of an angel next to his name. It doesn't take him long to figure out that one of his old cases may be coming back to haunt him, as there appears to be a survivor of the Angel gang running around.

From the shadows, the Fink uses his sling to poison random citizens and soon has the attention of the next Judge on his list. Just as Judge Dredd is about to warn Judge Hershey over the radio, she is beset upon by Fink.

She's tougher than he expects and soon has the upper hand. Not to worry though, as Ratty comes through and attacks her face, giving the Fink time to administer his paralyzing poison to the second Judge on his list.

Judge Dredd arrives just as Fink is packing Judge Hershey up in a body bag so that he can take her back to his lair...and the chase is on. It's a short one, however, as Fink dumps his poison in a local pool full of innocent civilians. While Judge Dredd calls for medical help over his radio, Fink and Ratty escape with their captive judge in tow.

While waiting for the cover of darkness for his next move, Fink takes a stroll down memory lane to remember his family, and more importantly, just why he is on a mission of vengeance in Mega-City.

Fink was the oldest son of Ma and Pa Angel. Ma died after giving birth to four boys, leaving Pa to take on the task of raising them to be the most vicious, orneriest, and baddest family the world has ever seen. They are from Texas, after all, so everything has to be bigger and badder...and more ornery!

Of the four boys, Fink is the loner of the group and spends most of his time hiding in holes in the ground. Tiring of the family life, he heads out the cursed earth that surrounds Texas. It's there that he uses his love of poison to catch unsuspecting travelers that stop at his various watering holes.

The time out in the radiation of the cursed earth takes its toll on Fink, and soon turn him into something beyond human. Years pass, and with his new cursed earth rat sidekick, he heads to Mega-City One when he hears that Judges have killed his family. That story can be found in a mini-series that was out earlier from Eagle Comics called Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest.

Back to the present, and as night has fallen, the Fink emerges from the sewers with the paralyzed Judge Hershey over his shoulder. He has something special planned for her, and soon makes his way to a monstrous recycling plant.

Being a Judge Dredd book, this is no ordinary recycling plant, for here they recycle dead bodies. In a city where eleven million people die a year, they have turned funerals into a mass production line of efficiency.

Great, now I'm going to get even more google searches from the conveyor belt fan-fic crowd. Click here if you're confused.

Killing his way to the control room of the massive facility, Fink hurls Judge Hershey down onto the massive conveyor belt which leads to recycling chambers. Fortunately for her, Judge Dredd has heard about the disturbance at the plant and shows up just as Judge Hershey is about to swallowed up by the machine.

Dodging Fink's poison missiles, Judge Dredd drives his mega-cycle through the complex and reaches the control room, shutting it down just as Judge Hershey is about to be disassembled alive. Now that she's relatively safe, Judge Dredd heads into the bowls of the machinery to hunt down Fink himself.

Ratty is the first one to strike, jumping at Dredd from the shadows. Never skipping a beat, Dredd grabs the rat and begins to drown him in the knee deep decomposing fluid of the recycling plant.

While Dredd deals with his rat, Fink jumps out and stabs him in the shoulder with a poisoned dagger. Using the last of his strength, Dredd reaches up and uses Ratty as a weapon, forcing him to bite his own master.

As anyone knows, one bite from a cursed earth rat is lethal. So as Fink's paralyzing poison begins to take it's effect on Dredd, Fink is laid low by the one thing in the world that he ever cared for.

Don't shed too many tears for our old pal Fink however, for as his years out in the cursed earth changed him and he survived the rat bite. He's later sentenced to life imprisonment in an isolation cube. Although knowing his prediliction for living in holes, he's probably very content.

There's also a bit of a happy ending for Ratty as well, for he also survived his encounter with Judge Dredd, and now lives happily ever after in the recycling plant where he now has an abundant food supply brought to his doorstop on a never-ending conveyor belt of cadavers!


Ahhh, Judge I've missed you. Reading this issue again makes me wonder why I ever stopped in the early 90's. I blame the X-Men and their takeover of my reading habits around this time.

I've always had a fondness for stories featuring over-the-top violence mixed with dark humor. I realize that makes me sound a little crazy, or a touch sociopathic, but there's something about movies like A Clockwork Orange or comics like Preacher or Hitman that are strangely captivating.

It has been so long since I've read any Judge Dredd books that I forgot how much this book was in that vein. In fact, it makes me wonder why, with the success of Hitman and Preacher, no publisher was willing to capitalize on that to try and reintroduce Dredd to an American audience. It seems like a no-brainer to me re-reading this issue now.

