Monday, April 24, 2017
New Teen Titans (vol.2) #48 (September, 1988)
Writer - Marv Wolfman
Penciller - Kelley Jones
Inker - Romeo Tanghal
Letterer - Albert De Guzman
Colorist - Adrienne Roy
Editor - Barbara Randall
Cover Price: $1.75
Remember when Cousin Oliver showed up on The Brady Bunch? Well, the Teen Titans had one'a them too! Today we're going to meet Danny Chase... which reminds me of the only compliment I could ever give Terry Long...
At least he's not Danny Chase.
Let's do it.
We open with the Titans getting their computer system updated by their hippie-dippy IT guy, Peace. It's a pretty strange scene. After tech support heads out, Kory inquires whether she and Dick still have a movie date that evening. Gonna be a Bogart double feature... or a double-Bogey, if you will. The other Titans decide a movie night sounds like a good idea, and before we know it... date night becomes gang's night out. Everyone's down to go except Joey, who has a date, and... oh hell, Danny Chase... who has homework.
Later that night, Danny is bored to tears by his schoolwork and decides to head to bed... where he sits awake for awhile. The full-page spread here is really cool. We get to see some of Danny's comic collection (including an issue of Daredevil! How did that get in here?) along with some assorted comic book related tchotchkes.
Unable to sleep, he rises from bed, pours himself a tall glass of 7-Up, and heads on down to the Titans computer system to see if it has "Archinoid" on it. I'm guessing the poor dork means Arkanoid, but I've been wrong before. Anyhoo, it's a moot point anyway... he logs on and decides that perhaps he ought to check out the "Personal Histories" file, which leads to a book that Jericho is writing about all of the team members. He is startled by Joey's arrival... home early from his date. Danny asks him for some advice, but hasn't a clue how to communicate in ASL. I should mention that it seems as though Danny's not the only person logged into the system right now...
Anyhoo, the fellas turn their attention to the computer... the first history we are about to relive is Jericho's! He hear about the experiment which granted his father, Slade Wilson his powers. Joey's kidnapping, and having his throat slit. It continues, delving into Adeline's later life as the founder of Searchers, Inc. and Joey discovering that he had mutant powers of his own. It's a real quick 'n dirty history... which, is kinda the theme this issue.
As Jericho's story ends, Danny understands that they have a few things in common insofar as where their powers originated from. He also suggests that perhaps Joey fudge the information a bit in case it finds its way into the wrong hands. Prophetic boy, that Danny Chase. Anyhoo, the next history is... ZzzzZzzzZzz... ahem, um... yeah, Raven. It's another quick 'n dirty... her mother Arella was fooled into "getting with" Trigon... Azar trained Raven during her childhood... yadda yadda yadda. Danny thinks it's really cool that she is the daughter of a demon... the C.B.I. files on her were rather lacking in information.
Back in the Tower, Danny mentions that he doesn't think Gar likes him all that much. Couldn't imagine how anyone wouldn't like Danny Chase, but anyhoo... he asks if it's because the last snot-nosed kid to join the team turned out to be a no-good Judas... Joey's all "nope, not having this conversation."
The next history is Vic Stone. He starts off as a gaudily-dressed high school student who falls in with some bad dudes. He managed to leave his gang lifestyle behind, went to college and began training for the Olympics... that is, until there was an accident at his parents' lab.
Next up, Nightwing. Danny actually yawns... he already knows all about Nightwing... except for, ya know... who he is under the mask and all. We get the basic information on Batman and Robin, however, Dick has ensured that all real names were changed in Joey's "history" of him.
After Nightwing comes Starfire! Hers is a story I find kinda dull. Not as boring as Raven's origin, but it's a lotta Space Princess stuff... which really isn't my thing. Titans-in-Space stories are some of my least favorite. Anyhoo, we hear about Kory and her sister Komand'r... their battles, their being used in experiments, all that jazz. I should mention that Danny is quite alert and attentive while watching the Kory bits.
When Starfire's story wraps up, we see that the rest of the Titans have returned for the evening and are watching Danny's lesson in Titans' History.
