Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lazy intro blogging, now with extra-added science content...and the Avengers too!

It's time again for another random trip through my longboxes, but as it is my prerogative to do, I like to hold your attention hostage for a paragraph or two while I elaborate on a non-related comic book item or two.

Today, I'm getting lazy and have just a couple of quick science related items that caught my attention.

  • Your homemade Black Bolt costume is about to get a whole lot more bad-ass.

  • So scientists are just now gearing up to create "true" random numbers? So everything I've been doing over the last ten months has been a sham of pseudo-randomness?!

    My whole blogging worldview has just been upended. Now, where can I get one of these quantum generators?
So why was this lazy blogging?

The enlightened among you may have noticed that both of these news items were brought up on the latest Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. My apologies to the rogues for stealing some of their thunder, but give 'em a listen as they're good people.

And if you like that, you may also want to check out George Hrab and his Geologic Podcast, and Brian Dunning and his Skeptoid Podcast.

So now that I've wandered off track sufficiently enough, let's get back to the business at hand of picking a new book. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is The Avengers (Vol. 3) #35 from December 2000, published by Marvel Comics!

So it would appear that Avengers fever is hitting everyone right now, and the Randomizer is no exception with this being the second Avengers book this month that has randomly come up for review. You better be careful Randomizer, or you're likely to get a quantum upgrade.

This time around we're set down right in the middle of Kurt Busiek's awesome run that he put in around the turn of the century. His Avenger's run is definitely one of the high points of Avengers history, but we kinda got a bum deal with this pick.

Not only had George Perez left the title with the previous issue, but this one is also a tie-in to the Maximum Security storyline. I don't remember too much about that particular storyline, other than it had Jerry Ordway on art and Ego, The Living Planet, was somehow a prison colony for the Kree? Maybe? I guess there's one quick way to find out.

On the plus side, we do get to take an advance peek of what John Romita Jr. will be bringing to the Avengers when they get relaunched in June, as he pencils this issue. I didn't remember JRJr doing any significant amount of Avengers work in the past, and it turns out there have been less than a handful of times that he's drawn an Avengers book. You think with three decades of work in the Marvel Bullpen, there would be a few more issues around.

See you in a day or two for the review and we'll enjoy it together.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hawkman (Vol. 2) #10

TITLE: Hawkman #10


COVER DATE: May 1987


22 pages


Hawkman is one of those characters that I had no real affinity for until Geoff Johns got his hands on him, along with the likes of Green Lantern, Flash, and the JSA. During my formative comic book years, I just remember Hawkman being somewhat of a rebooted mess, so I never did seek out any books of his own.

It also didn't help that I didn't really buy into his hook...alien police officer who uses bird wings and big weapons and who gains the power of flight from the Nth metal belt that he wears. It seems that if your belt is giving you your power of flight, then the wings would just get in the way. And how do you control the wings? Does the metal do that as well?

It all just seemed a little goofy, with too many questions, and in all honesty I just didn't have the gumption to invest the time to figure it out. But that's what I love about Geoff Johns. He takes the goofy and runs with it, playing it dead serious all the way, and it somehow works. In the intervening years, I've come to enjoy this character quite a bit, although the wings not giving you your power of flight still kinda bugs steps...

But that's a topic for another day, for today we're here to talk about Hawkman #10. It's post-Crisis, and I literally have no idea which version of Hawkman we're going to get. I suppose there's only one way to find out.

All Wars Must End!
  • Plot/Co-Editor: Barbara Randall
  • Dialogue: Dan Mishkin
  • Penciller: Richard Howell
  • Inker: Carlos Garzon
  • Letterer: Agustin Mas
  • Colorist: Michele Wolfman
  • Co-Editor: Denny O'Neil
The story opens up with Hawkman assessing the recent chain of events, kicking himself for letting Deron Ved escape. Who's Deron Ved? As near as I can tell, he's a would be world conqueror commanding a Thanagarian invasion fleet poised just outside of Earth's atmosphere. Not one to navel-gaze too much, Hawkman continues to club his way through the Thanagarians, looking for Ved.

Hawkwoman, meanwhile, has problems of her own while trying to protect the police commissioner of Midway City. With the help of the Gentlemen Ghost she gets him to safety, which allows her the chance to catch up back up with Hawkman.

Following the trail of unconscious Thanagarians, she finds him in Deron Ved's abandoned flagship where he has overheard Ved giving the command for the next phase of the all-out thermonuclear attack! Realizing that they may be somewhat outclassed, they rig Ved's spaceship to emit a frequency that only one particular person will be able to hear, in the hope's of calling him here.

In the meantime, they still need to find Ved. Using the Absorbacon, a machine with mind tracking capabilities, they are able to see through other's eyes and soon pick up the trail of Deron Ved. Hawkman rushes out to catch him, while Hawkwoman continues to use the Absorbacon to help guide him.

It doesn't take long before Hawkman and Ved are engaged in a rousing bit of fisticuffs. During the tussle, we get a bit of the history between the two men and their time on Thanagar together.

Deron Ved was the instructor at the police academy when Katar Hol was looking to prove himself as a young wingman. There's always been a bit of an antagonistic relationship between the two, fueled by the fact that they have been the only two to ever have been awarded the honor wings.

While it's only hinted at here, Ved seems to have had a falling out with the Thanagarian Police Force. Now leading an invasion force, he will prove the true mettle of what it means to be Thangarian while besting the traitor, Katar Hol, in the process.

