Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Punisher (Vol. 1) #3

TITLE: The Punisher (Vol. 1) #3

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER DATE: March 1986


23 pages


As I sat down to begin the review and I looked back over the previous post where this issue was selected, I guess I kinda waxed eloquently a little more than I usually do. In fact, I didn't leave myself with a whole lot of anything new to write for the preamble here, but there are at least two other distinct thoughts that do came to mind.

To begin with, this is the first mini-series (or series) I remember reading that really surprised me when I initially read it. I had been reading comics for less than a year by this point, and being the brash punk that I was, I thought that I had seen it all. But here we had a mini-series about a borderline villain that was truly unlike anything I had read up to that point. Perhaps that's why I remember this series more for the feelings it evoked, rather than the actual content of the story.

Second, is that this series made me a Mike Zeck fan to this day. The surprising thing, however, is that there's not a lot of his work in my collection. I never did go longbox diving for his past work, but I always kept my eye out for his name in the credits. Unfortunately, he never did land on another series that I collected regularly, but his covers for Deathstroke, The Terminator were a big part of me deciding to collect that series.

  • Writer: Steven Grant
  • Penciller: Mike Zeck
  • Inker: John Beatty
  • Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
  • Colorist: Bob Sharen
  • Editor: Carl Potts
  • Editor in Chief: James Shooter
The issue opens up as a gang war is raging across New York City. One of the mobsters involved, Santiago, is being watched by snipers on a nearby roof as he exits a cafe. As gunfire rains down around him, killing his two bodyguards, his driver pulls up and rescues Santiago before he is gunned down as well.

As Santiago swears vengeance on Ejszaka and his men for trying to kill him, his relief at getting out alive is soon replaced with despair as he realizes that the Punisher is driving the car that saved him. As they are chased through the city by more of Ejszaka's hitmen, the Punisher explains that he didn't save Santiago out of the kindness of his own heart. He's going to do something for him, by helping him stop the gang war.

Santiago soon realizes that he's not in a strong enough position to survive a protracted gang war, and he reluctantly agrees to call another peace conference with the other mob families in the city.

We soon get a small clue as to what the Punisher is up to as he returns to the apartment of his lady friend, Angela.

It seems the Punisher was the one that initiated the gang war, in the hopes that the various mob families would wipe themselves out. It didn't work out that smoothly, as too many innocents have been caught in the crossfire. Now, he just seeks to get the peace going again to bring stability back to the city.

Angela tries to convince him to join forces with The Trust, a shadowy vigilante organization that sprung him from jail in the first issue. Little does the Punisher know, however, the she is working for them and her apartment is bugged. As two members of that organization listen in, we find out that The Trust is getting impatient that the Punisher has yet to officially join their cause of wiping out the New York mobs.

Weary of groups, the Punisher tells Angela he'll think about The Trust, when he notices that someone is watching her apartment. He sneaks up on the car parked outside to find out that it is Tony Massera, the son of a respected mob boss. It's immediately apparent that this kid is no threat to the Punisher, but he swears revenge on the Punisher for killing his father. The Punisher walks away, condemning him to his father's fate if he should try to carry out his threat.

Back to his plan, the Punisher is on hand to personally "convince" several of the mob bosses to attend the hastily convened peace conference. Before he leaves the last one, he questions him about Marcus Coriander, a relatively new boss on the scene that he doesn't know much about. He gets the location of his office, but that's about it.

The Punisher heads back to Santiago's place to listen in on the peace conference. As the conference call begins, gunfire is heard on the other lines as the mobsters are all being gunned down at once. Santiago manages to hear one of the bosses implicate the Punisher as the gunman with his dying breath. As the Punisher steps out of the shadows of Santiago's office, it's revealed that it's an impostor in the Punisher's outfit. He guns down Santiago as the real Punisher comes bursting into his office, too late to save the one gangster willing to help him.

It's soon apparent that all of the mob bosses but Coriander are dead. He has done what the Punisher could not do, as he has eliminated all of the heads of the various mob families of New York. There now remains just one more thing for the Punisher to do, and that is to pay a visit to Coriander to finish things once and for all.

Across town, Coriander is anything but elated at the current turn of events. Yes, his competition is all but destroyed, but the Punisher remains. The army of Punisher lookalikes that he had sent out to do his dirty work have returned, and Marcus gives them orders to find the Punisher and kill him. He then leaves them to their target practice as he heads into his office.