Our final history is Gar Logan, and we revisit his Doom Patrol origin. His parents, Mark and Marie were researchers, young Gar gets bit by a Green Monkey, and is put under a curative ray... after which, he is able to change his shape. He would be kidnapped by an African Witch Doctor and forced to commit crimes on his behalf. After escaping, he joined the Doom Patrol, where he was adopted by Steve Dayton and Rita Farr. From here he would join several iterations of the Teen Titans.
Danny expresses some regret for busting Gar's chops... even going so far as to say he feels sorry for him. He is unaware that Mr. Logan is within earshot... and he ain't pleased at all by Danny's words. During their argument we can see that the other logged-in party has downloaded all the information they require. Before Gar and Danny can come to blows... the Titans computer, well... blows!
Nightwing calls the team to order and sends them throughout the Tower to see what's going on. It looks as though all of Titan's Tower's tech has gone haywire! Even the T-Jet is spewing fire! The team manages to escape the Tower just as smoke overtakes the place.
We head into the first of two epilogues... in which the hippie-dippy IT guy is taking a look at the Titans' system to see who or what caused the rather sizable hiccup. The Titans turn their back for a moment... and then notice a latex mask of the hippie-dippy IT guy laying on their monitor! There is also a note, informing them that the one behind the tech-attack was the... Wildebeest!
We then head into our second epilogue, in which Danny asks how come there was no Titan History for... uh-oh, Donna Troy! I thought we already got that answer... but it seems, perhaps DC decided to change the question...
Yeah... not feeling this one.
Not only for the inclusion of the completely unlikable Danny Chase, but for just how unnecessary this entire issue feels. I mentioned The Brady Bunch in the preamble, but there's another sitcom similarity we can discuss... the recap episode. This issue served to fill folks in on the origins of each Titan, framed by a snotty little twit perusing and commentating over computer files. If I were reading New Teen Titans back in the Summer of 1988, I'd have felt completely ripped off by this issue.
Not only did it feel like filler... it felt like "off" filler. Like I had to flip back to the title page to make sure Marv Wolfman was listed as writer, because this really doesn't read like his work. It's not bad... it's just "off". Perhaps he was changing his "voice" because much of this issue was supposed to be "written" by Joey... and if that's the case, I'm down with it.
The art here nice, however I never really glommed onto how odd the colors sometimes look on these Baxter paper books. Everything looks quite flat because of it. Throughout this issue, several faces were meant to be shaded, however... the flat coloring made it look almost purposefully ominous when I'm not sure that was ever the intention.
Overall... definitely not my favorite issue of Titans. Seems like the series is trying to find itself at this point... perhaps treading water until issue #50, where Marv and George move the team into their next status quo. I feel bad faulting the book for that, however, if I'm paying $1.75 in 1988, I'm thinking I'd expect a bit more.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Batman (vol.3) #21 (June, 2017)
"The Button, Part One"
Script -Tom King
Pencils & Inks - Jason Fabok
Colors - Brad Anderson
Letters - Deron Bennett
Associate Editor - Rebecca Taylor
Editor - Mark Doyle
Cover Price: $2.99
Hard to believe it's almost been a year since we saw Batman find that bloody button in the Batcave. I don't think any of us saw that coming... and I doubt if anyone had any idea where it was headed.
Looks like we're about to find out.
Should go without saying what follows the double-dashes is gonna be SPOILERY.
Our story opens with some Arkham Asylum inmates gathered around a television about to enjoy a hockey game between the Gotham Blades and the Metropolis Mammoths. A blonde inmate, who is probably Saturn Girl, begins to panic... something is coming, and nothing can stop it. Everyone will die, including... the Legion? We shift scenes to the Batcave, where it looks like Batman is finally about to start looking into the Comedian's button.
He's also watching the same Gotham/Metropolis hockey game on one of his monitors... a fight breaks out, and it is pretty intense! Lotsa blood on the ice. He sets the button down on his console right next to the mask of the Psycho Pirate... and there is some electrical reaction between the two. It causes Batman to fall back, and when his fog clears, for a brief moment he sees his father... from the Flashpoint Universe!
Batman decides to contact the Flash to further discuss the button. Barry tells Bruce that he's currently engaged, but he'll be there in about a minute. Three seconds later, an altogether different Flash appears before Batman.