Breaking free, Ved manages to grab a police officer to use as a hostage. Now on the defensive, Katar and Shayera are forced to take off their wings to save the life of the hostage. Donning Hawkman's tufts and feathers, Ved leaves the Hawks defenseless so that he can continue his invasion plans.

Luckily for the Earth, however, Hawkman had previously booby trapped his wings and now uses a gyroscopic remote control to sabotage the wings that Ved wears. Damaged as they may be, he still manages to make his way to his command ship. Before he can make it onboard, Hawkman and Hawkwoman arrive in their borrowed police car to stop him once and for all.

With no weapons to bring him down, they're forced to improvise. Now I'm not sure how effective this would actually be, but it sure is inspired.

But hey, this is comic books, and the rubber fire hose proves to be too much for Deron Ved to deal with. Defeated and brought low, Hawkman reclaims his mask and wings.

Now, all they need to do is deal with disarming that pesky invasion force waiting somewhere in Earth orbit. They won't, however, have to do that alone.

What are you looking so surprised about Hawks? It's not like you didn't send a distress signal for Superman just 15 pages ago.


This was a bit of a light read, to tell you the truth.

I guess this is a later addition to the character of Hawkman, but I prefer my winged warriors a bit more gruff, hairy, and aggressive. Someone who's going to use his over-sized mace first and ask questions later. This issue was kinda like watching The Soprano's episodes rerun on A&E. Even the fight scenes seemed sanitized. I mean, seriously...they stopped the mastermind of a would-be alien invasion by tying him up with a rubber hose?!

Dan Mishkin does a serviceable job with the story, but he was handed the unenviable task of finishing up the story that the previous writer had been building up for some time, working with a plot from the editor. And he didn't really get a chance to properly end the story, as John Byrne gets to do that over in Action Comics. Mishkin definitely gets an "A" for effort, but in the larger scheme of things this issue was a little weak.

Steve Howell does an admirable job with the art for the most part, but if I didn't know any better I'd swear there were two different inkers on this issue. There were pages that were dark, detailed, and full of shadows. Likewise, there were also pages that looked thin, weak, and stiff. Not as many, mind you, but still enough to be noticed.

On a positive note, the action heads from this issue over to Action Comics #588, which was at the beginning of John Byrne's relaunch of the Superman franchise. It's the Hawks and Superman fighting Thanagarians in space, and it's a bit more of a complete package than this issue seemed to be. So if you have a hankering to read a Hawkman/Superman team-up, I'd skip right to that one.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Things about comics I don't know, and then there's Hawkman

So I fell asleep on the couch last night and didn't have a chance to put the finishing touches on the post that was supposed to show up yesterday, so a day late and a dollar short, here we go...

It's Wednesday Thursday, and also time to pick a new random book to review, but as we are sometimes accustomed to doing let's take a look at Comic Book Days of Wednesdays Past to see what the kids were reading once upon a time.

We've fired up the Randomizer with the years from 1938-2009, so let's see when our first stop is...


We're going way back for this one. Maybe we'll be lucky and get a cool WWII cover to ogle over. So what was on the spinner rack sixty-six years ago?

It's The Blue Beetle #31, with our main hero looking rather perplexed and/or panicked on the cover. Nothing oozes leadership in battle like a puzzled expression on your face.

And I have no idea what "Clips the Nips" means, but with political correctness being what it is, I would imagine I should feel somewhat offended. Best to move on before anyone starts picketing in protest outside of Random Longbox headquarters.

Back to the Randomizer we go, and this time we're off to 1958!

It's The Lone Ranger #120. Now I'm far from the world's greatest (or any sort of) Lone Ranger fan, but here's something else I didn't know...

Who knew that the Lone Ranger was so pissed?

Maybe he's just mad because we're making him go over the fence first? Who knows.

I say we get back to the present post-haste, before he goes all Jonah Hex on us.

So with the Randomizer back focusing on my collection, what is the next book we'll be reading? Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Hawkman (Vol. 2) #10 from May 1987, published by DC Comics!

And just as I'm addressing things I don't know about in comics...enter Hawkman, stage right!

So is this Carter Hall? Katar Hol? A Thanagarian? An Earthman?

I honestly have no idea. The only reason that I have this issue, is because it's a very tenuous crossover with Action Comics #588 from the Byrne era. I read it once, and if I remember correctly, Superman only shows up on the last page. Not essentially required reading for Superman fans, but us collectors are nothing if not completists.

So join me in a day or two for the review, and we'll find out together just who this guy is...hopefully.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Avengers #269

TITLE: Avengers #269

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER DATE: July 1986


23 pages


As much as I love The Avengers, I have a soft spot just as big for Kang. To me, he's the classic comic book villain with just the right touch of crazy and Machiavellian tactics that he uses in his never ending quest for power. Throw in a healthy dose of time travel, and you've pretty much created a character made just for me.

And I haven't even touched on the fantastic visuals yet. Who else but a world conquering villain could pull of a green jump suit with purple gloves and thigh high boots. It shouldn't work, but add a purple diving suit helmet and it all just comes together against all odds.

If I was to put a list together of my top ten Avengers stories of all time, I can think of at least four right off the bat that feature Kang, including my all time favorite Avengers Forever and the better than it had any right to be first story arc in Young Avengers.

This particular storyline involves Kang attempting to get rid of all of the divergent timeline Kangs that are floating around out there. And when you mess around with time travel as much as Kang, you're bound to create one or two thousand. This is the last part of this story, and like the cover promises, it's Kang versus his future self, Immortus. Will the Avengers survive this clash of time-traveling titans?

