Monday, October 31, 2016

Action Comics #531 (1982)

Action Comics #531 (May, 1982)
"The Devil... and The Daily Planet!"
"no time off for Heroes!"
Writers - Marv Wolfman & Bob Rozakis
Pencillers - Joe Staton & Alex Saviuk
Inkers - Frank McLaughlin & Vince Colletta
Letterers - Ben Oda & Shelly Leferman
Colorists - Gene D'Angelo & Tom Ziuko
Editor - Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.60

Heyyy, Happy Halloween!

I was originally going to close out this horror-ible month with a comic that featured one of the few things on this planet that scares the bejeezus out of me.  Not the taxman, not even morning traffic... cannibals!  Was going to cover a mid-nineties Vertigo one-shot featuring a family of travelling cannibals.  Well, that got pretty grim... pretty fast, and I didn't wanna wrap up our Boo Haunted Blog special with anything too heavy... so I decided to go back to old reliable Action Comics.


We open in the midst of an afternoon meeting at The Daily Planet offices in the Galaxy Building.  The deal is, Morgan Edge has decided to sell the flagging paper to the President of Maxman Publishing, Mort Waxman.  He believes that nobody reads the paper anymore because it's got too much "news" and not enough "sexy secrets".  If it were up to him... and it soon will be, headlines like "Superman Captures Brainiac" would be replaced by "Superman's Six Sexy Secrets".  Ooh la la.  Anyhoo, the meeting is adjourned, and at the same time a strange ethereal fog fills the subbasement... which houses the Planet's printing presses.

Our favorite gang of newsfolk hop in the elevator and head down to the lobby.  There's something amiss in the electrics, and the elevator jams for a bit.  When it starts up again, it bypasses the lobby and deposits them into the Records Room below.  Gotta figure there's oodles of microfiche stashed down there!  Jimmy notices a framed copy of the first edition of The Daily Planet, and brings attention to the printer's apprentice, Jeremiah Odets who is notable for writing the first Planet headline... and for dying on the job when a paper roll made him all flat.

We shift back upstairs and find Morgan Edge and Mort Waxman having similar elevator woes, before returning to the gang.  They are confronted by a ghost who informs them that the "Planet will never die".  Back upstairs, Edge and Waxman start on their eight-story trek down the stairs when they too find themselves before the same apparition.  It isn't long before the bosses meet the staffers down below.

Lois and Clark start chatting.  Lois asks Clark why he always acts so cowardly... because, she happens to know that deep down, he's not.  She asks him what his secret is... however, before he can answer... a Frankenstein-esque monster arrives on the scene.  Lois is quickly kayoed... or faints, it's not clear which.  Using the sudden privacy to his advantage, Clark changes into his "work clothes".  The monster turns his attention to the Man of Steel, and performs a mighty hand-clap which sends him flying.  Superman concludes that this Frankenstein must have powers based in magic.

We shift to Jimmy and Perry who are having a conversation about just what the paper means to them, taking into consideration their disparate generations.  They hear a cry... or a moan... and head off to check it out.  What they discover is a beautiful woman.

They are then swarmed by demons!

Superman is back in action, and is taking in all of the strange events occurring.  A plume of smoke begins curling around him.  He fights it for a moment, but decides perhaps his best bet would be in allowing it to carry him away.  After his "flight", his mind is left at ease.  He recognizes all of the critters as fictional characters from gothic literature.  He deduces that they are not there to hurt the Planet staffers... they are instead, there as a presentation for Mr. Waxman.

Well, Waxman ain't buying it... because he's an ass.  Even though he sees all this supernatural hooptydoo, he's still all about that sweet cash.  The monsters vanish... only to be replaced by a ghostly form of a young man.  The ghost apologizes for frightening them before turning his attention to Waxman... a man with a soul corrupted by greed.  He threatens to keep rising from the grave if Waxman spoils The Daily Planet... and the rotund baddie promises to leave and never come back.  Well, that was easy!

The ghost boy leaves... and suddenly Waxman is ready to talk business once more.  It is left to Morgan Edge of all people to tell ol' Mort to shove off once and for all.

The story wraps up with a printer delivering a "tear sheet" that had just come off the presses... and he wanted to know who printed it.  The headlines reads "Daily Planet Saved" and the byline reads Jeremiah Odets!