The Reverse-Flash introduces himself... then proceeds to spend the next several seconds beating the holy hell out of the Batman. Like, really and truly... beating the hell out of him. With Bruce on the ground, Thawne finds the note Flashpoint-Thomas wrote to Rebirth-Bruce. He laughs... and gleefully tears it to bits.
As one might imagine, Batman doesn't really appreciate that... and so, he decides to start fighting back. Initially, it's futile... Thawne's vibrations don't allow him to be touched. Batman figures out a "work around" by plunging a batarang into the baddie's foot.
From here the fight is a bit more even, but Reverse-Flash still has the upper hand. Batman finally slumps to the ground, at the very moment Barry Allen was to arrive. Thawne picks up the Comedian's button... and blinks out of view for a moment. Upon return, he proclaims that he'd seen God... all they while, his body degenerates.
The chapter ends with Barry Allen arriving at the Batcave. He apologizes for his tardiness, and explains that the hockey fight ended in a fatality. He is shocked to find the battered bodies of Batman and Thawne on the ground.
Well, hell... yeah, this felt pretty big, didn't it?
I gotta say, between The Button and Superman Reborn, DC has been bringing it with the "event" feel. I only wish there was more to read here... but, if the worst thing I can say about a book is that I can't wait to read the next chapter... we're doing pretty good, right?
This really felt like a proper follow-up to DC Universe Rebirth #1. I will say that I was a bit trepidacious when this was announced without Geoff Johns in the writer's chair... but Tom King knocked this out of the park. Jason Fabok... well, this dude's just a treasure. Absolutely excellent work here.
When I started reading this today, I really wasn't sure if I was gonna dig the "one-minute" gimmick... but it totally worked. It added a sense of urgency to the thing, and also served the nine-panel grid they were going with here. I suppose if we're gonna play with the Watchmen, we oughta go all the way, right?
The use of the Psycho Pirate mask was a neat touch. Back in Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, the Pirate was institutionalized in Arkham because he could still remember the multiverse/pre-Crisis DC Universe. So, if this story sets to weave disparate eras of DC Continuity together... or at least make them flow in an easy to swallow kinda way, it makes sense that the Medusa Mask would cause a reaction with the Comedian's Button. At least it makes sense to me...
The use of Reverse-Flash feels like a way to help link Flashpoint into the mix, which is fair enough to me. The next-issue blurb promises to reveal who killed Thawne, so I gotta wonder if we're gonna be seeing a whole lotta blue skin in the next few weeks!
Overall, if you read DC Comics, there's no reason why you wouldn't pick this up. This is the first week in I-don't-know-how-long that one of the Superman books wasn't on the tip-top of my reading pile... and after reading this, I think I can safely say that The Button will be the first book I read every week for the next few.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
New Adventures of Superboy #1 (January, 1980)
"The Most Important Year of Superboy's Life!"
Writer - Cary Bates
Penciller - Kurt Schaffenberger
Inker - David Hunt
Colorist - Gene D'Angelo
Letterer - Ben Oda
Editor - Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.40
Super-short preamble today... I'm about shoulders deep in my final research paper. I'm calling it my "Chrissertation" much to the annoyance of my wife.
Onward to Superboy's birthday! Looks awfully warm in Smallville for February 29th, don't it?
We open as sixteen-year old Clark Kent smugly stands next to his birthday cake ready to blow out the candles. Lana asks why Clark's cake has 17 candles on it when he's only 16. I guess she's never heard of "one for good luck", eh? He isn't sure either, and just says adding an extra candle is something Ma and Pa have done since his eighth birthday. This leads us into a flashback... to Clark's eighth birthday, back when Ma and Pa were much... older. A helpful footnote informs us that this occurred before they were rejuvenated by some chemical.
This is right around the time that Clark made his first public appearance as Superboy... which surprised me a bit. I always thought he was an early teen, however here, he's barely eight!
As he flies over Smallville, he notices an airplane in an apparent nosedive... and so, he heads in to help out. Turns out, this plane was barreling toward the ground on purpose... it's the Flying Aces Stunt-Pilot Show! Man, Smallville's got everything! Superboy takes the opportunity to do some aerial hot-doggin' himself.