I guess it's all Stallone's fault...or so I've heard, as I've never seen the movie. Thank goodness for small favors.

And since I've already mentioned Garth Ennis and Preacher, I might as well point out the obvious influence that Judge Dredd must have had on him. In this story alone we not only have the sick, twisted, and morally-bankrupt family unit that has become an Ennis trademark in his books, but as an added bonus they're from Texas too!

This book actually has one more six page story in it, but we'll save that for tomorrow. It's late, and I don't want to overdo it, getting back into the swing of things.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Eagle Comics

Monday, March 15, 2010

What are regular updates really good for anyway?

Hey everybody! I'm still here.

I've never let the blog go a week without adding a review or content before, so I apologize to all of you for letting your random expectations go unrealized.

I also apologize to Judge Dredd, for keeping him waiting.

As regular readers are probably aware, I've been waged in an battle of epic proportions in my basement/home office against the combined villainy of flooding, crooked contractors, and asbestos tile.

It's been a tough slog, and if my adventure was adapted into a summer crossover we'd probably be on issue #7 of 8.

My office is slowly coming back into shape, and I hope for regular posting to resume shortly. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for continuing to stop by.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fun with google searches and Judge Dredd too!

It's been a while since I took a look at some of the keywords that are used by readers to google into my site. It's quickly turned into one of the favorite aspects of my job here at the Random Longbox, so let's see what seemingly random and nonsensical searches brought you here.

Let's get the porn out of the way first.
  • "barbarian books" topless
  • "bare midriff"
  • erotic stories superman emasculated cock kent
The first one I can understand, since I actually did review a Conan book. I'll even understand the second, since it's possible that I may have mentioned the phrase "bare midriff" once or twice in referencing someone's costume.

That last one though, I don't know. I've said it before that I'm a Superman fan, but I don't know that I want to read (much less ever haven written about) erotic stories featuring him. I'm also trying to figure out if that's a Freudian slip with his name, or was someone looking for a porn movie parody?

And while we're on the subject, this one sounds bad but I'm too scared to punch it into my address bar...
  • beat my
This next one needs to be a real villain, if he's not already.
  • baron von anagram
Maybe for Encyclopedia Brown?

Finally, we got a couple comic book related ones that have me stumped.
  • batgirl conveyer belt furnace
  • robin conveyer belt furnace
Is there some small subsection of fan-fiction specializing in industrial material handling and recycling? Although, now that I think of it, with supervillains being as sadistically overly complicated as can be, any good death trap worth it's salt needs to have a conveyor belt feeding into a red hot furnace.

So let's get the next random book picked, in hopes that it'll lead to more keyword blog content in the future. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Judge Dredd #16 from February 1985, published by Eagle Comics!

So it only took nine months for the Randomizer to finally pick a Judge Dredd book. This was one of the first books that I ever picked up that wasn't published by Marvel or DC. It's also one of those titles that I keep telling myself that I'm going to go back and reread, but never get around too.

The first two years of this title were filled with some truly outrageous stuff that I definitely wasn't getting in the mainstream stuff. Thankfully now, we have Garth Ennis to fill that niche. That makes me wonder if Garth Ennis has ever written a Judge Dredd story? It seems like an obvious fit to me, but maybe it's too obvious. He very well could've, as I haven't read a Judge Dredd book in probably 20 years.

So yeah, there wasn't a bad story in the first twentysome issues of this title. I'm not sure exactly how they reprinted the stories from their original publication in England, but I'm assuming they picked the best of the best first. It shows, and I'm looking forward to cracking one of these open again. See you in a day or two for the review.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday Synchronicity #2

Because I demanded it, as a lazy way to get new content on the blog over the weekend without too much's the return of Saturday Synchronicity!

So what happened in this week's comics that had some tangential relation to issues we've reviewed before?

I'm glad you asked.
  • So all that stuff happened over in Justice League: Cry For Justice #7 this week. I won't spoil it for you here, but suffice it to say...if you would like to learn about the beginnings of a certain dead character's story, you can reminisce along with Nightwing and Speedy about the one night stand in Japan that lead to said character's conception over here.

  • Girl Comics #1 celebrated women creators by giving them their very own title that they could cram themselves into. I checked my stats, and wouldn't you know it, we had a female creator show up once or twice too!
That's all for this week, so stay tuned for more random reviews and conversation through the week and we'll see you back here next Saturday!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tangent Comics: Tales of the Green Lantern #1

TITLE: Tales of the Green Lantern #1


COVER DATE: September 1998


23 pages


When I was pulling this particular issue out of the longboxes, I noticed that I only had a few issues from the first Tangent series of books. I thought for sure that I had 'em all, as I remember enjoying these books and I guess I just assumed that I did have the complete collection.