Read on...

The Once and Future Kang!
  • Writer: Roger Stern
  • Breakdowns: John Buscema
  • Finished Art: Tom Palmer
  • Letterer: Jim Novak
  • Colorist: Christie Scheele
  • Editor: Mark Gruenwald
  • Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Now seeing as how this is the third issue of a three part story, and our heroes are trapped and at he mercy of Kang...isn't it time for some super-villain boasting and pontificating? I believe that's actually part of the union laws for would-be world conquerors.

Not one to disappoint, Kang delivers...

and delivers...

and delivers...

In the interest of brevity and keeping my audience awake, we're going to give you the cliff note's version of Kang's speech, which basically recaps his history from his origins to present day.

For those gluttons for punishment out there, click over here or here for Kang's history in all of it's unabridged glory.

For everyone else, it goes a little something like this.

Born in the peaceful and enlightened 31st century, Kang is a young man who craves the glory of battle. Finding a time machine, he heads back into Earth's distant past and sets himself up as the Pharaoh Rama-Tut where the Fantastic Four ruin his sweet gig and force him fleeing into the future where he encounters Dr. Doom in the 20th Century.

Inspired by his meeting with Doom, he travels to the war-torn and savage 41st century and uses his knowledge of technology to set himself up as Kang the Conqueror for the first time. He's soon bored however, and decides to test his mettle against Dr. Doom. Instead, upon returning to the past, he meets the Avengers for the first time.

It goes without saying that the Avengers win, but Kang would be back a couple of times. On one of those occasions, the Avengers found themselves in the 41st century as Kang works on conquering one of the last kingdoms not under his control. Through a twist of circumstance, the Avengers find themselves working with Kang after one of his lieutenant's demands the death of Ravonna, a princess of the newly defeated kingdom. The only problem is that Kang has fallen in love with her. She jumps in front of a laser blast meant for Kang, taking her life and saving his, but at the same time leaving him a broken man.

After a couple of other super-hero scrapes, Kang finds himself in Limbo where he stumbles upon the abandoned fortress of Immortus. Using his technology, he's able to snatch Ravonna from the time stream the moment before she died. Joyous though their reunion may be, Kang is unsettled as he learns that all of his machinations through time have created thousands of divergent timeline Kangs.

That pretty much brings us up to speed for this issue, as Kang has been successful in eliminating all but one of his inferior counterparts. The icing on the cake is that he has captured the Avengers as well, and he has them trapped in a stasis beam so that they may see him eliminate his last double and solidify his title as Kang the Conquerer!

Like any good superhero team, the Avengers did not just sit idly by while Kang boasted. Hercules has been busy the whole time straining against the stasis beams. He eventually weakens them just enough that Captain Marvel is able to transform to energy, which overloads the machine and sets the Avengers free.

It's game on as the two big powerhouses of this lineup, Namor and Hercules, team up to deliver one heckuva punch. Through the wall Kang goes, with the rest of the Avengers in hot pursuit.

Before we get all caught up in the heat of battle, there's still the second Kang to be dealt with. Fortunately for the Avengers, it would appear that the recently snatched from time Ravonna has her own agenda as she pulls a gun on Kang.

Torn between two Kangs, she pleads with Kang II to not go after Kang I. Her words are wasted, as Kang could never let a slight like he's suffered go unanswered. Realizing that she has lost Kang(s) forever, she turns into the arms of a mysterious figure. Another Kang, perhaps?!

Back into the heat of battle, we catch up with the Avengers trying to defeat Kang, who is holding his own against Earth's mightiest heroes quite well. Using this to his advantage, Kang II appears from the shadows and aims his blaster square at the back of Kang I.

It's all for naught, however, as Kang I tampered with his blaster before, just in case something like this came to pass. It did, and now Kang II is no more, leaving just one Kang to rule them all!

End of story, right? Let's hold the champagne in reserve for a few more seconds, as the real puppet master reveals himself.

It turns out that Immortus has been pulling Kang's strings all along, nudging and tricking him into doing Immortus' bidding without Kang ever realizing it. Now that all of the false Kang's have been eliminated, Immortus reveals that there is still one more...himself!

That's right, Immortus is Kang too. Immortus has always been a bit of a mysterious, whose side is he really on, time traveller, so it makes sense. Ravonna claims that Immortus is everything that was ever good about Kang, who is still so full of hate at this time.

Kang has heard enough however, as he lunges forward to grab the Psyche-Globe from Immortus's grasp, which he claims holds all of he memories and knowledge from every version of Kang that has ever existed. Kang will have that power, but in the classic case of be careful what you wish for, it's all too much and an insane Kang goes running from Immortus' fortress into the blank expanse of limbo.

Successful in his quest to eliminate the thousands of Kangs, Immortus resolves to reclaim his role as ruler of Limbo. The Avengers are still unwilling to let the murder of a thousand Kangs go unanswered, but Immortus is beyond such moral trivialities when the balance of all reality is at stake.

With the wave of a hand, the Avengers are sent back to the 20th Century, leaving Immortus alone with Ravonna, his one true love.


By all rights, this issue shouldn't have been as enjoyable as it was.

Over half of the issue was devoted to flashbacks of previous stories. Those flashbacks deal with nothing less than time travel and divergent realities. Throw in multiple versions of one time travelling character and you have the recipe for a confusing mess.