Unfortunately for him, the Punisher is there waiting for him. During his interrogation, Marcus reveals that he is working for the Trust. If the Punisher kills him now, it will just be that much easier for the Kingpin to come back and reclaim his power and throne. As he struggles with the long term and short term implications of killing Coriander for all of the innocents that have suffered by his actions, Marcus grabs a desk lamp and strikes the Punisher in the head. That buys him enough time to burst out of his office, as he orders his men to kill the Punisher.

It's not really a fair fight, and the Punisher is soon back chasing Coriander as he flees his office building. As the Punisher closes in on him, Corianer opens fire. He misses the Punisher, but strikes and kills a little girl in the lobby.

Coriander escapes, as the Punisher is momentarily paralyzed by the horror of what has just witnessed. Flashbacks flood his mind of his family being gunned down in central park, and of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire from his time in Viet Nam. He soon snaps out of it, redoubling his efforts to make Coriander pay, when he catches up to him in an alley.

Distraught over what he has just done, Coriander is a mess. He gives up the name of the man who he's working for, just as he is shot dead by someone standing behind the Punisher. He turns to see that the shooter was none other than his lover, Angela!

It turns out that the Punisher was getting played all along, as the Trust was using him for their own agenda. They had hoped he would join them, but he was too much of a loner. Now, he is nothing more than a loose end that needs mopping up. As the Punisher struggles to make sense of everything, Angela takes aim and fires at him.

The Punisher collapses to the floor of the alley, finally realizing that he can trust no one before he loses consciousness.


To tell you the truth, as this issue started out, I thought it was a little on the weak side. I was starting to get disappointed that it wasn't living up to the memories that I had of this being a good mini-series. As the issue progressed however, and we get to the mob conference, it really picked up pace and never let go.

It's at that point that all of the various storythreads and plot points begin to converge and the action ramps up. It was interesting to see the Punisher in a vulnerable position, as he struggles with the idea of working with a vigilante organization. The fact that the one person he let himself get close to was in on it from the beginning, makes the betrayal all the more painful, as we get a sense that the Punisher may be a somewhat sympathetic character after all.

The on-panel death of the little girl seems a little harsh, as it serves to remind the Punisher of the true purpose of his mission. Even today that scene is jarring, and I can only imagine how it played at the time. We had yet to be hit over the head with the "grim and gritty" characters that seemed to plague the early 90's, so I suppose we have this issue to thank for it. It's a shame that such a cliched genre movement would soon overshadow the character of the Punisher, as there seems to be real effort to play him as more than just a mindless vigilante here.

I suppose it's a testament to what Steven Grant and Mike Zeck started, however, that there has pretty much been a continuous stream of Punisher comics in their wake. Not all of them have been good, but there have been a few gems to be found over the years.

If there's one area of disappointment to be found here, it's sadly to do with the art. I don't seem to remember Mike Zeck being this inconsistent in the interior pages, but I found it really jarring from page to page, sometimes even from panel to panel. Maybe it's the fact that his covers for this series were so iconic, that I had assumed the same level of craftsmanship got carried to the inside as well. That's not the case however, but there's still work to be enjoyed between the covers.

All in all, it's good to see that one of the touchstone series from my "golden age" of comic book reading still, more or less, holds up to today's standards.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Punishing you with an excess of links

Time for a little word association game to guess where I've been for the past week. I'm going to give you a bunch of words and/or phrases, and you have to tell me the first thing that pops in your mind, ok?
  • Endless travel
  • Vendor booths
  • Twelve hour days standing and walking
  • The Walking Dead
  • Comic books
That's right, I was at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con Redford I aRt Festival!

Regular readers should know by now that my wife is a fine art photographer after linking to her on-line shops now and again. This last weekend was our local art show that she happens to also be the artist coordinator for. That means that I got to man her booth while she hob-nobbed with the other artists in attendance. That's where the twelve hour days come in.

Immediately following that, I'm off on a three day/four state sales trip through the Midwest for my dayjob. That takes care of the endless travel and the walking dead.

And the comic books? Wouldn't you know it that the fellow artist in the booth next to my wife's had a husband who was cleaning out his shortboxes. Word travels fast that I'm a comic book guy, and he brought me up a gift of Batman #436-439 before the show was over. You gotta love the generosity and camaraderie of an artist community. Thanks again Ralph!

Overall, the show was a big success due in no small part to the great effort of the RPAC commitee to bring a respectable art show to our little hamlet outside of Detroit.