So what were the Tangent books, some of you are no doubt asking?

They were a series of one-shots that explored an alternate earth (now known as Earth-9) where familiar super-hero names were recycled and re-imagined as different characters. This particular take on the heroes was the brainchild of Dan Jurgens, and came from back in they day when DC used to do the occasional 5th week specials, and I remember this being one of the better ones.

The funny thing is, is that I have fond recollections of the concept but beyond the Green Lantern (whom we're going to read about it a second) I have next to no recollection of any of the other characters. The only thing I do recall is that Superman was a black man and the Joker was an anarchist girl. I'm sure we'll get to those issues sooner or later as the Randomizer deems fit, but for now it's all about Green Lantern.

This version of Green Lantern took the concept literally and features a female protagonist who carries an actual lantern on a shephard's hook that emits green light. She wanders in and out of reality, using her powers to give the dead one last chance to make amends among the living, like a cross between the Phantom Stranger and Rod Serling.

James Robinson and J.H. Williams III were responsible for her first appearance, and the concept perfectly fits both of their storytelling styles. For this issue, which is from the second series of Tangent books, they handle the framing sequence while letting a group of other talented creators tell some smaller stories.

With that said, let's travel along with the Green Lantern of Earth-9 as she shines her light into the darkness of men's souls.

Tales of the Green Lantern
  • Writer: James Robinson
  • Art: J.H. Williams III & Mick Gray
  • Colors & Seperarions: Lee Loughridge
  • Letters: Comicraft
  • Editer: Eddie Berganza
  • Tangent based on concepts by Dan Jurgens
The issue opens up with the Green Lantern talking directly to us, the reader. She breaks the fourth wall to let us know that the stories in this issue are special, as all three of them portend to tell the true origin of the Green Lantern.

Which one is real? Are they all real? Or are none of them?

I guess we'll just have to read on and decide for ourselves.

Brightest Light
  • Story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
  • Art: Mike Mayhew & Wade Van Grawbadger
First up is the story of Lois Lane...Archaeologist, adventurer, and explorer. For this particular tale, she also plays the role of murder victim.

Off the coast of Florida, she has been hired by Booster Gold, a billionaire playboy, to search for lost treasure. What she finds is an irradiated wasteland filled with pitiful creatures of the sea who have already suffered enough by man's hands.

Returning to the surface, she tells Booster Gold that she will have no part of the plunder down below and that he should call of his hunt. Alas, Booster could not be swayed and with the help of his servant, Kilowog, they murder Lois and dump her into the sea.

Falling into the depths of the wasted sea, she is rescued by the same creatures that she showed compassion for earlier. They take her to an underground citadel that is bathed in green light and she emerges as the Green Lantern!

Gifted with a second chance at life, she has vowed to avenge the dead in a quest for justice. Her first act will be to avenge her own murder. Booster is unprepared to deal with an undead shade, nor the sea monsters that she calls from the depths to drag Booster down with them.

Darkest Light
  • Story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
  • Art: Georges Jeanty & Drew Garaci
The second version of the origin story takes place in the war-torn nation of Czechoslovakia. The ethnic cleansing of one people at the hands of another has given birth to two adversaries who continue to fight the battles of the past to this day.

Manhunter has risen to avenge the deaths of her people who have died in the ethnic camps of Darkside!

Manhunter uses the tools of man to bring them to justice, while Darkside has taken the mystical power of a green orb with which she can raise the dead to do her bidding.

In the midst of their epic and final battle, Manhunter's mind wanders to the train of events that led her here. After the war, it was assumed that Darkside was finished, but Manhunter knew better. She spent her time hunting her and eventually tracked her down, living a quite life under a false identity. She quickly kills the mass murderer, only to find out that Darkside still lives and has resurfaced back in Czechoslovakia. Now with the guilt of an innocent victim on her conscience, she has returned to hunt down Darkside once and for all.

Back in the present, Manhunter is running low on ammo working her way through the hordes of zombies that Darkside is sending her way. It's then, that she sees the ghost of the innocent girl that she had gunned down earlier by mistake. It turns out the dead woman is Darkside's sister, who had fled to try to build a life far from the evil influence of her mad sister.

The dead woman is not here for vengeance, however, as she sees a chance to end her sisters villainy once and for all. As the sisters are locked in a mystic battle, Manhunter comes from the shadows swinging a lantern that she is using as a makeshift club.

