Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bionicle #1 (2001)

Bionicle #1 (June, 2001)
"The Coming of the Toa"
Writer - Greg Farshtey
Penciller - Carlos D'Anda
Inker - Richard Bennett
Colorist - Alex Sinclair
Cover Price: $2.25

Today's post is a special one.  Not so much for the content, but for the fact that this is my first sorta-kinda blogger team-up.  Good buddy Mike Carlyle over at The Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu is also running a Bionicle piece today!  The main difference is that his is quite a lot more fun to read than mine, so definitely check his out!


It's daybreak on a desolate beach.  A pod begins stirring with a hiss of steam and an electronic current before cracking open.  A white-masked robot emerges from the wreckage, holding a sword and shield.  It is on this island for a reason, it is here to dispense justice!

Working it's way deeper inland, our robotic bud notices he's (I think I'm just gonna say "he") being watched.  The observer is a more diminutive robot, who upon discovery attempts to flee.  He is unsuccessful due to the icy ground... wait, I thought we were on a beach?  Okay, no matter... I'll just assume he's been walking a real long time.

The observer introduces itself as Matoro, he claims to be a Tohunga and tells our main bot he is currently on the island of Mata Nui.  Matoro has long awaited this arrival, and also claims that there are "others" and the Kanohi "masks of power".

Our bot, who is still unnamed, asks where he may find these masks of power.  Matoro explains that they are scattered and guarded by Nightmare Creatures.  He continues by claiming that village elder Turaga Nuju knows the whereabouts of the Mask of Shielding.

They reach a large chasm where a bridge will someday be.  As they look on, a Green robot smashes into them knocking them into the fissure.  Matoro refers to our white-masked friend as Kopaka, so I suppose at some point off-panel they shared a bit of introductory pleasantries.  As they descend, a blast from Kopaka ensures their safe landing.  The Green creature is referred to as one of the Nui Rama.

On solid ground, our robo-duo run into village elder, Turaga.  He claims to know who and what Kopaka is.  Kopaka  being the Toa of Ice apparently wields the power of winter itself!  A threat is introduced in the evil Makuta, and we are given a link where we can receive a crash course in Nuju-speak (which as of this writing is a redirect to the main Lego Bionicle homepage).

As they continue their discussion, an avalanche occurs.  Kopaka finds that he has been buried by the Toa of Stone, Pohatu.  The two share a contentious introduction, and begin to scale a mountain.  Pohatu asks if Kopaka would be down for a team-up, to which 'pak says he "works alone".

Upon reaching the top, the two find they are not alone.  There are four colorful Toa-lookin' bots awaiting their arrival...


Mike and I have been trying to coordinate something of a partnered post for the past few weeks now.  When I found out that he was going to run a Bionicle piece, I jumped at the opportunity to take part.  I knew I had at least one issue of this series, the first issue was a giveaway, right?



Ri--... What?  I PAID for this thing?  This was from a time before I discovered the magic of the quarter-bin... and from a time where I was, err... I think the scientific term is "willy nilly" with my money.  I cannot believe I plunked down two-and-a-quarter (plus tax) for this thing.  But sadly... I'm sure I did.  I was an easy mark back in the day.

In fact, I would pretty much just buy whatever the shop owner threw in my box.  I was of the mind that he was actually making suggestions, rather than throwing whatever he ordered too much of into subscription boxes in hopes that the box-holder would A) Not notice, B) Decide to try it out, or C) (C is for Chris here) Would feel a bit too guilty about putting it back on the shelf, and just sucking it up and buying it.  I have quite the collection of turn-of-the-century garbage that I felt too guilty about leaving behind, lemme tell ya.

Anyhoo... thoughts.  This was one of the more uninviting first-issues I've ever read.  Every panel appeared to be an expository info-dump full of Bionicle-speak-lingo.  I haven't been this confused by an in-story language since the first time I fired up Final Fantasy XIII.  What's a Toa?  Who or what is a Makuta?  Is Turaga a name, or a type of bot?  It's just too much... I have all of these questions, yet I'm still not interested enough to pursue the answers.

The art is nice, though somewhat hard to follow at times.  The main two robots we follow are the same color, and during action scenes it is somewhat difficult to tell them apart.  The rescue scene prior to the chasm incident is especially difficult to follow... the bots looked, for lack of a better term, squiggly.