Our backup story stars the Atom, Ray Palmer.  We open as he and his wife Jean Loring are boating off the shores of Curacao.  Ray mentions that Aquaman had just left... and suddenly a whirlpool forms below them.  Ray is knocked into the water where he comes face to face with a bunch of glowing miniature nuclear reactions.

The whirlpool disperses, and Ray rises to the surface.  He hops back on the boat, and shortly he and the Mrs. arrive at their island destination.  After they come ashore, Green Lantern zaps their boat away for safe keeping.  We learn that the Palmers are here to attend a Nuclear Physicist Convention of some sort... though Jean would much rather spend her time shopping.

The Palmers run into Ray's friends the Nardellos.  Here we get a shocking twist... or at least it's treated like one... It's Mrs. Madeline Nardello who's the brains of that family.

The couple heads to the floating bridge "Queen Emma", where they find themselves in the midst of a police action.  A pair of thieves run off with a dufflebag, and so Ray "Atoms" up to give chase.  He asks an officer to throw him at the crooks... and so he does.

After taking care of business, Ray opens the bag... only to find it's storing a nuclear device!  What's more... it's been activated!  Uh-oh.


This was a pretty good time.  Not socks-rocking or anything, but decent enough.  I can definitely see how folks were getting bored of Superman comics during this era, however, there is a certain novelty to reading them after growing up post-Crisis.

That said... it was pretty much a nothing story.  The ghost of an original Planet staffer haunts the joint to stop a takeover from a man wanting to report dirt and sensationalism rather than actual news... so, he kinda wanted to make it into what news sources turned into anyway.  Ol' Waxman was truly ahead of his time!

That was pretty much it, however.  Nothing special... felt like pure "can fit in anywhere" time-filler/killer.  I will say it was interesting to see Morgan Edge being a "good guy" here.  That isn't something I expected, though it was a welcome element.

The Atom backup story was another... "just kinda there" story.  Not offensively bad nor notably good.  I guess it was cool that it was a story featuring a different hero, rather than the inventory-seeming Superman shorties that usually wrap up issues of Action Comics and Superman of this era.


Letters Page:


Interesting Ads:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Batman: Dark Victory #0 (1999)

Batman: Dark Victory #0 (1999)
Writer - Jeph Loeb
Artist - Tim Sale
Letterer - Richard Starkings
Colorist - Gregory Wright
Separations - Heroic Age
Editor - Mark Chiarello
Inspiration - Archie Goodwin

I had to wait a bit to do this one.  Was finally able to tunnel to the long box it was kept in.  After sending a canary* into my library and having it return alive, I figured it was safe enough to hop in myself.

What I wasn't prepared for was this being so short!  I thought it would was a full-length story... but I guess I was wrong.  Anyhoo, after the effort put forth in digging this one out, I feel like I kinda have to cover it here, despite its brevity... and for it not having much (if anything) to do with the Boo Haunted Blog theme.  Must've confused this with something else...

*No canaries were harmed in the procurement of this issue... I, however, stubbed my toe.

... but, before we get to the book, I do have an anecdote about this one.  This special issue was included with an issue of Wizard Magazine.  I bit of research reveals that it was Wizard Magazine #97 (September, 1999).  Now, Wizard was a pretty big part of my comics adolescence... having launched in 1991, when I was 11 years old... I feel like I was pretty much the target audience for a book of this sort... especially as it devolved into frat-boy "humor" in lieu of actual comics coverage.

When this issue arrived, though I couldn't place much insofar as time of year or what else I was buying... I remember an, I wanna say "older fan"... but if I think about it too hard, I'll probably come to the grim realization that he was probably younger than I am now... anyhoo, he bought this issue as well, and was vocally annoyed at the fact he had to buy an issue of Wizard to get the bridging chapter between Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory.  Dude just wouldn't pipe down about it... and when he got to paying (I was behind him), he started laying into the poor clerk.  The clerk tried playing it off, and told him it came with a "free comic", but he wasn't having it... the fella said it was a $5 comic that came with a P.O.S. Magazine.