After getting his fill of oohs and ahhs, Superboy retreats. Unfortunately, he winds up in the path of a strange purple spaceship. He is struck by a beam and pulled on board. He wakes up in a room and is addressed by a pair of speakers. They promise the boy they mean him no harm... and they just want to study him. Likely story, right? Superboy's all "screw this" and escapes with ease.
Back at the Kent home later on that evening, the family settles in for a birthday tradition... home movies! Clark is bored out of his mind... but plays along anyway, and it's a good thing he does... because their flick is interrupted by the same alien spacecraft he'd escaped from earlier that day!
During the interruption, we learn the origin of Myla and Byrn... two survivors of a fallen race of cat-cheeked creatures. As they escaped their radiation-pummeled planet, they took a plague serum. This serum doesn't just cure them... it activates bio-chemicals in their advanced brains which grants them immortality! The immortality was only supposed to last during the healing process, however, at this point... their brains will not allow them to age or die!
Their story continues... their craft wandered through space for several million years, until one day... they saw a tiny rocketship aimed toward the Earth. Any guesses who might have been on board?
The aliens then beam themselves into the Kent living room, where they give Superboy a bit of a sales pitch. They wish to trade in their eternal lives, by (somehow) transferring his aging factor into them... and their immortality into him. Ay yai yai. Plan B is just as dumb, and concerns giving Superboy everlasting youth... so he'll forever be eight. Jon and Martha really ain't keen on the thought, but Superboy kinda mulls it over.
Byrn hands Superboy a strange-looking laser syringe thing... and he takes off to weigh his options. The aliens beam their monitoring system onto the projector screen, and they watch Superboy make his decision... the extraction occurs, and it looks as though Superboy is going to be immortal!
He returns home to share the news of his decision, but they already know. The aliens thank him up and down, and before taking their leave, induces selective memory-loss on the boy so he'll never regret his decision. Once the Kents are alone, Superboy informs his parents that everything they saw on the screen, didn't quite happen the way it looked.
It turns out, Clark negated the extractor beam with his own heat vision... giving the impression that the aliens were no longer immortal. He then uses his telescopic vision... well, it would've probably been "telescopic vision" in the Silver Age, here it's just Super-Vision... anyhoo... he uses that to take a look at Byrn and Myla... who have already started to age. The placebo is in effect.
We wrap up with Jon and Martha vowing to put an extra candle on his birthday cake every year as their "secret token of thanks" that their boy won't be an eternal eight-year-old.
Hey, this was a fun little issue. Not sure how I feel about it for a series-launching #1, but dug it well enough.
I mentioned above that I was surprised to see Superboy "in action" at such a young age. I really thought he was a teen/pre-teen, wasn't expecting him to be in the single-digits, age-wise. Granted, my Superboy is Kon-El, and he was always depicted to be a teenager. Might just be a bit of Superboy-transference on my end.
Another thing, and it's silly... if I see a birthday cake with an extra candle on it... I'm thinkin' "one for good luck" or "one to grow on"... I would never expect a huge story (featuring immortal aliens, no less) to explain it! Like I said, it's silly... and I'm just having fun with it. Gotta wonder why Lana would ask though... or why she'd count 'em! The best case scenario, she makes it look as though Ma Kent doesn't know how to count! Okay okay, enough candle talk.
The immortality swap deal was totally ridiculous. Gotta have brass ones to ask an eight year old if they wanna either live forever, or remain the same age forever. Luckily, they didn't ask just any eight year old. Superboy shows he's wise beyond his years by understanding the potential psychosomatic nature of Byrn and Myra's immortality. Getting to the root of the "mind over matter", he was able to end the aliens' suffering without risking himself.
Some of the neatest stuff in this book is in the 35 Years of Superboy text piece (below, click to enlarge). I never knew that the first issue of Superboy had him (mistakenly) growing up in Metropolis! Lotsa great info here, always enjoy reading the history of characters and properties. This piece is well worth a read.
Heck, the whole package is worth reading. It's a bit corny, sure... but for a Bronze Age approximation of Silver, this was a lot of fun. It doesn't look like this has been collected, or made available digitally as of this writing, but shouldn't be too terribly difficult to find, nor too spendy when ya do.
(Not the) Letters Page: