Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Up next...Giant-Size Marvel Triple Action #2

So remember a month or so back, when I had mentioned that there would be some cosmetic changes to the blog coming over the course of the summer?

Well today was supposed to be one of those days, but then DC went and cracked the internet in half with their revelation of a new costume for Wonder Woman. Normally, I'd just shrug and move on, after all, I like to think that the internet is big enough for both the Random Longbox and DC's The Source.

You see, I'm not that good at the old html upgrades so I was going to dress up the blog by instituting a new dress code for me for when I blog. Before this morning's news hit, the new uniform was to be a gold bustier and blue and white bikini knickers. It would've been perfect, as a little cross promotion with Wonder Woman's big renumbering would've added some nice synergy.

Now I'm just going to look foolish sitting around in my blue and white underwear while Wonder Woman is out showing off her stylish new duds.

I did get a chance to read Straczynski's new take on WW while the internet was stitching itself back together, and you know what? I liked it. I'm on board to see where he takes things, and as much as I liked Simone's run, a little shake-up is good for the soul.

I guess that leaves us with just one more bit of business today, and that's to pick a new random book for me to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Giant-Size Marvel Triple Action #2 from July 1975, published by Marvel Comics!

The giant, cosmic balancing wheel is working overtime this month, as we just spent the latter half of this month reading and reviewing a monster sized Superman book. Couple that with the fact that we didn't have a single Marvel book pop up all month, and their time was due.

So leave it to the Randomizer to pick another giant-sized book to compensate. I'm not even sure what is in this book, as it's a recent acquisition from the end of last year with the collection that my brother passed on to me. A quick peek between the covers, and it looks like we have a book filled with Silver Age reprints of The Avengers, Daredevil, and Doctor Strange. As an added bonus, they're all written by Stan Lee!

So buckle up, true believers, as we're going to have three in a row from the master of Marvel's monumental machinations of merry myth-making. See you in a day or two for the review.

Monday, June 28, 2010


All right, we're in the homestretch with the 80 pg. beast of an issue that is Action Comics #600. If you missed the previous installments, check here and here.

Closing things out is a tale that seems a little out of place, as I don't instantly think Man-Bat when I think of classic Superman villains that deserve to be highlighted in an anniversary issue. Have no fear, however, as our investment in time and bandwidth is going to be rewarded as Mike Mignola handles the art for the last eight pages. If you're going to have a Man-Bat story, you could do a heckuva lot worse than have the master of mood, the Svengali of shadows, the general of gothic, handling the pencils.

Let's check it out.

The Dark Where Madness Lies
  • Written by John Byrne
  • Drawn by Mike Mignola
  • Lettered by Bill Oakley
  • Colored by Petra Scotese
Speaking of Mike Mignola, he wastes no time in giving us a beautiful image of Man-Bat soaring high in the nighttime sky.

He has come to the wilderness to seek solace amongst the shrill songs of his brethren. Down below, he finds the perfect cave and soars in only to be confused by the absence of bats that would normally make the cave a bustling community. It doesn't take him long to find out exactly what has spooked his bat brothers.'s the same cave that Superman has decided to ride out his bout of kryponite poisoning in, and unfortunately he's in no mood to make new friends. In fact, the more he tries to soothe the crazed Kryptonian, the worse it gets and the worse his delusions become.

In his rage, Superman knocks Man-Bat around the cave like a pinata. Whatever he does to try to calm Superman, it only works to make him more enraged. It's only when Superman has Man-Bat facing the sharp end of a stalactite that he realizes he's been out of control. Even enraged, Superman will not kill.

In control of his faculties once more, Superman explains that its the kryptonite rays from his exploded planet that is doing this to him. The rays were too strong for the lead that was in the caves to block out. Another shock wave could kill him. Luckily for him, he has an idea of someone who could help. Unfortunately, he's still too weak to seek him out. Man-Bat takes it upon himself to find the one person who can help the Man of Steel.

So who is it?

He only shows up in shadows here, but those wings are a dead giveaway.


Anniversary jam issues are usually a mixed bag. Chances are, there's something in there that's good, and hopefully you end with more winners than losers to make the extra price involved worth it.

This time around, we go three winners and two meh's. I think I'll call that a win and slide this book back in it's bag and backer, and head back to the longboxes for another pick.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Action Comics - Lightning Round Style

We started reading all 80 pages of the 50th Anniversary Issue celebrating Superman's first appearance in Action Comics earlier, but now let's finish this big issue out lightning round style.