Anyhoo... long story... long, he pays for it... tears open the polybag, and tosses the Wizard Mag at the clerk before walking out with his slim "freebie" bat-comic.  It makes me wonder how many other fans did such a thing.  I know by 1999, Wizard's cache and reputation was kinda "iffy", even among fans of my "vintage"... couldn't imagine older professional types being pleased with having to actually buy/own an issue of Wizard to get a copy of a comic they wanted to read.  Wizard also had many mail-order "#1/2" (that's number one-half) issues, where you would have to pull an envelope out of the middle of the issue and send it in.  Gotta wonder how many non-Wizard readers had to actually buy a copy so they can send away for their Flash #1/2, or Ultimate Spider-Man #1/2.  Anyhoo, just something that makes me wonder sometimes... On with the spoilery-synopsis.


We open with the proclamation "Alberto Falcone was Holiday".  During The Longest Halloween, Batman was tracking a killer who only struck on Holidays.  It was suspected that Harvey Dent was the man behind the serial killings... this is pre-Two-Face.  We are treated to the... extremely violent ways in which Batman deals with Holiday, including crushing his right hand and beating him bloody.  This string of killings cost the life of Crime Lord, and Holiday's father Carmine "The Roman" Falcone... and the humanity of Harvey Dent.

We shift scenes to the new District Attorney Janice Porter as she visits Arkham Asylum to interview Holiday.  He's depicted as a meek individual.  He had been able to side-step the gas chamber, having recently been declared legally insane.  He now stays at Arkham in an attempt at rehabilitation.

Porter asks him questions... however, not about is actions.  Instead she asks about the beating he'd taken from the Batman.  He reveals that he still has no feeling in his right arm, and if the art is to be believed, it is nothing more than a gnarled stump at this point.  She promises to do anything in her power to ensure justice is done.

As she begins to leave, Falcone stops her.  He states that he is truly remorseful for what he had done the year prior.  I guess that makes it all okay, right?  Across the way, Julian Day... the Calendar Man is in his own cell.  He apologizes too... but for what, I don't know/remember.

Porter later arrives at the office of GCPD Commissioner James Gordon.  It is clear that their relationship is pretty contentious.  She informs him that she might just be reopening the Falcone case... which raises his ire just a bit.  She believes that his civil rights were violated when he was "brought in" by the Batman... a situation that Gordon stood by and allowed to happen.

She leaves, and we see a familiar shadow appear by the window.  Gordon apologizes to Batman, and says he may not be able to "protect" him on this one.  Protect Batman?  Gord, please... he doesn't need that.

Having had to deal with D.A. Porter reminds Gordon that the old D.A. was his (and Batman's) friend, Harvey Dent.  He recalls all the good times they'd had... and how close they were.  During his rant, Batman disappears... as he's wont to do.  We close out with Gordon sitting alone in his office as a torrent of rain pelts at his windows.


Now... this was great.  Perfect way to whet your appetite if you were waiting for Dark Victory to start up.  This ties up some of the loose ends from The Long Halloween, and puts many of the pieces into place for the next chapter to begin.  The writing and art are top notch, as to be expected from this creative team.  My only complaint... if you can call it that... is its length.  I'd have loved a few more pages of this... I mean, I've got the hardcover upstairs... but putting myself into the gestalt of it all, I would've really enjoyed a bit more here.

This issue calls into question how a vigilante may dispense justice without violating human or civil rights.  It's a rather meaty thing to undertake... and proves to be a rather slippery slope.  I hate using the term "slippery slope" because, in every day life... everything can be viewed that way... however, with this story I cannot think of another way to word it.

Now it's easy to look at the new District Attorney Janice Porter as the heel here.  She's reopening the case for... and considering defending... a confessed serial killer.  We don't have all (or any, really) of the why-fors yet... and quite honestly... it's been over fifteen years since I'd read this, and I cannot remember.  I just gotta assume there's something more to this than just a newly-seated D.A. trying to make waves.

Something of interest was Gordon knowing that Batman was friends with Harvey Dent.  Like I said, it's been awhile... and their relationship both in and out of costume has always appeared somewhat nebulous to me... but is this something Gordon should know?  It's probably nothing, but made my "reading ears" perk up just a bit.

This is definitely a story worth checking out... even if you're not a Loeb fan (and I don't know why you wouldn't be... but I see that a lot of folks are "over" him)... the art is truly worth the price of admission.  It's a beautiful book... well worth your time.  Luckily these days you don't need to buy a $5 issue of Wizard Magazine to get it... you can probably find it in the cheap-o bins!  Just last night I found four copies in one!