And since I happen to know someone high up in the organization, I've requested they not do it on Comic-Con weekend next year, so I'm pretty sure they'll put my request at the top of their to-do list for 2011.

Anyways, I'm back, but without a scanner until Thursday so no new review until later on in the week. What I can do, however, is this. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is The Punisher (Vol. 1) #3 from March 1986, published by Marvel Comics!

So this here title is one of the touchstones of my collection, as I'm pretty sure that this is the first title that I ever speculated on and ended up buying multiple copies of. I only bought two, so I wasn't that bad, but then again a month later I bought 5 copies of X-Factor #1. So much for restraint.

Before this mini-series started, I had never read an issue of anything with the Punisher in it before. All I remember is that awesome Mike Zeck cover to the first issue featuring the Punisher with his back to the wall, two guns blazing in a hail of gunfire. That's a cover I'm sure I'll remember until the day I die. That issue also started me on a path of collecting all of his previous appearances in Amazing Spider-Man, but for whatever reason I looked for them in reverse order. By the time I got to Amazing Spider-Man #129, it was well out of my price range. Live and learn, I guess.

His later attempts at ongoing titles never paid off for me, and I didn't collect his titles again until Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon came on board. That's a conversation for another day, so let's dig in and reread an issue from his original mini-series that I haven't reread in probably twenty years. I'm curious as all get out to see how it compares to the modern day Punisher. See you in a day or two for the review.

UPDATE: And wouldn't you know it, as soon as I got this post written I hopped on over to it's a Dan's world to see what he had to say today (as he's a quality daily blogger) and he's got this same issue highlighted as his Crazy Cool Classic Cover. Make sure you bookmark his sight and check him out, as he's good folk (and he's been known to comment around these parts on occasion).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Mighty Thor #430

TITLE: The Mighty Thor #430

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER DATE: March 1991


22 pages


We finally get an official Thor book to read and I'm kind of ambivalent, to tell you the truth. I love Thor, and I love reading Thor comics, but he is one of those concepts where I don't like reading mediocre Thor comics. On the opposite spectrum, there are some characters like Superman that I like so much, I'll read their crappy issues all day long. That's a good thing, as it appears I have a year's worth of wandering and pontificating Superman to look forward to.

Thor, on the other hand, has a lot shorter leash with me. Luckily for us, we've had some stellar Thor runs over the years, unfortunately for us, this issue falls squarely in the "meh" era.

Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz put in quite a lengthy run on The Mighty Thor, working on close to six years worth of issues together. The first two or three years of their run I remember fondly and have a lot of time for. The Eric Masterston/Thunderstrike stuff never really paid off for me, and I honestly didn't think I had that many issues in my collection.

Which leads me to the other thing that has me dragging my feet reading this issue. It was the 90's and speculation ruled the day, so I'm sure the fact that Ghost Rider guest stars is the reason I have this issue. I've long since soured on him as a character, so this is going to be a tough one.

Let's just get it over with.

The God, The Ghost, And The Guilty!
  • Plot, Words: Tom DeFalco
  • Plot, Pencils: Ron Frenz
  • Finished Art: Al Milgrom
  • Lettering: Spikeal Heisleropoulos
  • Coloring: Mike Rockwitz
  • Editing: Ralph Macchio
This issues starts off like any comic worth its salt an abandoned factory.

And like any good Marvel book, there's a couple of team-mates beating up on each other. This time around it's the Wrecker exerting a little tough love on his Wrecking Crew.

It seems that last issue saw the Wrecking Crew mix it up with Ghost Rider when Mephisto suddenly appeared. What they were doing screwing around in Thor's book is anybody's guess. For some reason that spooked the Wrecker, who quickly transported the crew away. Back at their base of operations, Bulldozer calls him on it and the Wrecker doesn't take too kindly being called yellow.

The Wrecker is not the only one concerned about Mephisto, as both Ghost Rider and Loki ruminate about what his sudden appearance means. While Ghost Rider can only ponder the situation while he motors around town, Loki decides to pay the Prince of Lies a personal visit.

While discussing the reappearance of the Ghost Rider, it is revealed that Mephisto has actually set his sights on a particular immortal soul and that an alliance might be in order.

Back on the mortal plane, we finally check in with the star of the book as Eric Masterton is being confronted by two of his friends who claim to know his secret. Luckily for him, they just think he's an alcoholic, not the Asgardian God of Thunder.