This would likely be something of a treat for someone who also collected the toys, however, for a simple comic book guy like myself... it's no fun at all.

For some actual fun, make sure to check out Mike's take on Bionicle #21 from the Metru Nui saga (November, 2004).

Live today from the Crapbox of Son of Cthluhu!


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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hero Hotline #3 (1989)

Hero Hotline #3 (June, 1989)
Writer & Colorist - Bob Rozakis
Artist - Stephen DeStefano
Inker - Kurt Schaffenberger
Letterer - John Costanza
Editor - Brian Augustyn
Cover Price: $1.75

Today's post is a special one.  Thus far in my blogging career, all of my subjects have been one (or two) and done.  I've always felt that I don't have the stamina (or creative enough writing style) to do a full-blown series.  My mind begins to wander, and I feel as though I'm repeating myself.  Hell, even without revisiting series' I feel as though I'm repeating myself.

This is the first time I've made it to the third issue of anything for a discussion and review-type post.  I always find myself rather envious of my fellow bloggers who can stick with one topic, and actually see it through to the end while keeping their take interesting and entertaining.  One such blogger that I very much enjoy is Dan Reilly over at The Crabby Reviewer who has, since early February maintained a wonderfully interesting (and totally recommended) marathon of the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Battleworld Box Set.  I've followed along (and loved) the entire ride thus far, and I salute your efforts, Dan!  You've inspired me to actually see a few miniseries through to their end here on the blog, including the one we'll be discussing today!


Previous Chapters: #1, #2

School's out, so Microwave Mom has to drag her kids to the office.  The Coordinator decides to put her on desk duty this day, and also asks that she show new recruit Lightning Eyes around the office.  I wonder what his power may be?

Lightning Eyes: Probably shoots lightning from his eyes, right?

A week has gone by since our last visit with the team, and in that time Voice-Over's missing septuagenarian has still not been found.  The Coordinator sends V-O and Private-Eyes (... and Fred) back to the Culligan home to see what's what.

As they leave, we find Mister Muscle taking a phone call.  It appears as though the abusive husband he tangled with back in the opening chapter is challenging him to a fight.  Mom brings Lightning Eyes over for an intro, and we are informed that our strongman is going by Mighty Mike this week.

Fresh off capturing the Comedian from Watchmen's button-given flesh, Diamondette is also fielding a phone call.  It is Geraldo Riv... er, Alberto Rosario.  He wants to use her power to open Al Capo... err... Pandora's Box live on television.  She gets the a-okay from the Coordinator and heads out.

SOOZ scoots up to our man Stretch, and wouldn'tcha know it... there's another cat in a tree.  Poor guy can't catch a break.

V-O and company arrive at the Culligan home only to find it completely ransacked.  Private-Eyes finds some curious sediment on the carpet and patches SOOZ in for an ID.  These particles just happen to originate in a "basement environment".  Eye's decides to employ his x-ray vision and... well... look down.  Much to his surprise, Mrs. Culligan is in fact sitting in the basement

Voice-Over lambastes our invisible friend, Fred for not checking there earlier.  Fred's excuse is that the door was locked.  When asked why he didn't just walk through the wall, Fred reminds them the he may be invisible... but he ain't intangible.  V-O pops on his microphone and loud speaker and uses some super-shoutin'-action to rattle the knob off the door.

As our heroes reach the bottom of the stairs, they hear voices coming from upstairs.  The fellas hide and watch as two women dressed as Martians descent down the steps.  They approach the old woman and... well, try to shake her down for cash.

Voice-Over won't go for that, so he throws his voice acting as though he were an alien from Jupiter.  The women panic and attempt to make their leave, running into Private-Goo-Goo-Googly-Eyes on their way out.  V-O "rescues" the old woman who, thinking she is currently on Mars, is rather puzzled.  Case closed.

Stretch has arrived at the Burlington-Grimes... err, Grimes-Burlington estate to rescue their poor Truffles from a tree.  When he stretches his neck, he finds not only the kitty, but young boy Maximilan as well.  He rescues them both, to the absolute indifference of the wealthy broad.

Next... Live on Alberto, Diamondette is attempting to open Pandora's Box.  Just as she is about to unleash some evil on the world, the network cuts away for a GBS News Bulletin.