Darkside's mystic orb is shattered, along with Darkside herself, leaving behind only the green energy which her sister collects and store it in the lantern that Manhunter had used. With her sister defeated for good, the Green Lantern will now become a shining beacon of hope for all those that have been wronged.

Know Evil
  • Story: John Ostrander
  • Artists: Ryan Sook & Mick Gray
The last tale in our trilogy of origins centers on a brash, young sorceress Zatanna. She has tracked down the powerful sorcerers that make up the Dark Circle and is demanding a place in their coven.

Filled with the likes of Etrigan, Rha's al Ghul, the Creeper, and Madame X'Al, they are disdainful of this young upstart who would dictate to them her place in their circle. They send her on a fool's errand, promising her a place in the circle if she brings the legendary Green Lantern to them. They have no intention of allowing her into the circle, for they know full well that it will lead to her damnation.

Determined as always, she is successful in tracking it and it's current wielder Jason Blood. During her attack, her spells are redirected back at her causing her body to perish and her sould to wander.

That actually turns out to be an opportunity for both Zatanna and Jason Blood. The lantern, it turns out, controls the wielder to give life to the restless dead so that they can find final peace.

For years Jason Blood has held this duty, but the lantern senses a soul more in need of guidance than his. Now bonded with the lantern, Zatanna has become the new Green Lantern, allowing the soul of Jason Blood to finally find peace.

So there you have it. Three lives lost with three tales of revenge and redemption. Are any of these the true origin of the Green Lantern? We'll never know, for there are more mausoleum's filled with the dead who need justice as well, and this Green Lantern has no more time for memories that may or may not be hers.


It seems that at times alternate versions of existing characters are a dime-a-dozen. The best ones are complete re-imaginings of the core concept, above and beyond just slapping a goatee on the character and calling it a day.

This was one of the better ones, as James Robinson, J.H. Williams III, and Dan Jurgens have taken the Green Lantern name and completely re-worked it. I like the concept and the structure of this title, as it gives a wide latitude to tell a variety of stories. It's a perfect structure for an anthology title, reminiscent of The House of Secrets and The House of Mystery. It's a shame that there's just not a market to warrant the return of this title as an ongoing, as I'd love to see it smack dab in the middle of the DCU.

Alas, in the meantime I have Vertigo's House of Mystery to keep me entertained. In the world of consolation prizes, you can't do much better than that.

The artwork in this issue was really exceptional, with the highlight being Mike Mayhew and Georges Jeanty. I don't have too much by them, but what I saw here was really solid. The only downside in this issue was Ryan Sook's chapter. It wasn't bad, but it was back when he was in full Mike Mignola mode. I, for one, like his current style a whole lot better and am content to let Mike Mignola do the Mike Mignola style.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...
  • The official website for J.H. Williams III
  • Dan Abnett's official website
  • The official site of Ryan Sook
  • Mike Mayhew's Studio

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Since when did punctuation in comic book titles become a bad thing?

Another comic book Wednesday has come and gone, but this one had with it it's fair share of chuckles with ridiculous sounding comic book titles aplenty.

Some of these may actually be good (although don't count your chickens just yet Mr. Loeb), but that's not the point. Vote in the poll for your favorite ridiculous, tongue-twisting title of the week.

What was the most ridiculous sounding comic book title of the week?

In all seriousness, what's going on over at Marvel?

Is this some secret plot by the Illuminati to confuse the hell out of us to the point that we'll buy anything as long as it's got a #1 on the cover?

Or maybe someone let the assistant editors run things this week?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, but that's enough fun and games for now. How about we see if the Randomizer can pick a random book for us to review that sounds even more ridiculous than these. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Tangent Comics: Tales of the Green Lantern #1 from September 1998, published by DC Comics!

While it has a long title, it's not too obnoxiously crazy or ridiculous. There are, however, a couple of things that strike me as interesting with today's pick.

First off, for not owning more than 4 Green Lantern books before Geoff Johns got his hands on the character, the Green Lanterns have shown up here a bit more than I would expect them to thanks to Action Comics Weekly, and now Tangent Comics.

Secondly, this issue features multiple stories and it's surprising how many issues we've reviewed with second and third features. My back of the napkin calculations puts it at a little over 20%. I'd be shocked if 20% of my collection featured issues with multiple stories, but I may have to revisit that assumption.

