Thursday, September 9, 2010

Comic Shop Shenanigans

It's going to be another day or two for the Superman #65 review to find its way to the internet, as my exciting day job as a Territory Manager for a maintenance and repair parts distributor has once again taken precedence. I'm in Cincinnati visiting some clients, but that doesn't mean that you should be deprived of some of the random comic book entertainment you so richly deserve.

So what do we have on tap for today in its place?

It's another fine installment of...

My Comic Book Shop Is Better Than Your Comic Book Shop!

That's a bold claim, so let's back it up with this.

My comic book store of fifteen years recently relocated, and no sooner did they get all the longboxes moved into their new Pop Culture Warehouse down the street when this mysterious image of Heath Ledger's Joker appeared on the roof of their old location.


And entirely coincidental, I'm sure.

Click over here to mess around with the google maps and see it for yourself.

If you ever find yourself in the metro Detroit area, I'd also recommend stopping by and visiting the fine folks over at Back To The Past in person. Tell 'em that the Random Longbox sent you, and marvel at their polite but quizzical expressions...
"The random what-now?"
I wouldn't, however, recommend climbing up to the roof of their old location as I'm sure that's frowned upon by several local ordinances.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Homage Files

So I'm reading Superman (Vol. 2) #65 for the upcoming review, and I came across this nice looking splash page.

And as nice as that image is, it instantly reminds me of this one from Crisis On Infinite Earths #5.

George Perez is the undisputed master of massive super-hero group shots, and from looking at his shot here, it's easy to see why. The design work in that image is nothing short of amazing. From the angled perspective, to the circular border, to the varying levels of depth...there's something new to see each time you look at it.

That's reason enough that this image has stuck with me for the last twenty-five years, as there are plenty of iconic images that came from this series, but this one is one of my favorites. I had just started reading comics earlier the year and was mainly a Marvel guy, yet I vividly remember staring at this splash page again and again wondering just who everybody was.

Ahhh, to be a kid again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Odds and sods and Superman again!

I hope everyone out there (or at least all of my American readers) is enjoying the holiday today. The international readers among you can feel free to enjoy the day too, you'll just have to do it in a non-governmentally sanctioned way.

It's time once again to raid the longboxes and see what completely random book I get to review is, but first let's do a little odds and sods for the last couple of weeks.

  • Does this mean that I can stop having people getting all evangelical on me when I tell them that I have never read any Scott Pilgrim?

  • Here's a quick tip for the aspiring bloggers among you. Mention All-Star Wonder Woman somewhere in your posts on a regular basis. In the last month since I blogged about the Adam Hughes pin-up of the Jim Lee redesigned Wonder Woman from ten years ago, the phrase All-Star Wonder Woman has been the leading search term that brought people to my website. I would've thought this title fell completely off the radar, but I'm guessing if Adam Hughes ever gets around to finishing it, it'll be a top ten book.

  • So I was reading some old Defenders issues I bought after having such a good time with this one, and I came across this ad.

    It's from 1977, and if I'm not mistaken that's Alan Moore trying to subvert the youth with his "magic". I guess that didn't pan out, and he decided to take a more circuitous route into the mind's of the readers by controlling the actual content of the books the next year.
So now that I've brought all of those pertinent observations to you, it's time to hit you with a little random goodness with a new book to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Superman #65 from March 1992, published by DC Comics!

It took a while, but we finally hit managed to snag a Dan Jurgen's Superman book to review. Why is that such a big deal?

There were two books in the early 90's that made a huge impact on me and I'm pretty sure are the main reason that I'm still reading comics, instead of burning out during the speculator boom and crash. The first one was Neil Gaiman's Sandman, while the other was Dan Jurgen's Superman. Both of them re-invigorated my interest in comic books, but for wildly different reasons.

Neil Gaiman showed me how much more comics could actually do, by going outside the super-hero boundaries. Dan Jurgen's on the other hand, took an approach one hundred and eighty degrees opposite, but no less entertaining.

This particular issue lands us smack dab in the Panic In The Sky! storyline that ran through the Superman books at the time, with Brainiac wreaking havoc with Warworld at his command. We've been kind of lucky lately, with the Randomizer picking either the first or last issue of a story to read, but not this time. Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy it nonetheless.

See you in a day or two for the review!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fantastic Four #347

TITLE: Fantastic Four #347

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER DATE: December 1990


23 pages


There's two things that I remember about this issue. One of them, it turns out, I've remembered incorrectly.

I'd always assumed that this issue was the start of Walter Simonson's run on Fantastic Four. I'd read a little bit of the Fantastic Four here and there, but never followed it with any sort of regularity. This issue was the start of me buying this title on a monthly basis, and I guess I always attributed that fact to jumping on at the beginning of Simonson's run, but it turns out that he started his tenure on this title back on issue #334!

As much as I hate to admit it, I guess I jumped on with this issue because it had Wolverine and Ghost Rider in it. Don't judge was the early 90's and I was a naive comic book reader.