The first story dealt with Superman teaming up with Wonder Woman to take down Darkseid, while the rest of the stories have a decidedly less cosmic flavor to them. They also help to round out Superman's supporting cast with stories focusing on Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Lex Luthor. Oh, and Man-Bat.

Man-Bat? I guess nothing screams "600 issues of Superman in Action Comics" like a Man-Bat story. That's the last one up however, so in the meantime let's start it up with Lois Lane.

no title given
  • Plot: John Byrne
  • Script: Roger Stern
  • Pencils: Kurt Schaffenberger
  • Inks: Jerry Ordway
  • Letters: Bill Oakley
  • Colors: Petra Scotese
While investigating a story on an escaped mob boss returning to Metropolis, Lois gets in over her head. She relies on a self-defense technique taught to her by whom...
  • Her father, General Sam Lane
  • A Las Vegas chorus girl
  • Superman himself
It's best not to go with the obvious on this one, as the correct answer is the Las Vegas chorus-line girl.

No worries though, as her chorus girl kick does the trick and the mobster is soon back in police custody as Lois heads back to the Daily Planet to file her story. When she arrives, she's in for a shocker as the front page has already been taken by the love story of the century...Superman and Wonder Woman!

It seems a paper in Boston has got quite the scoop about their budding relationship, leaving the Daily Planet with a little bit of egg on it's face by being out-scooped in its own hometown. Lois takes it hard, but Clark assures her that the original story is not based on fact.

So what does our hard-nosed reporter due next?
  • Wallows in self-pity while she walks home
  • Heads out to get the real story about this "Super-Romance Of The Century"
  • She throws herself out of the window of the Daily Planet in a bid to have Superman rescue her so she can confront him
Hopefully you're starting to sense a pattern here, as the answer is not the obvious one.

As she walks back to her apartment, she takes the long way home and bemoans her misfortune of being just a plain human. How is she supposed to win Superman's heart when she's up against Wonder Woman?

When she finally gets to her apartment, Lois is soon surprised by a knock on the door. Who comes to see her?
  • Superman, holding a dozen roses, who then escorts her to the Fortress Of Solitude on an official date
  • Clark Kent, who soon ditches her when an emergency arises and Superman is needed
  • Lex Luthor, looking for a little rebound action booty-call
Alas, for poor Lois it was Clark. He had the best of intentions, arriving with a friendly shoulder for Lois to cry on, but when Superman is needed, sacrifices must be made.

Games People Play
  • Story: John Byrne
  • Pencils: Dick Giordano
  • Inks: John Beatty
  • Coloring: Tom Ziuko
  • Lettering: Albert DeGuzman
It's another average day for Lex Luthor, power-broker of Metropolis and thorn in Superman's side. Who does he summon to his office to confront about their treatment of him?
  • Jimmy Olsen, about his camera constantly flashing in his face
  • Lois Lane, about her constant investigative reporting into his business activities
  • Maggie Sawyer, about the constant trail that the S.C.U. have on Luthor and his people

Yeah, it would appear that the S.C.U. are getting too good at their job and are getting a little too close for Lex's liking.

Luckily for Lex, Maggie has a little secret that is ripe for the blackmailing. What is it?
  • She's secretly the Alpha Centurion
  • She's a lesbian
  • She likes to smoke a little something else in her cigarette holder every once in a while
This was the late 80's, and unfortunately for Captain Sawyer, being a woman in her position of power could easily have been brought low if it became common knowledge that she was in fact a lesbian.

Lex calls in his secretary to add an exclamation point to his accusations, so to speak, but Maggie ain't taking the bait. At the very least, it gives Dick Giordano a chance to give us a little eye candy.

Maggie didn't get to where she was by accident however, and she calls his bluff and tells Luthor to go ahead and expose her secret as she won't be intimidated by anyone. Luthor, not used to being talked back to, does something out of frustration that ends up putting him in the Lex Corp infirmary. What was it?
  • He kicks his desk, which was previously lined with lead to prevent Superman's prying eyes
  • He shoves Maggie and her pointy cigarette holder hits him in the eye
  • He bangs his fist on this desk, exposing the fact that the kryptonite ring he wears has been poisoning him

Yes, this is the issue where we find out that the ring the Lex wore to keep Superman at bay would soon go on to cause him all sorts of problems.

One of the biggest problems would be for us, the readers, as it would usher in the introduction of the long-haired, hipster Lex of the early 90's.

A Friend In Need
  • Plot: John Byrne
  • Script: Roger Stern
  • Pencils: Curt Swan
  • Inks: Murphy Anderson
  • Letters: Albert DeGuzman
  • Colors: Tom Ziuko
While investigating a story, Jimmy Olsen uses his signal watch to alert Superman of what impending disaster.
  • A toxic waste spill
  • A chemical fire
  • A broken down truck
A trick question, as the answer is all of the above.