The tension is soon broken by the arrival of Eric's ex-wife and son, who interrupt the make-shift intervention. The fact that one of his friends carries a small torch for Eric just makes the whole scene more awkward than it needed to be. Honestly, it's a little hokey and comes across as a bad episode of As The Midgard Turns.

You said it pal, not me! Well maybe I did, but I'm just glad we can move on now and let's get to the action.

Still nursing his bruised ego from earlier, the Wrecker takes advantage of Thor's nightly patrol and decides to give the boys some action. They'll take down Thor, and then finish the job they started previously with Ghost Rider. An ambush is set, and Thor soon finds himself on the receiving end of a ton of bricks.

One well-phrased "I say thee nay" later, and Thor is back on top going toe-to-toe with the Wrecker and his Wrecking Crew. Loki does some scheming of his own and manipulates the Ghost Rider to show up as well.

As the battle rages on, Loki takes advantage of the confusion to strip the Asgardian power from each member of the Wrecking Crew that was stolen from him at an earlier date. Eventually, it's just the Wrecker and Bulldozer left standing when the Wrecker decides to use his crowbar to send the two heroes into another dimension.

Little does he know that he's falling right into Loki's plans, as Loki redirects the Asgardian energy emitted from the crowbar to open up a doorway into Mephisto's realm.

While Thor and Ghost Rider mop up the demons, Loki is able to drain the last of his Asgardian energy that still remains within the Wrecker and Bulldozer. He leaves the comatose bodies of the Wrecking Crew for Thor to deal with, while taking the unconscious Wrecker back to Asgard with him to toy with at his leisure.

With the crisis averted, Ghost Riders leaves Thor to do all of the clean-up work as he rides off wondering to himself why the demons from Mephisto's realm looked so familiar to him. While we're speaking of Mephisto, he makes one final appearance as it's revealed that the immortal soul he is after is none other than Thor's, but I'm going to guess that the sharper readers among you have probably already figured that out.


Unfortunately, nothing much. Or at least nothing that makes me change the opinions I had going into this story. It's an average issue in an average run of Thor issues.

Technically, it's well done as the pacing and plot move along nicely. The dual schemers of Loki and Mephisto work off of each other nicely, but are never really given enough interaction this issue.

The fight with the Wrecking Crew was all right, but lacked any real tension. I never got the sense that it was going to turn out any other way than it did, which is a shame, as with Loki in the mix there should be some semblance of unpredictability to it. Thor and Ghost Rider barely seem to notice each other during the fight, making the whole pretense of the "team-up" seem mildly forced.

There were two other things that really stood out for me, that I didn't remember or notice the first time through. First, the drama with Eric's social life was so over the top I kept waiting for Conando to come bursting through the door. Alas, he didn't, and the comic was worse off for it as it tried to play the drama seriously.

Second, the coloring was really garish throughout this whole issue. There was zero subtlety or shading to it, and it just jumped out and punched you in the eyes with every other panel. It was a good thing for Thor that computer colors were just around the corner.

With all that said, I'm still looking forward to the next time Thor shows up, but would it kill the Randomizer to give me a little Kirby or Simonson?

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just in case you hadn't read enough about Batman this week...

So there sure was a lot of Batman news floating around the internet this last week, eh?

You don't like the current creative teams? Well here's some new ones!

You don't like the current crop of Batman titles? Well here's some new ones!

Can't get enough of Damian? Well look over here!

My favorite bit of news? It's gotta be Scott Snyder on Detective Comics as I've been enjoying the heck out of American Vampire, and can't wait to see what he brings to the streets of Gotham.

So back to business, and it's time to pick another random book to review. I actually had the bare bones of a Comic Book Days of Wednesday's Past post ready to go on Wednesday, but then Matt Wagner decided to answer a couple of questions for me about the issue we just read, and that had to take priority. Couple that with the wife's new ipad that showed up the day after that, and I guess I got a little distracted.

That doesn't mean that the post goes to waste, as our trip through the past brought up two Bat-books, coincidentally enough. So while Batman is still in the news, let's do a special All-Batman edition of Comic Book Days of Wednesday's Past.

Firing up the Randomizer with the years from 1938 to 2009, and our first stop is 1995. So what Bat-book was on the stands fifteen years ago this month?

So that's surprising.