At the stock exchange there's an odd figure causing all sorts of commotion and chaos.  It is Bartholomew Higgins, otherwise known as SNAFU (situation normal all FOULED up, thankyouverymuch)... remember him from the text piece in Issue #1?  Me neither.  SOOZ sounds out a red alert, and sends all available team members to the stock exchange.

Once there, many of our team members find themselves caught up in the chaos.  Poor Stretch is so freaked out he's begging to rescue cats from trees!  Private-Eyes is dropped at the door, the chaos powers far too strong for his senses.  In all the psychodelicosity (for lack of a better term, of course), Hot Shot and Mighty Mike provide a distraction, and my main man Voice-Over gives Snafu a sound-blast to the back of the head.

Back on the Alberto show... Pandora's box appears to have been empty the whole time... wah wah wahhhhh.

As the team returns to HQ we again meet the buxom Miss (Melanie) Boulder.  She is worried sick over Private-Eyes being kayoed by Snafu.  Turns out his eyeballs got a bit fried, but he'll be okay... he's taking the rest of the day off though.  Stretch receives another trouble call... this time, it's not a cat up a tree... it's a young child who got stuck in a well.  Wow, this really is a 1980's book.

Stretch doesn't even leave the office, he simply... stretches his arm all the way out to the well and rescues the child.  He then berates the child's parents, the newscaster and the lookers-on.  He has clearly had enough crap this fine day... he too, is taking the rest of the day off.

Poor Voice-Over lost his voice after the Snafu fight (though, invisible Fred can still speak... interesting)... guess what?  He's taking the rest of the day off as well.

As the day draws to a close, Microwave Mom and Lightning Eyes put on their coats and start to head out.  Mom mentions that she was surprised that the Coordinator didn't send the "new guy" out in the field in light of their short staff.  Well, it turns out Lightning Eyes' superpower is his speed-reading ability.

We now follow Mighty Mike out to his fight.  He dons his freshest Zubaz and beret, and hits the street.  In the darkness, a wrench is swung.  Our man snatches it away handily, and the perpetrator flees.

Our tale ends with the Hero Hotline call center receiving a call about a murder... and we are [to be continued...]

Following the story, we find another interesting text piece:


How is it that in the past few years we've seen a revival of Prez and the freakin' Green Team, but not the Hero Hotline?  If ever there was a time where some Bob Ro magic could have been of use was in the post-Flashpoint DC Universe.  DCYou needed 'Mazing Man and the Hero Hotline!

Hero Hotline continues to be almost too fun.  We're at the halfway point, and I'm afraid I may be forming an unhealthy attachment to our cast.  This was a highly entertaining chapter, providing closure on some old (no pun intended) cases, and adding new layers to others.

I am curious if Private-Eyes' injury will be followed up on, or given the somewhat episodic nature of this title, not mentioned in the remaining issues.  The one character I really didn't care for in the opening chapter is rapidly becoming a favorite... Stretch's entire entanglement (again... no pun intended) with the Hotline is becoming quite engaging.  Why does he still do what he does here?  He is clearly unhappy... and is quickly wearing away at whatever "fuse" he may have had.  Does he owe the Coordinator anything?  Is it about his family?  Am I putting more thought into this than perhaps the writer did?  I don't know... but, I'm looking forward to finding out.

This book is an absolute treat.  Still recommended... grab it if you can find it.


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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Green Lantern: Mosaic #2 (1992)

Green Lantern: Mosaic #2 (July, 1992)
Writer - Gerard Jones
Penciller - Cully Hamner
Inker - Dan Panosian
Letterer - Albert DeGuzman
Colorist - Steve Mattsson
Editor - Kevin Dooley
Cover Price: $1.25

This past weekend I decided to go through some of my first few blog posts... from when I thought I'd only have a few blog posts before getting distracted by something shiny and abandoning this place.  I guess when I wrote my earliest posts, I was unaware that my phone had a camera equipped... with which I could actually post pictures on this here blog.  These posts looked barren and uninviting (or at least more uninviting than my current stuff)... I decided to (start to) remedy that.

The first review I "brightened up" was Green Lantern: Mosaic #1... I found myself flipping through, and actually rereading the issue again... and, really really enjoying it.  This begged the question, why hadn't I continued down the Mosaic rabbit hole?  I guess today I (start to) remedy that.


If you need to catch up, Green Lantern: Mosaic #1 is right here (now with pictures!).