All of this is kids play for Superman though, and he soon has everything under control. Instead of basking in the glory of another job well done, Superman collapses and can barely speak long enough to ask for Jimmy's help.

Suspecting some sort of kryptonite poisoning, what does Jimmy do?
  • Uses a forklift truck to lift Superman and drive him to some underground caves
  • Uses a crane to lift Superman to the local lead smelting plant to encase him in lead
  • Raids the general store for all of the Reynolds Wrap, and wraps Superman in it
Yes, the fast thinking Jimmy borrows a fork-lift truck from a local warehouse to drive Superman underground.

Luckily for Superman, the local caverns have a high lead ratio and Superman hopes that that will be enough to shield him from the kryptonite poisoning.

Now those of you up on your Superman knowledge know that at this time there was very little kryptonite around. So what's with the sudden onset of kryptonite poisoning?
  • The truck that caught fire was filled with synthetic kryptonite, of which Superman caught a lungful of
  • Unbeknown to Superman, Metallo was driving the tanker that caught fire
  • It was radiation from the explosion of Kryptonite that finally reached the earth after traveling at the speed of light all these years
It's all about the science, as Superman has calculated that with thee distance between Krytpon and Earth, it would be just about now that the radiation would start to hit us. You think that if he would've known about it, that he would've been a little better prepared.

Oh well, whatever doesn't kill us just makes us stronger, right Superman?

Uh oh, it looks like Superman is still feeling a little under the weather.

So just who does Jimmy go to for help now? You'll just have to tune in next time to find out.

That's right, there's still one more story to go, but its late and I'm going to bed. Come back soon for "The Dark Where Madness Lies".

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Friday, June 25, 2010

And the winner is...

So now that you all have had plenty of time to think it over, it's time to reveal the answer to the latest installment of What Did I See While I Was Out On The Road The Other Day. Unfortunately, it's been a while since I posed the question, so let's review.

What Super Hero or Villain Headquarters Did I See While I Was Out On The Road The Other Day?
  • The Ultimates' Triskelion
  • The Joker's Ha-Ha-Hacienda
  • The Legion of Doom's Hall of Doom
  • Green Arrow's Arrowcave
Before I reveal the answer, let's take a look at what the internet fandom at large thought. When all of the votes were tallied, two-thirds of the respondents went with the Arrowcave, while the other third went with the Hall of Doom.

So what was it? Take a look below...

That's right, it was the Legion of Doom's Hall of Doom!

It does look a little different though, since they moved it out of the swamp and into the suburbs of Detroit.

At least I'm pretty sure that's what it was, as I was driving by pretty fast, but it's not like it could be a church or something like that.

And here's a bonus surprise for you that I uncovered while surfing for a picture of the Hall of Doom in all of its swampy goodness.

Is that the Hall of Justice? In Elkhart, Indiana?

Close enough.

In fact, it's close enough that it falls within my sales territory for my day job. Rest assured that we'll have an update from the field the next time I have business in northern Indiana.

If you can't wait for me, find out more about Allen Stewart and his Hall of Heroes here and here.

As for me, I have to get back to finishing my review of Action Comics #600. Hopefully I'll be back with that before July rolls around.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


So just because I'm stuck at a trade show in Fort Wayne, Indiana for a couple of days doesn't mean that you should be denied your random blogging entertainment.

I'm therefore going to take the liberty of throwing up a filler post that's filled with filler pin-ups from Action Comics #600, which we're in the midst of reviewing.

First one up is courtesy of Linda Medley and Art Adams. I don't know that I'm familiar with Linda Medley at all, but you can definitely see the Adams influence in the inks.

Should we be worried that Batman looks creepier than The Creeper? You might wanna dial the happines back a notch, Bruce.

Showing his reverence for Superman, Jon Bogdanove gives us a nice looking pin-up three years before he would help launch the fourth ongoing Superman title.

I think that one is my favorite of the bunch.

I'm about to commit a bit of heresy here, but I'm just not a fan of Kevin Maguire's work.

People always rave about his ability to portray expressions and emotions in his faces, but they just strike me as overly posed.

Up next is a creator that, for me, is associated with just one character. Mike Zeck has done a ton of work over the years, but his Punisher mini-series captured the zeitgeist when it came out and really left an impression.

His Superman ain't nothing to sneeze at either, but even this shot instantly reminds me of that first Punisher cover.

Finally, we to get a creator who has never put in much time with Superman...Walter Simonson.

That's some good stuff, right there, and it makes me sad that we never got any sort of extended run on a Superman title from him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Action Comics #600

TITLE: Action Comics #600


COVER DATE: May 1988


70 pages


So this book is the official celebration of 50 years of Superman stories in Action Comics! Coincidentally enough, we have the landmark issue Superman #600 coming out this month as well. You gotta love the timing of the Randomizer when it comes to picking the books to review. The skeptics among you might actually think that this whole random thing is a gimmick. Fear not, true believer, as it's all on the up and up.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand, and we're in for a real treat. We'll look at the first story from this issue today, and included within we have three firsts here for the Random Longbox.

First, while we've reviewed books by John Byrne before, this is the first time we've looked at his Superman relaunch.

Second, this is the first time that we've been graced with the artwork of George Perez. He did do the cover to The Defenders #51 which we read sometime last year, but it was such an average looking cover that I initially didn't even realize it was drawn by Perez. Rest assured, we're gonna get the good stuff now.

Third, Wonder Woman finally makes an appearance on the blog.

And now that I think of it, we have a fourth first as well. Darkseid is the big baddie in this one, making this his first full (non-Tangent-ized) appearance at the RL.

With all of that said, let's not waste anymore time meandering around a preamble and lets just get to it.

Different Worlds
  • Story/Breakdowns: John Byrne
  • Finishes: George Perez
  • Letters: John Costanza
  • Colors: Tom Ziuko
  • Assistant Editor: Renee Witterstaetter
  • Editor: Mike Carlin
So we have Byrne and Perez teaming up for a story that features the two characters they were instrumental in relaunching post-Crisis, and they don't waste anytime throwing us into the middle of the to speak.

Easy there Superman! It's obvious to us at least, that the lady just isn't all that into you. Unfortunately this is a powered-down post-Crisis, and he apparently left his powers of super-perception back in the silver age.

Luckily for Supes, he finally realizes that maybe Wonder Woman is not quite into the kiss as he is. She explains that she has only been in man's world for a short time, and the feelings and emotions that accompany that come with much trepidation. She acknowledges that she has thought of Superman as something more than friend, but she is going to need some time, as this is their "first date" after all.

It's encouraging to know that even Superman gets shot down on occasion, as that proves there is hope for the rest of us mere mortals.

So they agree to take it slow and easy, when Superman suggests that they go to his place. I'm sure his intentions are entirely innocent, but that doesn't necessarily seem like slow and east too me.

While they're flying to Supes' place, Hermes appears and summons Wonder Woman to Olympus as he is in grave danger.

Sure he is! It's more like Wonder Woman called him off panel and said, "Hermes, you gotta help me out here. This Superman is a real horndog! You gotta appear in front of us and pretend that there's some sort of emergency or something. Athena lost her owl, Zeus stubbed his toe, anything! Just get me outta here!"

So Wonder Woman is summoned to Olympus, but Superman is not ready to let his date slip through his fingers, and he follows her through the wormhole.

I gotta say, no one draws Greek architecture and ruins like George Perez

On Olympus, Superman and Wonder Woman are now separated as each of them gets transported to a different area. Superman is lost in the ruins, as the "up is down, left is right" nature of the place has him at a disadvantage. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, finds Hermes as he explains who has done this to him...Darkseid!

Instead of being worried that Superman and Wonder Woman have mysteriously appeared on Olympus so shortly after he has conquered it, Darkseid sees only opportunity and goes about scheming a plan to capture them as well.

Seeing as how the two heroes are separated, he sends Amazing Grace and Kalibak out to find them, masked as Wonder Woman and Superman respectively. He will take advantage of their confusion to gain the upper hand with his disguised warriors.

Since the real Superman and Wonder Woman have just spent seven pages awkwardly explaining their feelings for each other, they are not so easily fooled by the dopplegangers. It matters little to Darkseid that the deception is uncovered so easily, for that was part of his plan. He has Amazing Grace and Kalibak lead the two heroes to the same spot, so when next they meet they will destroy each other, thinking that they are still being fooled!

And here's where John Byrne and George Perez really get to show off, as they give us three beautiful pages of silent fighting with a grinning Darkseid enjoying the show.

Unfortunately for Darkseid, the player just got played. Superman and Wonder Woman could tell that they were actually fighting each other and used the slobber-knocker as a ruse to search for Darkseid's command center without him catching on.

Breach it they do, but instead of taking the fisticuffs directly to him, they clue him in to something that he has overlooked...Olympus is empty. There are no other gods here, and all he has captured is an empty rock. Conveniently enough, a Parademon captain arrives to confirm their observations.

Olympus is empty.

Realizing that the only victory left is of the scorched earth variety, Darkseid and Desaad disappear into a boom tube as Darkseid activates explosives that he has planted throughout Olympus.

No worries though, as Olympus is eternal and will not be destroyed until the gods themselves wish it to be so.

Back on earth, Superman comes to the realization that the "real" gods just play too rough for him. He is, after all, just a boy from Kansas. The two heroes decide to just be friends from here on out.


There's really only one flaw with this issue, and that's the romantic tension between Superman and Wonder Woman. Maybe it's the fact that twenty years worth of stories with Lois and Clark married have colored my perceptions, but I don't ever remember there being a whole lot of sexual tension between Superman and Wonder Woman before.

I realize that it makes for a great vehicle with which to get Perez and Byrne together on the same story, but the fact that the whole romantic subplot gets introduced and resolved within thirty two pages just seems a little ham-handed to me.

Even with that, I still enjoyed the heck out of this issue as the real draw is seeing George Perez and John Byrne working together. These were two artists at the top of their game, telling stories with two of the most iconic heroes of all time.

With Byrne scripting and doing the breakdowns, it give the comic a fluidity that moves the story along at just the right pace. Add in George Perez, and his unparalled sense of detail and design on finishes, and you have a seriously beautiful story definitely worthy of Superman's golden anniversary.

Follow along here for the next set of stories in the celebration.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Survey says...Action Comics!

Longtime readers of this blog are aware that if there's two things I love in this world, it's Comic Books and Game Shows. So one of those is probably not true, but I do find that I have an unhealthy fascination with game shows from the 50's all the way up to the mid-80's.

I've never been able to sit through an entire Marx Brothers movie, but who knew that Groucho Marx was so damn funny?

Apparently a bunch of people did.

It just took me fifty-some years to stumble upon the reruns of You Bet Your Life.

So what's the greatest game show of all time, you ask?

Hands down, it has to be The Match Game. Another show where the ad-libbing and riffing with the contestants was the real entertainment, while the trivia and challenges were a mere afterthought.

It's just a shame that The Game Show Network doesn't show reruns of those old shows anymore, instead choosing to air endless televised coverage of Texas Hold 'Em. Yeah, it's a good game and all, but where's the witty banter with the undercurrent of sexual tension?

So what does this have to do with comic books and the Random Longbox? Not much, other than providing me with an appropriate lead-in for this blog post, as we dust off the set of our own little game show...What Did I See While I Was Out On The Road The Other Day?

For those unfamiliar with how this goes, here are the rules. During my travels for my day job, if I see something comic-book related I'll snap a picture. Before I post it however, I'll give you an opportunity to guess what it is. Pretty simple, right?

If you missed the two previous installments, you can test your skills against the rest of the internet fandom here and here.

With all of that out of the way, let's see what today's installment brings...

What Super Hero or Villain Headquarters Did I See While I Was Out On The Road The Other Day?
  • The Ultimates' Triskelion
  • The Joker's Ha-Ha-Hacienda
  • The Legion of Doom's Hall of Doom
  • Green Arrow's Arrowcave
Mull it over, and when you think you know the right answer, just look for the poll over to the top right and click away. If you want to make your individual voice heard, feel free to comment here and let me know how you voted.

UPDATE: Click over here for the answer.

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

...and that book is Action Comics #600 from May 1988, published by DC Comics!

Oh boy...It's the moment I've been dreading since I started this blog, as it's our first 80 Page Giant. It's a shame that this isn't one of the classic checkerboard ones from the 60's, but it's still eighty pages! I'm going to be blogging about this one for the rest of the month unless I chain myself to the laptop.

It could definitely be worse, as we could've had a book picked without a killer lineup of talent associated with it like we got with this one. Check this list out...
  • Superman & Wonder Woman vs. Darkseid by John Byrne and George Perez!
  • Superman vs. Man-Bat with art by Mike Mignola!
  • Lex Luthor up to no good, with the late Dick Giordano on pencils!
  • Plus we get the return of two great Superman artists from the past with Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger doing Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane stories!
Oh, the burdens I must bear to bring y'all some decent internet entertainment.

I just like to think that it's the Randomizer rewarding me after making me read our last pick again.