Like Kang's costume, however, it defies the odds and works. The first half is admittedly a little slow, but given how the recap of Kang's origin takes us on a whirlwind tour of some of the best of Marvel continuity, I gave it a pass. It doesn't hurt either, as we have the immensely talented John Buscema and Tom Palmer supplying the visuals. Their take on the Avengers, as well as the flashback guest stars of Dr. Doom and The Fanstastic Four, are pitch perfect. For me, when I think of the Avengers, it's Buscema and Palmer's versions that instantly pop to mind. Luckily for us, they gave us 45 issues of Avengers glory to feast upon.

By the time Immortus reveals himself, the action takes hold and Roger Stern manages to tie everything together perfectly, giving us some great Kang on Kang action in the process.

I know I've probably said this before, but re-reading this issue really make me miss the fact that the old Avengers have been m.i.a. for so long. With the heroic age right around the corner, I'm hopeful that we'll get back to a little bit of that same spirit that made the old 70's and 80's issues so much damn fun. It would appear that the relaunch of The Avengers is going to have Kang back front and center, so that's definitely a step in the right direction.

All characters are artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lost in translation...und Die Rächer!

I had a post up recently about a new collection of books that dropped into my lap. One of the odder books in it was a German language version of Texas Rangers #67.

Now I'm no stranger to the German language, after taking four years worth of classes during high school. Unfortunately, that was over twenty years ago and the German words or phrases I remember I can number on one hand.

Of course, there's the swear word we were taught in chapter four of our textbook.
Although, using an online translator, it's apparently not quite as blue as I remember. Oh well.

The other phrase was my standard answer when called on in class.
Ich habe keine ahnung.
So I wasn't expecting to understand much of this issue, but thought it would be fun to thumb through. At the very least, I figured I'd be able to at least understand the sound effects.

I guess I was wrong.

I don't know what type of revolvers they use in Germany, but...


I think my six-shooter cap gun that I had when I was eight sounded more threatening.

It would probably just be better if you pretended to shoot and hollered out BANG at the same time.

It looks like things are getting a tad more realistic later on in the issue.


While I can imagine this sound effect if you were shooting tin cans off a rock at thirty paces, I don't think that's quite what they were aiming at.

On second thought, it's got an umlaut in it. Does that make it sound any badder?

Ich habe keine ahnung.

It definitely looks more threatening.

Now I assume that's just water that they're dumping him in.

Or so I thought until I saw that sound effect.


I don't know how dense water is over in Germany, but I can only assume it's just as viscous as it is here.

SPLATSCH I could handle, but PLATSCH? Who knows what he's getting dumped in.

This, I think, is my favorite of the lot.

Now I've never socked anyone in the jaw, so I can't speak from experience, but I've seen enough movies and read enough Jonah Hex books to know that ZACK is not necessarily the sound you'd hear.

I like to think that maybe the victim's name is Zack, and this punch just happened to have his name written all over it.

Who would've thought that the sound effects would end up getting lost in translation, but there you go.

Now on to something that needs no translation, as it's time to pick another random book to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is The Avengers #269 from July 1986, published by Marvel Comics!

Wow, has it really been over six months since we've reviewed an Avengers book around here? I guess so, but this pick more than makes up for us having to wait so long.

When I saw this cover pop up on the Randomizer, I instantly felt like I was a kid again. I remember standing at the racks of The Paperback Exchange, pulling this issue off of the racks. While that was twentyfour years ago, it seems like just yesterday.

The Roger Stern/John Buscema/Tom Palmer era of The Avengers will go down in history as one of my all-time favorite comic book runs. I'm sure it has everything to do with it being the first title I collected, but that's beside the point. This here, is as good as comics get...or at least it is in my mind's eye.

Come back in a day or two for the review and we'll see if it lives up to the hype.

It's got Kang in it, so has to be good!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sabretooth #4

TITLE: Sabretooth #4

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER DATE: December 1993


22 pages



He's never really been one of my favorite X-Villains. In fact, I can honestly say that I could live a happy life and never read another book he's in. To me, there's nothing too terribly interesting about an antagonist who has the same power set as our hero, just more so and meaner to boot.

I'm actually somewhat surprised that I still have this mini-series in my collection. A couple of years ago I purged a bunch of miscellaneous X-related books from the 90's on ebay. I figured this would've been one of the first to go, but I guess since it didn't start with an "X", it escaped the initial offerings. Unfortunately for it however, I'm about to start wave two of the ebay purge, and now that I know it exists, it's days are numbered.

Unless of course, this re-read totally blows me away. I can't say that I'm holding my breath on that score, but we'll see.

Sins of the Fathers!
  • Writer: Larry Hama
  • Artist: Mark Texeira
  • Backgrounds: Steve Biasi
  • Colorist: Steve Buccellato
  • Editor: Bob Harras
  • Letterer: Richard Starkings
  • Chief: Tom DeFalco
The issue opens up with Sabretooth and Birdy, his female traveling companion with a rather garish taste in firearms, on a life-or-death mission. In a prescient move, they commandeer a bus a good six months before Keanu Reeves did it on the big screen. It would appear that Sabretooth has some sort of bomb implanted in his chest and he has a grand total of fifteen minutes to get it deactivated before it goes off.

We're only one page in so far, so there's still plenty of time to throw in more summer action movie tropes. Although if Sabretooth says "I'm getting too old for this shit", I'm outta here.

The key to getting the bomb deactivated lies in the high rise building of the Mammon Fiduciary Trust Tower, which just so happens to have a conclave of ninja waiting in the lobby for them. And what better way to take on a horde of ninja than by driving a bus right through them.

Needless to say, all of the commotion in the lobby alerts the bankers and executives upstairs that Sabretooth has arrived.

Fortunately for the shareholders of Mammon Fiduciary Trust, these are not your ordinary bank employees.

After barricading the doors and stairwells, they wait for Sabretooth to make his way to the upper floors. There, the leader of this operation, who calls himself Tribune, has donned an armored battle suit with which he plans to use to kill Sabretooth himself.

Sabretooth takes a shortcut up the side of the building, bypassing all of the overly armed bankers waiting for him, and takes the fight directly to Tribune.

It turns out that he was the one who had hired Sabretooth to kill Mystique earlier in the series. Sabretooth ended up letting her walk, and now the other part of Tribune's plan is about to come unraveled as Sabretooth has just survived a point blank shot to the chest from his massively oversized 90's gun.

Seconds later, it's Tribune who's on the verge of death as Sabretooth hoists him up and throws him out the window to his apparent death.

With that taken care of, Sabretooth only has minutes left before the bomb in his chest goes off. Luckily for him, the surgeon who implanted the bomb in the first place was with the Tribune when Sabretooth found him. He pulls him out from under the table he was cowering under and forces him to operate, using Sabretooth's own claws as scalpels. The make-shift operation is a success, and in a scene that would make Rambo proud, he sews himself up with some safety pins.

Now try not to be too surprised, but while the rather primative surgery was going on, Tribune was climbing his way back up the side of the building, having escaped death after being tossed from the skyscraper. He reaches the top floor to see Sabretooth with his back to him. Without hesitation, he empties the clip from his gun. Unfortunately for him, Sabretooth knew he was there and swings the doctor around to use as a human shield to take the brunt of the attack.

With Tribune defeated once again, Sabretooth demands answers as to why he went through such trouble to have Mystique and himself killed. Tribune refuses to answer, but lucky for Sabretooth, his female companion just so happens to be a telepath.

One mental whammy later, and Sabretooth is wandering around the inside of Tribune's head. What he finds there is unexpected to say the least, as it turns out that Tribune's mother is Mystique and his father is none other than Sabretooth himself!

I'm sure you can imagine that the unconditional love between a father and son kicks in right about now, and Sabretooth and Tribune tearfully bond over all of the years that they missed being together.

Or, and this is the more likely scenario, Tribune reaches out and stabs Birdy to death as Sabretooth is threatening to kill him. So why did Tribune kill Birdy instead of trying to get Sabretooth?

It turns out that Birdy was using her mental powers to curtail the bad memories and urges of Sabretooth to make him more docile. Now that she's gone, Tribune has condemned Sabretooth to a more feral existence.

Sensing that maybe his boy has his sense of sadistic ruthlessness after all, he lets him live. As he turns his back on him once again, he warns his son that he better watch it, for he's going to be keeping an eye on him.


We'll start with the positive first.

I have to admit, that by the end of the 90's I was pretty much done with Mark Texeira's style. I was a big fan when he was on Ghost Rider and Wolverine, but as my interest in those titles started to drift, so did my enjoyment of Texeira's work...or so I thought.

It turns out that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, as I really enjoyed the artwork on this issue. I instantly remembered the style that is so singularly recognizable as Texeira's, but there was also more to it than I initially remembered. Where it was big and exaggerated, it was also highly detailed and perfectly paced. I'd forgotten just what a good storyteller he is.

So I enjoyed looking at this book quite a bit, I just wish I cared more for the character, for at the end of the issue there was really nothing there for me to attach any interest to.

We find out that he had a kid with Mystique (she sure got around, and had a lot of babies too) and his son is psycho and now he's more psycho than he has been in a while and it's all just rather psycho and all just rather too much. I didn't find that I cared for any of these characters, so the struggle and drama just fell a little flat. Larry Hama ended up stringing together an action thriller that hit all of the right necessities, I just couldn't bother myself to generate enough interest in the Sabretooth family tree to enjoy it all.

Ah well, they can't all be winners.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Soapboxes, Superman, and Sabretooth

So before we get to picking the next random book to review, please allow me and my soapbox a moment of your time.

DC has recently made the announcement that the new writer of Action Comics, Marc Guggenheim, is to be replaced by Paul Cornell before his first issue ever sees print. Now I have no dog in this fight, as I have had very limited exposure to each creator as they both found themselves writing Marvel projects that I had very little interest in.

Guggenheim got handed the unenviable task of ending the horribly misguided Flash: The Fastest Man Alive series, and did it well. Likewise, I've heard nothing but good things about Paul Cornell's stints on Captain Britain and MI-13 and Wisdom. So yeah, both of these creators I welcomed on board Action Comics and look (or looked) forward to reading their stories.

But all of this hubbub leads me to an observation about a huge problem with Action Comics over the past six years.


I've said it before (and I'll probably say it again, so I apologize in advance) that I'm a big Superman fan. I started reading during the death of Superman era, and one of the hooks that brought me in was the fact that I got a Superman book every week. The stories didn't always intertwine, but there was a certain level of consistency with the creators on those books that made me a lifelong fan. Writers and artists stayed on these books for years at a time, which allowed plots to mature and grow in an organic fashion.

So fast forward fifteen years, and my oh my, how things have changed. Here's a graph that I put together that helps demonstrate my point.