No, not the Kelley Jones' cover for Batman #522, as he never fails to provide an impressive Batman cover. What is surprising is that Swamp Thing is on the cover. I would've lost money on a bet that he was off limits to the DCU at this time, being swallowed up by Vertigo as it were. What comes around goes around, however, as all signs point towards him making a return once again.

Back to the Randomizer, and this time we're off to 1956 and Batman #102!

Well, duh!

Who else is going to discover the Batcave but an actual caveman!

I think that's gotta be my new favorite cover.

It's such a wonderfully goofy idea, that you figure it's either gotta be a silver age story or a Grant Morrison issue. Lucky for us we live in a world of riches and have an issue of each available for us to read. I read Morrison's cave-man epic, now I need to track this one down.

So with that taken care of, let's get our next random book picked to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is The Mighty Thor #430 from March 1991, published by Marvel Comics!

So while Thor has popped up with some regularity around these parts, this is the first time we've had an issue from his solo title to read. I wish I could give you a heads up as to what we're in for, but this cover ain't ringing any bells. It's got Ghost Rider on the front, but so did every other book from the early 90's.

I'm actually surprised that out of the three dozen books picked from the 90's so far, it took us over a year to stumble across the spirit of vengeance. Luckily for us, I ebayed my Danny Ketch Ghost Rider issues away a couple of years ago, so all we'll probably ever get is the occasional guest star appearance like this one.

Come back in a day or two for the review, and we'll see what's up with The God, the Ghost, and the Guilty!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Matt Wagner Interview

Normally, I'd be writing a post right about now to pick a new random book to review from my collection, but we have a special treat for you today instead.

If you've been following the blog recently you're aware that we've had a spate of Demon posts over the past week, and we're not quite done with Etrigan yet. I had such a good time re-reading this issue, that after I initially finished I went on-line to check out Matt Wagner's website for some more good stuff. While I was there, I took the opportunity to contact him with a couple of quick questions...and wouldn't you know it, he was kind enough to respond!

So without further ado, here's my two question interview with Matt Wagner.

RL: The Demon seems like such a natural fit for you, as your stories often have mystical elements running side by side the real world. Was your initial Demon mini-series something that DC approached you about, or was this character a favorite of yours previously?

MW: No, I was still something of a young fledgling when the Demon series came about. I had always liked the character and, in fact, had done a painted re-creation of the cover to #1 in Junior High School (long since lost).

I was just starting to get some renown via MAGE and GRENDEL when I happened to meet Dick Giordano at a convention. He invited me up to New York to give DC a pitch for whatever I'd like to approach. I originally took him a re-vamp of Batgirl but they'd already set plans in motion for THE KILLING JOKE and Barbara Gordon's crippling (my plot outline had her running for the Senate, necessitating a new Batgirl).

So, Dick asked me who else I liked in the DC stable of characters (it was kinda understood that I wasn't going to get a crack at any of the REALLY big guys at that point) and so I mentioned the Demon. Etrigan had just been featured in two issues of Alan More's seminal run on SWAMP THING during which Alan introduced the rhyming aspect of his speech. I thought that was incredibly cool and so Dick told me to go back home and come with a pitch for a DEMON mini-series.

I based the story on two incredibly beautifully drawn Demon short stories from BATMAN FAMILY where the legendary Michael Golden provided the art. I used the events of those stories as a springboard for the beginning of my series.

RL: What brought you back to the Demon for a second time with issue #22? Did you have more that you wanted to say with the character that you didn't get a chance to originally? Or was this just an opportunity to have a little more fun inside the DCU?

MW: As much as the situation I just described sounds like something of a dream opportunity for a young creator, the reality was a bit of a nightmare. DC at that point wasn't geared towards working with the new crop of independent creators that were cropping up around the edges of the industry and, honestly, I had no idea how to function within their corporate structures.

I don't want to rehash old problems here but the results were, I felt, a very fractured and overwrought series that didn't live up to my expectations. To this day, the original mini-series is probably the least favorite of all my published efforts...yet I'm continually surprised how many people have a real fondness for that run.

Well anyway, years later, Dan Rasplur was editing a new DEMON ongoing series and called to offer me a one-shot fill-in issue. I saw this as the perfect way to cleanse my creative palette of the grim experiences I'd had on the original series and so I endeavored to make that one issue the opposite of my initial take on the character. Whereas my DEMON mini-series was dark, dour and serious in so many aspects, I deliberately made issue #22 of the current series more of a light-hearted romp (which certainly still had horrific elements). I took the same approach with the verbiage as well; the first series was very word-heavy and the fill-in issue was written as something of a nursery rhyme.