Luckily for me this was an awesome issue in the middle of an awesome run. Which leads me to the second thing I remember about this issue, which was that it turned me into a Fantastic Four fan. To put it more correctly, I guess I should say it turned me into a frustrated fan as Simonson would be off the title only eight months later.

To me, Simonson set the bar incredibly high with his run. Yes, It was wacky, goofy, and tongue in cheek; but most of all it was intelligent and incredibly entertaining at the same time. Not many other creators have managed to achieve that balance, which is why my collecting history with the title is full of holes.

The closest we probably got was with Waid and Wieringo's tenure earlier in the decade, which unfortunately had it's consistency marred by some overactive editorialial influence. John Byrne had a highly entertaining run, but I don't know how intelligent it actually was, while Hickman's run currently is striving for intelligent, but leaving the fun behind. I've never read any of Stan and Jack's original run (I know, I know...I'll get around to it someday), but I can only assume that it hit the mark seeing as how they were the ones that defined the target.

To me, Walter Simonson's short run is the apex of greatness, and the fact that there are twelve more issues that I never knew existed before today have me chomping at the bit to go do some longbox shopping tomorrow. In the meantime, however, we'll tide ourselves over rereading this issue.

Big Trouble On Little Earth!
  • Writing: Walter Simonson
  • Penciling: Arthur Adams
  • Inking: Art Thibert
  • Lettering: Bill Oakley
  • Coloring: Steve Buccellato
  • Editing: Ralph Macchio
  • Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco
This issue begins in space, as the silence between the Earth and the Moon is broken by the arrival of a damaged ship that emerges from lightspeed, only to crash land on Earth.

The attractive female pilot (hey, she's drawn by Art Adams...she's gonna be pretty) escapes with her life, swearing vengeance on those that betrayed her and marooned her on Earth.

We'll find out exactly who (and what) she is in a bit, but first let's check in with the Fantastic Four at Four Freedoms Plaza who are enjoying some down time after being away for the last couple of weeks. Like any typical family, however, there's some dysfunction hiding in the background.

Johnny seems to be infatuated with an alien woman that they met a few issues back, even though he's married to Alicia Masters. Johnny Storm married...I had forgotten all about that.

A human Ben Grimm seeks to console his girlfriend, Sharon Ventura, who is currently She-Thing and trapped in her rocky form. She-Thing...I had forgotten all about that.

That right there is the sign of a good writer. You got two things that by all rights should hamper your ability to tell a good Fantastic Four story, and he makes 'em work. So much so, that I had completely forgotten that they were even an issue.

Seeking to take advantage of everyone's distracted attentionzs, our mysterious crash survivor arrives at Four Freedoms Plaza. Using her ability to change shape and her telepathy, she easily slips inside and begins to take the FF down one by one.

Changing her from into Nebula, Johnny's blue-skinned alien infatuation from earlier, she appears before him and gets close enough to shock him into unconsciousness with a hand held taser device.

Similarly, she does the same thing to Ben. Only this time appearing as Johnny's wife, Alicia Masters, his old flame who fell in love with Johnny when Ben was off-world. He obviously still has feelings for her, as the shapechanger is able to take advantage of that to get close enough to use the same device on Ben.

...and we all know the conflicted feelings that Sue has always had for Namor.

Second verse, same as the first...and down goes Sue to the shapechanger.

After drugging She-Thing with a knock-out brew of tea, the mysterious alien sets her sights on Reed. It turns out that the alien actually has a little crush on Reed, and takes the form of his wife to seduce him into unconsciousness.

Unfortunately for her, Reed is too quick and notices her deception and manages to bend his body away from her taser at the last second. As perceptive as he is, however, he's never been that good of a hand-to-hand fighter and he soon finds himself unconscious with the rest of the Fantastic Four before he can alert the Avengers.

Meanwhile, we find out exactly who the mysterious alien attacker was running from as a Skrull warship enters Earth orbit, hot on her trail.

Scanning the planet for De'Lila, they soon find a plethora of Skrull-like lifeforms centered on a small island in the pacific. Cloaking their ship, they head to the island to investigate. Unfortunately for them, that small island is none other than Monster Island, which they find out the hard way.

It turns out that the monsters of Monster Island all have a primitive Skrull like brain, which was the source of the Skrull life readings. The Skrull in charge seems less concerned about why that is, than with using that fact to his advantage to smoke out De'Lila from hiding. Using neural disruptor darts, they tag each monster and teleport it to various cities around the globe. Using the disruptors to increase the ferocity of the monsters, they hope to drive up the mental stress planet-wide and flush her out.

Little do they know, there's a monarch of Monster Isle...and he's none to happy about the current turn of events.

Still in the form of Sue, De'Lila uses the FF's computers to familiarize herself with Earth's superheroes. Reed's files are complete enough that they allow her to pick and choose among them a group of recruits with which she hopes to achieve her destiny. Using her telepathy she sends a mental summoning out to the four heroes who soon arrive at the door of Four Freedoms Plaza.