As you can see, I listed the regular writers on Action Comics from a point in time right after Action Comics Weekly ended in 1989, to the present. By my figuring, there have been eight regular writers in that time.

Take a look at the first four, who wrote the title from 1989 to 2004. The average run for those writers was forty issues! That's three solid years of month-in and month-out storytelling. To further press my point, in those 170 issues there was only 18 fill-in issues!

Now to contrast, let's look at the last six years. Once again, we have four regular writers. So what was the average number of issues in their runs?

Fourteen. Fourteen measly issues. Barely a years worth of issues.

To make matters worse, there have been more fill-in issues during this time than all of the other writers but one were able to produce. Hats off to Geoff Johns for doing two years worth of stories, it's just a shame that it took him over three years to do it.

All of this is symptomatic to what the main problem with the Superman titles, and Action Comics in particular, have had in the recent past. They've just been all over the place in consistency and tone.

With the announcement that J. Michael Straczynski was taking over Superman, I allowed myself to get optimistic about the direction of the Super-titles. Not that I'm the world's biggest JMS fan, but he comes to each of his projects with a long-term strategy in mind, so that was encouraging.

But now, right out of the gate...scratch that...before the horses are even led up to the gate, we get another writer shuffle.


So as excited as I am about getting to experience some of Paul Cornell's writing, I'm going to be holding my breath for the first six months or so waiting to see if he's able to stick it out. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the last six years, his prospects look less than sunny.

I do wish him the best of luck, however.

Now, let's get on to picking the next random book to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Sabretooth #4 from December 1993, published by Marvel Comics!

Yea, it's of my least favorite X-villains. This series was from the 90's, and while I can't quite remember it that clearly, I think it was against the law to leave the comic book store without at least one copy of every X-book.

Yeah, that must've been it.

This is also the second pick in as many weeks that features a book written by Larry Hama. The last one was a pleasant surprise, so maybe Larry Hama will surprise me on this one too. I honestly remember nothing about this book, so anything is possible.

See you in a day or two for the review.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sojourn #8

TITLE: Sojourn #8

PUBLISHER: CrossGen Comics

COVER DATE: March 2002


22 pages


When the initial offering of CrossGen titles came out, I took a pass. The overarching mythology of the sigil ended up turning me off, rather than drawing me in. I just didn't feel like either a) having the sigil shoe-horned in to a title that otherwise didn't need it, or b) reading a bunch of stories with too much editorial control to make sure they all line up to the company fiat.

That didn't stop me from hearing good things that first year, however. So when they announced a second round of titles that were less central to the sigil mythology, I jumped all over it. It didn't hurt that one of the new titles would feature work by Greg Land, who I had enjoyed on Birds of Prey previously. Combine that with a Tolkien-esque world and a quest for mystic artifacts and I was in.

Say what you will about CrossGen as a company (and you can say a lot), but this series was an obvious highlight. Yeah, it was probably a little too Lord of the Rings for it's own good, but it definitely mined a niche that was going unfilled at the time.

You can also say what you will about Greg Land (and you can also say a lot), but this series was before he went balls-out with the lightbox and lingerie catalogs. After CrossGen went bankrupt and this title got cancelled mid storyline, Land ended up at Marvel. It's there that the style of his work really took a turn for the worse, so Sojourn remains the last title were I actively sought out Land's work.

So back to the issue at hand with our heroine Arwyn, and we're still early on in her quest for the fragments of the legendary arrow with which she will bring peace to Middelyn. From the cover, it looks like we're in for a bit of a barfight, so let's get to it...

No title given
  • Writer: Ron Marz
  • Penciler: Greg Land
  • Inkers: Drew Geraci, John Dell, Rick Magyar
  • Colorist: Caesar Rodriguez
  • Letterer: Troy Peteri
Well, the cover is no lie as the issue opens up in the middle of a barfight. Arwyn was apparently tossed through a window in the previous issue, so everything's up to her companion Gareth to sort things out. Needless to say, he's been in a brawl or two before.

They've come to this particular tavern to ask the locals about a rumored dragon who's supposed to be in possession of one of the arrow fragments. They're less than forthcoming, obviously, and just when things are looking their worse for Gareth, Arwyn makes a timely re-entrance.

Firing an arrow from her enchanted bow, she manages to distract the brawlers enough for her and Gareth to make good their escape. Leaving the bar with them is a female patron who was beginning to tell them what she knew of the dragon when the fight broke out last issue.

It's not until after they've put some distance between themselves and the bar that they stop for the night. While dining on whatever local critter Gareth caught, now turning on the barbecue spit, they trade stories about how each of them got to where we are now.

Here's the Reader's Digest version, for everyone keeping score at home.

Arwyn's on a mission to slay Mordath, the big bad in Middelyn, who is responsible for the death of her husband and child. He has now been resurrected and is the sigil-bearer of this title. While attempting to kill him in his castle, she met Gareth. Together, they manage to escape with their lives, but have now become marked for death by Mordath and are continually hunted by his trolls as they search for the legendary arrow that was used to slay him once already, and is rumored to be the only thing that will slay him again.

Their newfound friend, on the other hand, tells them of the legends of the local dragon and where the lair is rumored to be at. The fact that she doesn't really reveal anything personal, combined with obvious distrust that Arwyn's dog has for her, leads one to believe that she is not entirely human trustworthy.

Still, the quest will not be denied, so it's under her guidance in the morning to find the dragon's lair. She leads them to a place called Fayern Gorge and bids them good luck in rappelling down the cliff face, as she has no intention of heading into a dragon's lair.