Interesting Ads:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Blackest Night #0 (2009)

Blackest Night #0 (June, 2009)
"Death Becomes Us"
Writer - Geoff Johns
Penciller - Ivan Reis
Inkers - Oclair Albert & Rob Hunter
Colorist - Alex Sinclair
Letterer - Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor - Adam Schlagman
Editor - Eddie Berganza

When I first decided to do this Boo Haunted Blog thing, I had figured that I'd cover a whole lotta Blackest Night.  That didn't really turn out to be the case, but I definitely want to get at least one issue from the main series in here... so here we be.


We open with Hal Jordan paying his respects at Bruce Wayne's unmarked grave.  He takes the opportunity to reflect on his rather rocky relationship with his caped and cowled pal.  They had different ways of "doing business", and often didn't see eye-to-eye.  Perhaps they were both just headstrong enough to drive the other, ahem, batty... 

With a flash of lightning, the newly returned Barry Allen arrives on the scene.  He laments the fact that without the Bat-Signal being illuminated with any sort of regularity these days, Gotham City has turned into an even worse cesspool of crime.

Barry notices that Bruce's grave is not marked, and feels bad that there was no ceremonial funeral for his friend.  Hal informs him that it was Bruce's wish for there not to be.  He continues by revealing that while Batman is "officially" dead, Bruce Wayne is not.  He continues by saying Robin believes Bruce is still somehow alive.  In a cute moment, Barry's mind immediately goes to Dick Grayson... Hal corrects him, and it's the first time I considered that there's an entire generation of heroes that Barry's never met!

The pair then compare their own funeral stories.  Barry died a hero... or a saint.  Being the insanely popular and beloved dude that he was, his funeral was standing-room only.  Hal's, on the other hand... was quite the opposite.  He died a villain... and his tombstone was even desecrated... by another hero.

The conversation turns to other friends they'd lost in the not so distant past, including Aquaman and Martian Manhunter.  They talk up the revolving door of death in their particular universe, and believe if there's any possible way to come back from death... Batman will figure it out.  We then get a cute scene between Hal and Bruce where they discuss losing their fathers.  It's really a nice little scene.

The pals take their leave... and we see that they were being watched.  A zombified arm reaches into Bruce Wayne's burial site, and pulls his very skull from the ground.  The Black Lantern oath starts ringing throughout the universe... but who could this be?

Why, it's Black Hand!  The very embodiment of the Black Lantern.  We close out with the end of the oath, promising that the "Dead Shall Rise"... and a scarred Guardian of the Universe with a satisfied smile.


How about that... a Free Comic Book Day issue that actually mattered!  Not some reprinted piece from a continuity (or two) ago, not some animated series tie-in originally published in the early 1990's... and not a preview catalog disguised as anthology.  An actual, honest to goodness story... that leads to something.  Let's do more of these, DC!

For the story itself, I really enjoyed it.  I feel the time between Flash Rebirth and Flashpoint was criminally short.  Just as it appeared that Barry was getting comfortable back among the living... bada bing, welcome to The New-52!  Here we actually get to experience Barry and Hal doing a bit of reconnecting, and getting... ahem... up to speed on current events.  It's brief, but I really dug it.

Especially interesting (and eye-opening) was Barry's mind immediately going to Dick Grayson when he hears the name Robin.  I'd completely taken for granted that he'd never met Tim... hell, I'm not sure he even met Jason.  Such a neat thing for Johns to include here... really puts things into perspective insofar as just how different the world was when Barry last walked... er, ran... it.

The Batman/Hal Jordan relationship was cool to see on display as well.  I can't really speak for much in the pre-Crisis as it pertains to their level of chumminess... but, I do know that ever since Green Lantern Rebirth, Batman has been particularly cautious with how he deals with Hal.  I like them being at-odds... not extreme like the Green Arrow and Hawkman relationship... but, still not seeing eye to eye is a pretty neat dynamic.

We get a pretty good idea of just who's "coming back" via the Black Lantern rings, which was a great way to whet the appetite of DC fans.  I mean, at this point who didn't want to see the Dibneys alive and well?  Or Firestorm or J'onn?  This was such an exciting time to be a fan... part of the reason why I (and presumably many others) were so salty when this universe was swept under the rug just two-years later.


Emotional Spectrum Tour:


Interesting Ads:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...