See you in a day or two (and the next one...and the next one...and the next one) for the review.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bloodstrike #1

TITLE: Bloodstrike #1

PUBLISHER: Image Comics

COVER DATE: April 1993


32 pages


There's really only one distinct memory that I have of his book from when I originally read it (and no, it wasn't the blood spattered cover effects). This was the issue where I finally realized that the Liefeld-verse of comic book titles wasn't really doing it for me, and I stopped buying them on a regular basis. If I dug down deep enough into my subconscious, I'm sure that I'd find out that I was just buying 'em out of habit since the beginning of X-Force anyway.

And if I'm being completely honest with myself, "buying 'em out of habit" is just the polite way of saying "caught up in the speculator boom".

I'd still peek my head in occasionally for certain projects like Deathmate or Heroes Reborn, but that was more for the characters and spectacle than for the Liefeld house style.

So yeah, this was my swan song with the extreme corner of Image Comics. Was the book that bad, or was it just time for me to move on? Let's find out...

  • Creator/Plot/Layouts: Rob Liefeld
  • Pencils: Dan Fraga
  • Script/Editor: Eric Stephenson
  • Inks: Danny Miki
  • Colors: Byron Talman, Brian Murray
  • Lettering: Kurt Hathaway
  • Color Separations: Chameleon Prime
It's dusk in the Arizona desert, and the enigmatic leader of Bloodstrike, Cabbot, fills us in on their current mission as it's happening. They've been brought in to take down some sort of genetic research laboratory that is armored up more than Cable's left arm. We're not really told too much about why they're here to destroy the facility, just that somebody is paying for them to take it out.

Cabbot and Tag sneak in one side of the compound, while Deadlock and Fourplay create a disturbance at the other end.

I love the old 90's character names. They seem to fall into two modes; either vague and extremely foreboding sounding, or incredibly obvious while bordering on parody.

So which one of these characters is Deadlock and which one is Fourplay? I bet you can guess, but my money's on Fourplay being the Wolverine clone as he looks like a very generous lover.

Once inside, Cabbot and Tag make short work of the hired help and are about to head deeper into the facility when Cabbot is overcome by a powerful sense of deja vu as one of his recurring flashbacks take hold.

He's not the only one getting deja vu. Didn't we just read this same story not more than a couple of months ago?

Let's see...

In Deathmate Red, we had a tactical strike team of heroes infiltrating a heavily guarded base.

While in Bloodstrike, we have a tactical strike team of heroes infiltrating a heavily guarded base.

In all fairness, this is a situation that has been well trod in the world of comics. Let's not hold it against 'em, and move on.

When Cabbot comes out of his flashback, we find that the momentary distraction was costly as he and Tag have been found by the base's Commander, Corben. Just as he orders his men open fire, the cavalry arrives.

And with the cavalry, another sense of deja vu.

In Deathmate Red we had an over-sized rock guy crash in from above and beat up a bunch of armored goons single-handedly.

In Bloodstrike we have an over-sized robot guy crash in from above and beat up a bunch of armored goons single-handedly.

Over the next seven pages, we are born witness to Shogun in all his robotic glory as every appendage sprouts more gun barrels than a hydra has heads. With all of that firepower, it doesn't seem like this should take seven pages to take down some generic armored goons, but throw in two (count 'em, two) double-page spreads and that's what you get.

In all the chaos, it's revealed that Corben is merely a holographic image that dissipates in all of the gunfire.

It's at this point that Cabbot feels he's being set-up somehow. Collecting Shogun and Tag, they head off to rendezvous with Deadlock and Fourplay. Someone on the creative team has a real soft spot for Shogun, as we then get a full page of him strapping Cabbot and Tag on his back and taking off like a human rocket.

Speaking of Deadlock and Fourplay, they have things well in hand(s) dealing with some more generic armored goons. We never do find out what makes Deadlock all "deadlocky", but I guess it's just enough that he's mean and out of control and all. I suppose it doesn't hurt that he stole Wolverine's cowl too. That guy must really be a badass.

Cabbot and the rest of the team soon show up, and just as he's explaining that they're bugging out because the job has gone wrong, Corben shows back up ready to finish the job. He also explains that Cabbot was right, they were set him!


I'm sure it was all part of a plot to further his quest for world domination or some such thing--

And by insane, I'm sure he's talking about the writer who gave him such hardcore intentions on which to hang the plot

What was that? Hold on, I'm now getting told that that wasn't the case. Yes, I'm getting confirmation that Corben hired Bloodstrike himself so that he could take them down as they tried to infiltrate the base and then keep his job as head of security because he was about to be let go.

But this came out in the boom time of the 90's! Everyone had a job. I guess this issue truly was ahead of its time, as it's more timely now than it was seventeen years prior.