Once they got to the bottom, it doesn't take long for Gareth to find a gem or two, which makes him think that there may actually be something to this dragon legend. Arwyn is suitably unimpressed, for she has found something a little bit bigger.

They begin to scour the treasure for the arrow fragment, as Gareth hypothesizes that there really is no dragon. It's all probably just a story cooked up by local highwaymen to scare people away from their treasure horde and stolen loot.

Unfortunately for him, that's just wishful thinking.

The dragon didn't get a treasure horde this sizable by being a dummy, and it strikes out at Arwyn to take her, and her enchanted bow, out of the action first.

So we close out this issue that same way it started, with Gareth in way over his head in a battle that he is unlikely to win by himself.


Two things struck me reading this issue that differed from my memories of it.

The first one is the obvious 500 lb. gorilla in the room, Greg Land. Maybe it's just because I'm so jaded to everything that's come to light about his working process, but this issue looked alot stiffer than I remember. I couldn't help but see underwear models throughout the whole issue everytime Arwyn had more than one dialogue balloon to deliver.

Still, there were flashes of greatness, and that's what frustrates me about his work. Take the last half of this book for example. Unless he traced the dragon, which I suppose is entirely possible, this is some of the best stuff I've seen from him. The weakest parts was the figurework, where to put it politely, there was obvious inspiration. Oh well, all art is subjective, so if it works for him and his fans, more power to him.

The other thing about this issue that differs from my memory is how light the drama and tension felt. This was still good, but seemed a little more bland than I remember. It definitely felt Tolkein-like, which I didn't remember feeling this strongly the first time around. Although after Peter Jackson's insanely detailed LOTR films, the bar is admittedly set pretty damn high.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) CrossGen Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...
  • Ron Marz's blog, or follow him on twitter
  • A Comic Bloc forum thread about Sojourn. Yeah, it's a couple of years old, but features participation from Ron Marz himself.
  • Kirk, over at The Weekly Crisis, has a nice post up about the history of the CrossGen line of titles

Monday, April 12, 2010

Odds and sods and Sojourn

It's been a while since we've been through the odds and sods from the last week or so, so lets see what's been bubbling under the surface of comic book fandom.
  • I saw this headline over at The Source...
    ...and for a split second I thought they were getting Frank Quitely to go back and redraw issues #4-6 himself. A boy can dream, eh?

  • Those Colgate ads running through the recent DC books are still obnoxiously interruptive, but at least they're picking kissing scenes that are more iconic than Justice League Extreme characters and emotionally scarred teenagers.

  • I want to create my own podcast, just so I can pick cool theme music for every review I do!

    If I did, this would probably be my first pick.

Us bloggers lead such a quiet existence.

  • I'm not sure I understand the logic on this one.

    So you have a high profile six issue mini-series coming out with six different artists involved. Grant Morrison's name on the ad...that's a no-brainer. I can also see why you'd want to highlight Andy Kubert on covers as well.

    But why, when you have a different artist handling each issue, do you only put five of their names on the advertisement?

    Who exactly, did Yanik Paquette piss off at DC?

Now that I got all of that off of my chest, let's get to picking the next random book to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Sojourn #8 from March 2002, published by CrossGen Comics!

Welcome back to the Random Longbox, CrossGen! We haven't taken a look at one of their books since last June. In fact, the review we did of Ruse was only the fourth book we pulled for review on this blog.

I'm looking forward to this one, as I have fond memories of this title. Out of all of the CrossGen titles that got unceremoniously cancelled, this is the one that I wish had found a second life with a different publisher. We ended up getting 35 issues, but really only scratched the surface in the world that Ron Marz and Greg Land had created.

See you in a day or two for the review.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday Synchronicity #4

The synchronous Saturdays are back, now with extra added vitamins, minerals, and spoiler warnings! So join me, if you will, and lets take a look at some random coincidences as well as history repeating itself with some of this week's new releases.

  • It looks like Kandor is having more problems with Brainiac again, over in Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #2. For all the issues with Brainiac coveting their city that they've had, there was actually another place that had their own "aliens want to take our city" problems in Krypton's ancient past. Read all about it over here.

  • Over in Batman & Robin #11, it would appear that Deathstroke is in control of Damian's body. I remember a time not that long ago when he fought on the side of the angels, granted he didn't have a shiny halo, but at least he wasn't on the side of the demon's head.

  • So Jonathan Hickman gives us a peek into the untold stories of Marvel's history over in S.H.I.E.L.D. #1, much like John Byrne once did with the secret history of the Human Torch and the Vision.
That's it for this weekend. Make sure you come back next week for some more random shenanigans!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Daredevil #193

TITLE: Daredevil #193


COVER DATE: April 1983


22 pages


Well if you read yesterday's post, you'll remember that this book is from a new collection that I'm integrating into my longboxes. That makes the answer to the "what do I remember" question mercifully short.

It also seems like I've been talking about Daredevil non-stop for the last week, but I did manage to do the barest minimum of research about the history of this issue to get me prepared a little.

As I mentioned earlier, this issue is written by Larry Hama. It's the only issue he ever wrote, and was a fill-in between the end of the Frank Miller era and the beginning of Denny O'Neil's run. On a sidenote...I had no idea that Denny O'Neil ever wrote hornhead. I may have to crack one of those open for pleasure, instead of waiting for the Randomizer to pick one at it's leisure.