So there you have first foray into comics journalism.

I want to thank Matt Wagner for taking the time and being incredibly kind and detailed with his answers. I met him at a con about ten years ago, and he was nice enough to draw an extra doodle in my Season of Mists hardcover next to his autograph. It's great to see that he's as gracious with his time now, as he was back then.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Demon #22

TITLE: The Demon #22


COVER DATE: April 1992


24 pages


I missed out on the debut and original run of The Demon, as it was just a little bit before my time. I only have a handful of the later issues, and most of those are from Garth Ennis and John McCrea's run. So when this issue popped up on the Randomizer, I had completely forgotten that it existed. That's no slight against Matt Wagner, it's just that I was such a huge Ennis fan during the 90's that I figured that him writing was the only reason I would've picked up an issue of The Demon.

Was I ever wrong. There's a handful of creators who were putting out exceptional work, month in and month out during the 90's, and one of those was Matt Wagner. It shouldn't come as a big surprise that it ended up in my collection, but I'm kicking myself that I let it sit unread for close to twenty years.

We already got a sneak peek of what we're in for yesterday, so let's just get to it and read this thing already.

Witch War
  • Written and Drawn by Matt Wagner
  • Colored by Bernie Mireault
  • Lettered by Todd Klein
  • Edited by Dan Raspler
  • Demon created by Jack Kirby
I've never been too good with the rhyming sound
But since that's the Demon's bit,
We'll toss the old iambic pentameter around
And see if we can get something to fit.

Yeah, don't worry...this whole review is not going to be in rhyme. I may be crazy enough to randomly read my comic book collection and blog about it one issue at a time, but I'm nowhere near foolish enough to do even one post in rhyme.

We are introduced to Sybil Haden at the outset of the story, as she begins the chain of events that would make her a full-fledged witch in the service of Lilith. All it took to start things off was for her to murder an older witch, so she could take advantage of the opening in the coven. Before long, she is marked by the devil and acquires a familiar in the form of a rooster.

All is well and good, until another upstart decides to take her place. She strikes out at Sybil, and her rooster takes the brunt of the assault and is left disemboweled.

Using all of the witchcraft at her disposal, she summons a council with Asmodeus, First Son of Lilith, and Archduke of Hell. She will have her revenge, but Asmodeus just laughs and sends her back to the mortal plane with nothing but the name of a lesser demon who just might be able to assist her. That demon, of course, is Etrigan.

Sybil sets out again to seek otherworldly help in her quest for revenge, this time setting a mystical snare for Etrigan, so that once he's bound he'll be forced to help her. Etrigan hears her summons and soon finds himself trapped within a mystical circle. As you can well imagine, Etrigan is none too pleased to find himself bound to help this young witch.

Sybil's binding spell was too good, however, and the Demon soon finds himself doing her bidding. It turns out that Annie Mojo, the witch who killed her familiar, did so to make of it a homunculus. Sybil will have her familiar back, so off the Demon goes to retrieve the homunculus. Nearing Annie's hovel, Etrigan gets a chance to let out his frustration about the current turn of events on Annie's zombie hordes that guard her front gate.

Once inside the witch's domicile, her traps and snare's are no match for Etrigan. Soon enough, he is face to face with Annie and her pig familiar, as well as the newly constructed little chicken-man.

With a belch of hellfire to distract the witch, Etrigan makes off with not only the little chicken-man, but also the swine familiar of Annie! Arriving back at Sybil's place, the Demon gives her her beloved little rooster-man when he gives her another surprise as well. She's none to pleased with Etrigan's extra prize, for a familiar is bound to the witch in such a fashion, that Annie Mojo can not be too far behind!

With Annie's arrival, a battle of witchcraft is soon engaged. Annie is able to use her spells to transform her familiar into a giant pig-man and sics it on Sybil. Desperate to turn the tide, Sybil undoes her binding spell on Etrigan in exchange for his help in defeating the pig-man. It's a deal, and the battle is on once again.

It's only when the last of Sybil's binding knots are undone, does Etrigan release his hellfire breath to burn the pig-man alive. Devastated, Annie Mojo is soon brought down by Sybil's witchcraft, and the battle is done.

All's well that ends well, eh?

Not so fast, as the Demon has one more score to settle with Sybil. He lets her know how unkindly he takes to being bound in service, and unfortunately it's her homunculus that bears the brunt of his dissatisfaction.