We open on a rather disturbing scene in which several squirrels are embroiled in cannibalistic combat.  Mouths are wet with froth and blood while former Green Lantern Ch'p slumbers the winter away.

At that moment, the Mosaic's main-man, John Stewart is stirred from his own rest.  His mind is preoccupied with concern over his proposed road project on this patchwork planet.  Despite his best efforts to fall back to sleep, Stewart relents and decides to visit the road.

John arrives just as a ledger truck is about to careen off into a fissure left in the road.  John observes that there is not currently a creature powerful enough (at least not on Oa) to wreck such havoc on this arterial avenue.  John bathes the truck in green energy and saves both its driver and cargo from plummeting.

Back with Ch'p, hibernation has come to an end.  He describes his tree-mates as being in "nut-frenzy", they have just woken up and "stink of hunger".  Ch'p suddenly remembers the life he'd left behind as a heroic Green Lantern and leaves.

Outside on the bare-treed snow-covered landscape he comes across former comrade in arms, Salaak.  Salaak appears to be in a meditative state, he is however responsive to Ch'p's inquiries.  He too remembers their time as Lanterns, though he would rather he didn't.  Ch'p shares that he had charged his ring for the first time since the Corps. disbanded, and when he did he saw New Lanterns.

Back on Oa, John is visually auditing the amount of damage the road had received when he is suddenly joined by a pair of old friends.  Ch'p is delighted that John recognizes them, and they return to his home to catch up.

Ch'p asks why he was suddenly seeing new Green Lanterns.  John fills him in on recent happenings concerning Hal Jordan's New Corps.  Ch'p is saddened that Hal did not make any attempt to recruit him, and questions whether or not he still has any value.

John offers Ch'p a job helping him on the Mosaic world as a monitor of the road.  He explains that the road is a vital artery for the world, as it will create consumption communities that will link the disparate inhabitants in a web of economic interdependence.  Following their talk, a yellow ledger truck comes barreling down the road, narrowly missing our man Ch'p.

We now join Ch'p on his patrol.  He watches as a large portion of overpass that get blown up real good.  As he approaches to survey the damage he is blasted with a bolt of red energy.  When he recovers he finds himself facing a large red energy creature.  Pelting it with Lantern energy proves fruitless, the being simply laughs and appears to absorb it while splitting off into a second green form.  Ch'p is deeply disturbed by what he then sees.

Nearby, John wakes up in a panic.  Feeling that something is wrong he rushes to Ch'p's aid.  After arriving, he finds Ch'p in an almost catatonic state.  He is unable to answer any of John's questions.  He begins to panic, and throws himself in front of an oncoming truck.

As he lay dying, he shares with John that he saw something... something, RED.

John agonizes over how death always seems to follow him before turning to us... yes, us.  He pleads with us to tell him what we saw... what we know as this chapter fades to black.


Another wonderful, terrible, disturbing visit to John Stewart's patchwork Oa.  This is almost a magical series... There is no point in reading this issue where I felt comfortable.  This is nearly a quarter-century old, and I've read it many times... yet it still has the ability to bring me in, and keep me somewhat on edge.

Mosaic is quite likely my favorite Gerard Jones work.  This is just such an amazing, beautiful, and ugly world he is crafting.  His John Stewart is so well done.  He is perhaps the most powerful being currently on Oa, yet he is also the most vulnerable.  His (slipping?) sanity is another wonder to behold.  Not since Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man have I felt as though I was being spoken to by a comic book character... and in Morrison's run it felt like a more meta-commentary than anything.  Here... John Stewart may literally be losing his mind... and it's so much fun to watch!

Cully Hamner's art may just be the most appropriate for this issue (and series).  Somewhat angular and abstract, this style fits the narrative to a "T".  There is something almost disturbing about it, it suits the mood just so well.

Watching Ch'p go from scorned former ally, to embracing his newly-inherited responsibilities... to his ultimate fate was an amazing character study.  All Ch'p wanted to do was make a difference... to prove his worth.  For him to throw his life away out of fear really speaks to the unspeakable terror that our pending threat brings with it.  I don't have much of a history with our main man Ch'p, however, I can appreciate how powerful and disturbing this scene (hell, whole issue) must have been to those who did.  So well done!

This was an excellent issue... in an amazing series.  Even if you have zero interest in the Green Lantern Corps., this is a book you should check out.  It is, as I sometimes say... just that good.


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