Klaus Janson is still on pencils, which gives the title a seamless transition art-wise between regular writers. You don't see too many instances of Janson pencilling these days, as he's keeping busy inking for John Romita Jr. it seems, although maybe I'm just not looking that hard. Either way, it'll be a treat to see him tell the whole story on both pencils and inks.

Bitsy's Revenge
  • Writer: Larry Hama
  • Artist: Klaus Janson
  • Letterer: Joe Rosen
  • Editor: Denny O'Neil
  • Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
We catch up to Daredevil as he's making his 4am rounds around the city. One of his regular spots is the Armory, as they apparently make the best coffee around this time of night.

It's mighty trusting of the Armory, of all places, to leave a section of the roof wide open at 4am for Daredevil to waltz through. I mean, if a blind super-hero can find it...

All is not well, however, as the regular night watchman, Sarge, lies in a pool of his own blood on the floor. Daredevil rushes down to help, but they both know it's too late.

With his last breath, Sarge tells DD about what happened. A group of criminals dressed as soldiers broke in and took the latest in anti-tank missile technology. To make matters worse, they also took his .45, "Bitsy", which was handed down from his father after WWI. He stays with Sarge until he passes, and then heads outside to catch up with the crooks.

While Daredevil was with Sarge, the criminals were loading up the crates of missiles onto their getaway truck. It's not the tightest knit group of crooks around, as the one that shot Sarge and took his pistol deserts the rest of the gang and takes off with stolen crates.

Unfortunately for them, Daredevil finds them and is not in a very forgiving mood. He does have the presence of mind to leave one conscious enough to get some answers about who they're working for and why.

It turns out the leader with the lead foot and questionable loyalty to his men is a gent by the name of Carmine Pesca. He plans to rob a cruise ship that is supposed to be carrying five million dollars worth of diamonds, and the stolen missiles are part of his plan.

Off to the mid-Atlantic it is then...

Wait a minute...I thought Matt Murdock was supposed to be all gloomy, dark and depressed? What's he doing playing the dapper playboy on an ocean liner?

Using his clever disguise, he plays the part of tourist while keeping an eye on Carmine. During his stakeout, he befriends a female associate of Carmine who also just happens to be the ship magician. After some playful small talk, she invites him to attend tonight's show.

After the evening's festivities, Matt decides to do some patrols as Daredevil to better keep an eye on Carmine. Fortunately, he doesn't have to wait long to figure out what Carmine was up to with the missiles as one of them comes heading straight for the radar tower that Daredevil is perched on.

The damaged radar is doubly dangerous, as the ship now has no radio communication and the fact that it's pointing toward the ship means that DD's heightened senses are overloaded, leaving him essentially blind.

While Daredevil struggles to shut down the damaged radar, a pirate submarine surfaces and demands that the ship's captain empty out his safe of all the diamonds or they will blow up the cruise liner. With the fate of the passengers in his hands, the captain gives in to the pirates demands.

While all of that is going on, Carmine continues to play it cool on the deck of the ship, watching his plan go off without a hitch. Above him, Daredevil disconnects the radar dish and is one again back in action.

Daredevil is now in no mood to fool around and he confronts Carmine, but doesn't get the story he's expecting to hear. It turns out that Carmine is just an actor hired by the magician to be an audience plant. She hired him purposefully because they had similar body structures and she could use make-up to disguise herself as him for part of the show.

Piecing it together, DD realizes that it was the magician who robbed the armory disguised as Carmine. Using the tricks of her trade, she projects the image of the submarine to con the ship into giving up the diamonds.

With the diamonds in hand, she boasts about pulling the perfect crime. Unfortunately, Daredevil has something to say about that.

Ordering her two assistants to attack, she beats a hasty retreat. It doesn't take long, however, for Daredevil to take out both Ali and Akbar.

He catches up to the magician, just as she pulls out Sarge's old .45 and points it at Daredevil. He tries to tell her that the gun hasn't worked in ages, but she ain't buying it.

Oopsie...I guess you should have listened to Daredevil after all, but then where would the poetic justice have come from then?

As a eulogy of sorts, we get the rest of Sarge's story. It turns out that he was a supply clerk in 'Nam, and never fired his gun in combat. One day, his base was overrun and during a grenade attack a piece of shrapnel that should have killed Sarge instead lodged itself in the barrel of his gun.

The gun was never fired after that, and never took another's life, until now.


I love one-shot stories.

Good ones tell a captivating story using the most of the twentysome pages provided to get in and get out, hopefully entertaining us along the way.

Bad ones tend to overly rely on coincidences and dei ex machina to bring the story together on the last page.

Obviously I'd prefer to read a good one, but even a bad one can be enjoyed with the same pleasure reserved for b-movies. Luckily for us, we got a pretty decent one with this story.

Larry Hama introduces all of the main players, and gives us everything we need to solve the crime along with Daredevil. It was a little hokey in a spot or two, but honestly, what comic from the early 80's isn't. In this issue, the good definitely outweigh the bad.

The art by Klaus Janson was appropriately gritty and rough, like all good Daredevil books are supposed to be. The most striking thing about the issue was the regular use of the long flat panel, stacked six or seven high, that was used throughout the issue. It gave the fight scenes a fluid and kinetic widescreen feel that made the issue a pleasure to read.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...
  • See the original pen and ink sketch of the cover here
  • So what exactly was Daredevil up to in the preceding 192 issues? Well Robert at The Matt Murdock Chronicles is glad you asked.