With that bit of business taken care of, Etrigan wishes her well and thanks her for a marvelous night on the town.


I think we may have a new contender for favorite single issue here at the Random Longbox, and it's rediscovering little gems like this that make doing this blog a heckuva lot of fun.

Matt Wagner takes an anti-morality play and puts the Demon smack dab in the middle of things. The fact that the Demon is a captive player in this drama puts an interesting little twist into the story. He's allowed to be as arrogant, brutal, and pompous as he wants to be and we're still allowed to root for him. The witches are the real villains of this story, and they're their own worst enemies. The Demon is little more than a force of nature doing what he's been bred to do.

The artwork by Matt Wagner is just about perfect. The comic has a certain tongue-in-cheek feel to it, and his artwork really brings out the irreverence and puts it center stage. All the while, you never get the sense that he's making fun of the genre, but he's definitely having fun with it.

So the next time you find yourself wandering down the aisles of your comic book store, stop by the "D" box and look this issue up. You'll be glad you did.

And if you don't? I think the Demon put it best when he went...

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Demon + Matt Wagner = Some Crazy Shit

So when I said yesterday that an over-the-top character like the Demon should give Matt Wagner room to let loose with his art, I had no idea he would take it to such heart.

I don't usually do this, but here's a quick sneak peek of just what we're in for while I finish up the review. And remember, this isn't a Vertigo book. These are in a mainstream DCU book!

Naked Butts!

Thankfully, the Demon manages to keep his shorts on throughout the whole issue.

Eviscerated Bodies!

The Demon is just mad that KFC replaced their Double Down Chicken Bun Sandwich with the disemboweled daily special.

Obscene Hand Gestures!

Admittedly, most of these are relatively tame by today's standards. Don't get complacent, however, as he's just setting you up for this...

Naked Chicken-Men Trapped In Blood Filled Vials?

Come back tomorrow, when we will see how all of this makes sense. In the meantime, I'm going to sit back and watch the google searches come in now that I have all of these great new keywords on my blog! Thanks Matt!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Odds and sods and Demons

It's been a while since we've looked at the odds and sods from the last couple of weeks, so let's check in with some random thoughts before we pick another book to review.
  • By now I'm sure you've heard about Wonder Woman's new urban-friendly outfit. The jacket caught a lot of flack, but it's actually part of a rash of jacketed super-hero re-imaginings.

    Although it looks like Jim Lee missed the part of the memo that specified that the jackets must be hoodies.

  • I'm not sure how relevant this is to anyone else's collection, but I found it interesting. I have 1,359 comic books in my collection that are first issues. If you take a look at the Randomizer over to the right, you'll see that I have a total of 13,586 books in my database. That's almost exactly 10%, which strikes me as a little on the high side. Although with the amount of relaunches and renumberings over the last twenty years, maybe that's a little low?

  • DC recently announced that Death shall be stepping across the hazy border that separates the Vertigo universe from the DC one. Considering that Vertigo isn't one of the 52, that's quite a feat. To say that I'm looking forward to this is a bit of an understatement, as I'm definitely anxious to see what Paul Cornell is going to do with her and Lex Luthor. Why stop there though, as I'd kill to see a Lex Luthor vs. Red Crow showdown!

  • One of the great things about comics is there is always some character, somewhere that you've never heard of just waiting to be discovered. Case in point...Neptune Perkins. I was reading the DC Multiverse blog this morning, and they had an entry posted on second-string water heroes, in which Neptune Perkins was highlighted. I'm not sure If I'm going to be tracking down all of his appearances, but his super-hero moniker sure did make me chuckle. Good thing he tacked his last name on there, as I'd hate to get him confused with Neptune Jones or, heaven forbid, Neptune himself.
That's enough fooling around, so let's get to the business at hand and pick a new completely random book to review. Take it away, Randomizer...

...and that book is The Demon #22 from April 1992, published by DC Comics!

One look at that cover and I know we're in for a treat. It's not just the fact that it's a bad-ass shot of the Demon, but I'm more excited by the creator listed on the cover...Matt Wagner!

That's right, written and drawn by one of my favorite creators. I've never had too much love for the Demon per se, but you put a creator of Matt Wagner's talent on the book and I'm sold. This character seems like a natural fit for Wagner's style, where magic seems to always run smack dab into reality. The over the top nature of the Demon as a character should give Wagner plenty of space to let loose.

See you in a day or two for the review.