As far as the actual content of the book itself, the Tangent Green Lantern is the only character from this imprint that I can still vividly recall with some clarity. Overall, Tangent Comics was an interesting concept that never seemed to amount to anything greater than the sum of its parts. With that being said, this one I remember as being the most enjoyable of the different titles that did come out under the Tangent banner.

See you in a day or two for the review and we'll see how it reads these days.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The New Defenders #129

TITLE: The New Defenders #129


COVER DATE: March 1984


23 pages


I've already written previously (and not that long ago) about my history with The Defenders. But this is The New Defenders, so it could only be bigger and better...right?

New Avengers is better than Avengers, right? The New Thunderbolts were better than the genius Thunderbolts of Busiek and Bagley, right? The New Ultimates are better than the Ultimates, right?

Yeah, that train of thought isn't going anywhere helpful. Let's just read this thing and see if being "New" in the 80's was any better than being "New" in the 00's.

  • Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
  • Artists: Don Perlin & Kim DeMulder
  • Letterer: Janice Chiang
  • Colorist: Christie Scheele
  • Editor: Carl Potts
  • Editor in Chief: Jim Shooter
The story starts in the middle of a battle between the New Mutants and the New Defenders. The scene? Professor's School for Gifted Youngsters. Why they're fighting, we're not so sure, but for three fifths of the Defenders it's a reluctant battle.

Angel, Iceman, and the Beast are understandably going easy on the latest crew of young mutants being trained by their old teacher, Professor Xavier. The same can not be said of Valkyrie, who seems to be possessed with a blood lust befitting a true Norse warrior. It's only after she runs her blade through Wolfsbane and is about to deliver the death blow when Moondragon intercedes.

She has been studying the situation and has come to the conclusion that none of this is real.

Using her powerful mental abilities, she shatters the illusion and we find out what has really been going on. The Defenders have been caught by the Secret Empire and are being subjected to their mind ripper machine in what has been so far, a futile attempt to brainwash them.

The leader of the Secret Empire, Professor Power, wishes to use the brainwashed Defenders to hunt down and kill the New Mutants in an attempt to gain revenge against Professor Xavier.

Like any good megalomaniac, would-be world conquering super-villain, Professor Power has more than one scheme going on.

While he pursues his vendetta against Professor X, he also has his sights on something rather larger...the creation of a perfect Utopia on Earth after civilization has been purged in a nuclear war of his prodding.

It all involves the launching of a satellite that will beam subliminal messages, inciting the leaders of the free world into all out nuclear war.

In another part of the Secret Empire's base, a lone figure strides the hallways. Her name is Seraph, and she is a trusted member of the organization. Unfortunately, she's also been working as a double agent for the Soviets as well and the time to disrupt Professor Power's evil scheme is now.

Freeing another captive of the Secret Empire, they manage to wreak enough havoc that the Defenders are able to use the ensuing chaos to their advantage and break free from the mind ripper device.

One short rendezvous later, and they are working together to disrupt the ensuing launch of the brain-washing satellite rocket.

Professor Power, realizing that he is losing the upper hand, disposes of some disloyal society members and makes good his escape. He seems unconcerned about the pending rocket launch, for if the Defenders stop it, he has other plans in motion to achieve his ultimate goal of a perfect society under his control.

Speaking of that same rocket, the Defenders can't afford to be as blase about it's pending liftoff. Racing to the launch pad, they're seconds too late as the rocket begins the final ten seconds of it's countdown.

Valkyrie and Moondragon, determined not to let the rocket take off successfully, do their best Captain America and Bucky impersonation as they are lifted skyward.


Like most books that have been around for a long time, the book we're reading in 1984 is a far cry from the issue we've read previously from 1977. Where before, we had a somewhat melodramatic book about a group of misfit superheroes, this time around we have a relatively straightforward team book of B and C list characters. It' a different dynamic, and it loses most of the charm that it had held previously.

That's not to say that issue was bad, it was just kinda boring. The villainous plot by Professor Power was pretty much by the book comic book villainy. The dynamics of the team lacked any real tension, with the only drama coming from the Beast's monologues about having second thoughts about bringing this team together.

The only real highlight of this issue was watching the ladies come to the forefront. Moondragon and Valkyrie are the real strength of this issue, and they make for an interesting dynamic in how they play off of each other. The restrained and controlled demeanor of Moondragon contrasts nicely against the action-oriented and emotional Valkyrie.

I'm still intrigued about the idea of the Defenders as a series, but I think I'm going to stick with the 70's stuff for right now.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...
  • Your one and only website for everything Defender's related, and their particular take on this issue
  • J.M. DeMatteis' personal blog Creation Point