The Grey Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider are soon brought in to see "Sue", who tells them the tragic (and altogether false) tale of how she returned home to find her home in ruins and the rest of the Fantasic Four dead or dying. Using one of her husband's inventions, she called to each of them to come to her aid to help avenge the recently deceased members of the Fantastic Four.

By now, the "new" members of the Fantastic Four have fallen for De'Lila's story and agree to help her find the monsters that did this. Playing right into her hand, she arms them with another of Reed's gadgets that will allow them to track down the energy signature of the attackers. Little do they know, the attackers they're being sent to hunt down are the Skrulls that are hunting De'Lila.


This comic was as fun, if not more, than I remember. Maybe it's the fact that there is so little new Marvel that I find readable for three bucks anymore, that I'm starting to get nostalgic for the characters that I grew up with.

Or maybe it's the fact that it's been so long since I enjoyed a good Fantastic Four book, that this issue seems to shine a little brighter. Hell, it's been even longer since I've enjoyed a Wolverine book, that his brief appearance here actually made me miss the old canuck.

Whether it was any of those reasons, or an amalgam of others, this book just pleased me to no end. Even though the Fantastic Four get punked out relatively early in the book, it's got alot of the earmarks that make a great story...Skrulls, Monster Isle, crazy inventions, family drama, space travel, etc...

And speaking of the Skrulls...they're an antagonist I like best when they are played for laughs. They've never been the most dangerous of foes in the FF rogue's gallery, but they are entertaining none the less. The over-the-top inclusion of some of the 90's most overused guest stars let you know right away that this is going to be a fun issue. So with the Skrulls and Mole Man as the villains, we have the perfect blend of absurdity and comedy with which to have a little fun at their own expense.

This is the first part of a three parter, so unfortunately we have to spend most of our time setting things up. Luckily for us, we have Art Adams supplying the pencils for this issue, so even the dialogue heavy pages are fun to look at.

One thing that is distracting about the art, is that the combination of the paper quality and the coloring tended to give this book an over-saturated look on the page. I'd love to see this book recolored using today's technology, as I'm sure it would give Art Adams' beautiful pencils even more attention.

Now we just have to wait for the Randomizer to pick another book from this run, so that we can continue on with one of the best runs from the 90's. In the meantime, I'll be happily looking through some back-issue bins for the issues that I missed.

Holy crap! Simonson had Kang show up during his run?! How the heck did I miss that? Now I'm definitely hitting the comic book store tomorrow.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sea serpents, bullets, and gimmicks!

It's the first of the month, which means a a clean slate of fresh challenges that await us. It's also a Wednesday, which means a clean slate of new books to read. Before we get lost in the ongoing adventures of comic book day, let's take a trip back into the past to see exactly what the kids were reading in Comic Book Days of Wednesdays Past!

We've reset the Randomizer to pick a year from 1938 to 2009, so where's our first stop?


If you were growing up in the early 50's and took your dime to the general store, there's a chance you may have walked out with Out Of The Night #17.

At first, I was worried for Peter Parker on that cover. To begin with, I think he's been slacking on his mythological studies as I don't ever recall Minotaurs ever being drawn as sea serpents.

Secondly, it's a freaking sea serpent! Run!

Third, it's breathing fire! Oops, my bad...that minotaur serpent isn't breathing fire, but being hit by some sort of exploding projectile thrown by our hero.

In that case, I think he gets what he deserves. Anyone walking around an underground labyrinth with flaming projectiles is just itching for a fight, in my opinion.

Let's leave him to his fate and see what year we're off to next.


Yes, when political correctness was just a gleam in society's eye, we had Bulletman #9 on the stands. And really, who better to take on a pack of wild dogs than two heroes modeling themselves after bullets. As outraged as PETA is right about now, I'm sure you could take any cover of Bulletman from this time and make it seem vaguely inappropriate.

It's not as bad as it first looks however, as what I originally mistook for a hail of gunfire surrounding the canine bank robbing gang is just jewels falling from their ill-gotten gain.

Nothing to worry about here after all. Although it does remind me that it's been far too long since I've caught The Doberman Gang on cable t.v. Do they even replay that anymore?

So let's use the power of the Randomizer for good, and pick the next random book from my collection to review. Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Fantastic Four #347 from December 1990, published by Marvel Comics!

Hey, it's our old friends the Fantastic Four! Remember them? They were the star of our very first review here at the Random Longbox, and they've been surprisingly absent in the intervening fifteen months.

Come to think of it, it wasn't even the "real" Fantastic Four as the book that we reviewed fell smack dab into the Heroes Reborn Jim Lee reboot. It's a good thing we get another crack at the FF, with the 616 version of them--

Wait a that Ghost Rider on the cover? And Gray Hulk?

Yes, it's the goofiest line up of the FF ever with Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spider-Man and Wolverine taking over for a couple of issues.

I could feign outrage at Spider-Man and Wolverine being part of the team too, but that argument's getting a little stale. Besides, if I remember correctly this storyline was a parody of sorts of cash-grabbing guest stars that were all the rage at this time, so their inclusion here actually makes sense.

See you in a day or two for the review.