Seeing how shockingly unimpressive Corben's secret plan was, it comes as no surprise that he's taken down in short order. Tag finally shows why she's called Tag as she touches Corben and he freezes in place.

I feel some more deja vu coming on...

In Deathmate Red we had the leader of the generic armored goons shot in the back while he was unable to defend himself.

In Bloodstrike we have the leader of the generic armored goons shot point blank while he is unable to defend himself.

Back at their home base, Cabbot is recording his post mission log when he gets word of their next job...and this time it's personal. Their mission is to track down one of the rogue group of super-humans plaguing New York. The group they'll be going after this time? Brigade, led by none other than Cabbot's brother, Battlestone.


The big takeaway from this issue, is that I discovered that I like my comics just a tad less obvious.

It's called Bloodstrike, so lets throw some blood effects on the cover.

It's a team of professionals that are as ruthless as they are cunning. How do we know? We're told about it through the narration on every third page.

A little subtlety in comics goes a long way.

The art was about what you'd expect. Plenty of over-extended poses, plenty of pouches, nary a background to be seen. Lots and lots of primary colors, and not much shading to offer anything in the way of contrast.

Still, I suppose if you dig this type of book, then it's done well enough in that style to find something to enjoy here. I better stop while I'm ahead, as this review is starting to wade into back-handed compliment territory.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Rob Liefeld

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Covers so good they actually bleed excitement (some quite literally)

It's time to pick a new random book to review, but it's also Wednesday, so that could only mean one thing around these parts. That's right, it's time for another installment of Comic Book Days of Wednesday's Past!

It was actually a light comic book day for me, and after reading Batman #700 and thinking to myself there's not going to be a better book this week, it seemed like a good time to take a break from the new books and visit the world of old-timey books.

So let's fire up the Randomizer and have him pick a year from 1938-2009 and see what pablum was rotting the kids' brains through the years.

First stop on our trip is 1985! What were the youth of America reading when they weren't breakdancing or playing with the zippers on their parachute pants?

It was Rocket Raccoon #4!

Now I'm not currently reading Guardians of the Galaxy these days, where Rocket Raccoon has found a second life, and I never read the original run of his title, but seeing this cover makes me think I need to seriously rethink my reading priorities.

Look at that...we have a sword wielding raccoon on a robotic horse carrying the severed head of a clown, while being chased by some sort of bat-dragon. How could you not want to know more? Throw in some Mike Mignola artwork and it's a sure thing for the next time I'm at the LCS.

Back to the Randomizer, and let's check in with a different year. Next stop...1943!

Not to be outdone, our trip back 42 years prior pulls a cover that's just as kooky as Rocket Raccoon. The cover in the spotlight this time belongs to Marvel Mystery Comics #43!

I know that racial stereotyping and exaggerating where all the rage back in the WWII era, but what exactly are they trying to say with Hitler on this cover? I'm assuming by the skull chair and the green skin that this is some sort of zombie Hitler? Robert Kirkman eat your heart out. The comically oversized head, on the other hand? Who knows.

That deathtrap doesn't look all that threatening either. I guess they're going to be pulled through the bottom? The crossbar on the top, however, would seem to seriously limit the effectiveness of the spiked cylindrical tube.

Enough fun and games. Let's reset the Randomizer to pick a completely random book from my collection for me to read next. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Bloodstrike #1 from April 1993, published by Image Comics!

Hey kids, look! It's kooky comic book covers done 90's style!

Feel the rage!

Beware the grimaced and clenched expressions!

Lose yourself in a sea of shoulder/arm/leg pouches!

Rub the blood!

Rub the blood!

Seriously? Rub the blood?

That's right, don't think about it and just do what the cover tells you to do.

I'm going to resist the temptation, however, and put this baby up on ebay where I can brag that it's been un-rubbed for the last seventeen years.

At this point, I don't think there's anything left to say. See you in a day or two for the review, in all of its blood drenched glory.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Leave It To Chance #11

TITLE: Leave It To Chance #11

PUBLISHER: Image Comics

COVER DATE: September 1998


22 pages


James Robinson was a creator who could do no wrong in the 90's. From his three part Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight story with Tim Sale, to WildC.A.T.S., Grendel Tales, Starman, and The Golden Age, he amassed one of the best resumes of he 90's. One of my favorites, however, was a title he ultimately left unfinished, Leave It To Chance.

The premise is pretty straightforward, though the setting is not. At least it wasn't in a pre-Harry Potter world. The title follows the adventures of Chance Falconer, the only daughter of famed paranormal investigator Lucas Falconer. All she wants is to follow in her father's footsteps, but the overprotective father is reluctant to allow her in. That just gives the headstrong girl opportunities to get herself into all kinds of problems as she tries to prove herself to her father.

The setting is a city called Devil's Echo, which inhabits a world were monsters and magic go hand-in-hand with the regular mundane aspects of our universe. That gives the Falconer family plenty of mysteries to solve, but unfortunately we only ever got thirteen issues before the book was left unfinished.

I don't remember the specifics of this issue, but judging by the cover it looks like we're in for some zombie fun. Hopefully we're not all to burned out on zombies to have a little fun with this issue.

Dead Men Can't Skate
  • Writer: James Robinson
  • Pencils: Paul Smith
  • Inks: George Freeman
  • Color: Jeremy Cox
  • Lettering: Amie Grenier
  • Editor: John Layman
Tragedy has struck the sporting world of Devil's Echo, as the star hockey player that is leading the Ice Demons to their first Stanley Cup championship has just turned up murdered! A week goes by as their 3-0 lead slowly dwindles away to a 3-3 tie with the final game sold out. Lucas Falconer has managed to use his connections to get some box seats. It doesn't take long, however, for him to be pulled into another mystery as another player has turned up missing during the middle of the game.

Lucas' friend from the police force approaches him to help with the case. He's unsure, as this doesn't seem paranormal, but Lt. Saunders reassures him that that's not entirely true.

Back from the dead is the first murdered player, Raepher McDougal. The people smiling in that panel are the father and son owners of the Ice Demons, who with the return of their star player, just saw their chances for the championship resurrected along with McDougal.

The unhappy looking chap is the owner of the other team, who can't seem to find the designation in the rulebook that states that a player must be alive to play. So the second period gets underway with a rejuvenated crowd cheering the Ice Demons on.

Back in the stands, Lucas explains to Chance that he has to go help find the other missing player. She and her pet dragon want to help, but her father will not hear any of it.

Chance and her dragon sneak back to the locker room, where she hopes to pick up the missing player's scent for the dragon to track. While they are in the locker room, they find Will Bendix, a local reporter, already sniffing out the story for himself. The pool their resources as Georgie has picked up the scent and flies out of the locker room.

It's debatable whether Chance has a knack for finding trouble, or trouble has a knack for finding her, but either way she soon ends up right in the thick of things as she comes upon one of the owners of the Ice Demons sneaking around above the suspended scoreboard over center ice. Georgie has led them straight to him, as has the missing player tied up.

It would appear that he has bet against his own team, even going so far as to murder their star player to ensure that they lost. His plan went bottom up with the McDougal back from the dead, and that forced him to improvise with kidnapping the second player.

Just as he is about to drop the hockey player and Chance down onto the ice, Will jumps from the shadows to fight the two big goons that are doing the owner's dirty work for him.

Seeing as how scoreboards weren't meant for this type of action, it soon comes loose from it's moorings, spilling the two troggs who killed McDougal onto the ice. After getting a hat trick while the fight was going on, he now has a chance to personally check the two that were responsible for his death into the the boards and into unconsciousness.

All's well that ends well, as the Ice Demons win their championship and the man responsible for the McDougal's murder is arrested.

Everything, that is, except for Chance, who is now in trouble with her father for not listening to him.


It’s good to know that this series holds up the level of quality that I remember it having, as it’s been a while since I reread one of these. In fact, it’s been so long, I now have a kid of my own. While a four year old is probably a little young to enjoy this book yet, I did find myself thinking that it will definitely be a good book to share with him when he starts reading.

This ends up being one of the few books that claims that it can be enjoyed by both kids and adults, and I’d have to say that this one’ll probably be able to pull it off. It’s lighthearted enough that the violence and situations are never too over the top, but tense enough to have just the right amount of excitement.

The world these characters inhabit is a wonderful blend of heroics and fantasy, and you never know what can happen next. It makes for some great stories that allow the creative team to really let loose and go wherever their talents take them.

And speaking of talents, the artist for this series was Paul Smith. He really cleaned up and simplified his already one-of-a-kind style to present what I think is some of his best stuff. He was the artist for the first Uncanny X-Men that I ever bought off the stands, so I always have a bit of soft spot for his work, but I would probably trade my entire Uncanny collection to get more issues of Leave It To Chance drawn.

I’m sure now that close to ten years have gone by, that that’s just not going to happen. It’s a shame, as books this good deserve a longer run. I’m thankful for what we do have, however, and with James Robinson back in the comic book frame of never know.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) James Robinson and Paul Smith