Wednesday, September 27, 2023

DC Films Special Podcast: Doomsday C***!

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Meanwhile... Diabolu Frank, Mr. Fixit, & Illegal Machine discuss Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, James Gunn's Superman, Doomsday Clock, The Flash movie, and more!

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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Comic Reader Résumé Podcast #17

The Business Year

(Final Quarter - 1985)

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ré·su·mé [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey] noun 1. a summing up; summary. 2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.
In Comic Reader Résumé, I use Mike’s Amazing World of Comics to travel back through time via his virtual newsstand to the genesis point of my lifelong collecting of comics. From there, I can offer a “work history” of my fandom through my active purchasing of (relatively) new comic books beginning in January of 1982, when my interest in the medium went from sporadic and unformed to routine on through compulsive accumulation. To streamline the narrative and keep the subjects at least remotely contemporaneous, I will not generally be discussing what we call back issues: books bought long after their publication date. Sometimes, I will cover a book published on a given month that I picked up within a year or so that date, and I give myself an especially wide berth on this aspect in the first couple of “origins” episodes. We’ll get more rigidly on point as my memories crystallize and my “hobby” spirals out of control into the defining characteristic of my life (eventually outpacing squalor and competing neuroses.) It’s part personal biography, part industry history, and admittedly totally self-indulgent on my part.

This episode includes Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer, Aquaman #1, Blue Devil #21-22, Booster Gold #1, G.I. Joe a Real American Hero #43 & Yearbook #2, Longshot #5-6, Marvel Saga: the Official History of the Marvel Universe #2-4, Meet Misty #2-3, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #3-5, The Punisher #1-3, Robotix #1, Sectaurs #5,The All New, All Daring Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #110, Wonder Man #1, X-Factor #1-2, and more!

“Transcripts” Ambush Bug, Aquaman, Blue Devil, DC Comics, Elvira, Booster Gold, G.I. Joe, He-Man, Hulk, Jem and the Holograms, Longshot, Marvel Comics, Masters of the Universe, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, OHOTMU, Punisher, Robotix, Saturday Night Live, She-Ra, SNL, Spider-Man, Star Wars, X-Factor, X-Men, Comic Reader Résumé

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Comic Reader Résumé: December, 1985

Wrapping up 1985 with December comics. Deadman #1 was in my buddy's grocery sack o'comics in 1988. That was the one with the JLGL art, so it looked swell.

Lil' bro bought the entire Firestar mini-series. I liked Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends as much as the next guy, but not enough to power through that lame book. It's a special level of failure to pack this much X-Men content into a story, including a Wolverine cover, and still be completely overlooked. But also, they got Bill Sienciewcz to ink Art Adams for the #3 cover, and saved the lovely BWS cover for #4, while the first cover looked like a lousy interior panel that got blown up? I'm sure the nigh-florescent solid fuchsia background color did them no favors.

I have to be honest, my brother might have been buying Incredible Hulk as far back as #314, with the covers to #315 & 317 being awful familiar, but all these Byrne slugfest run together in my mind. Which time was Hulk throwing down against other heroes and supporting characters amidst a bunch of rubble? It's hard to say. A lot of these images were reused in supplemental magazines like Marvel Age and Marvel Handbook, another layer of confusion.

Ditto X-Factor #2. I think they were doing to good a job of replicating the original X-Men stories, because I didn't like reading them, either. My half-brother scored a lot of low grade double-digits X-Men from his neighborhood shop, especially the Werner Roth stuff, but he did have at least one of the Steranko issues. I don't think he had any Neal Adams, though. So all those books were about the five X-Men piling on against a single uninspired villain of the month. Despite all their railing against prejudice, the optics made them look like bullies, and also the optics were by a guy less well regarded than Don Heck. This month's X-Factor piled on Tower, a guy he got tall. So exciting.

Marvel Saga #4 was the big muties issues, including the origins of Juggernaut, Professor X and his relationship with Magneto, Xavier's crippling by an alien called Lucifer, a brief history of the Summers clan and the first solo adventure of Cyclops. Next, Dr. Don Blake encounters the stone men, and a walking stick that can summon the mystical uru metal hammer of the Mighty Asgardian Thor. Blake further determines that he be worthy to harness the power and form of the Norse god of thunder. Next, Dr. Henry Pym develops particles that allow him to shrink into an Ant-Man. Finally, Dr. Doom convinces Sub-Mariner to unite forces against the FF. This issue sure set me up to get the identity of Onslaught wrong, let me tell you.

I'd be curious to know what the rationale was for the Wonder Man one shot special. It had a painted Bill Sienkiewcz cover, which let's be real, is well above Simon Williams' station. But also, it's a man in a safari jacket fighting white pygmy centurions, and that had to limit its commercial appeal. The interiors are by Kerry Gammill, so it could have been an art gem, except they turned Vinnie Colleta loose on the pages. That's understandable if you have a crushing deadline, but Wonder Man one shot? My guess is that it was an aborted mini-series from Marvel's 1983 glut that got repurposed on the cheap. Hearing Wonder Man's origin as an embezzler and traitor did not endear me, and this was clearly not the first of his many, many ugly costumes. I also wasn't overly fond of his being an actor of the professional wrestler/soap opera caliber, what with the taste of Booster Gold still in my mouth. I already regret that phrasing. I don't know what possessed me to acquire this book, and to maintain a very mild affection toward Wonder Man for any period of time, but rest assured that feeling past swiftly without a trace.

After a bit of a gap, I think I dipped into Elfquest #8, but the cover is more familiar than the contents.

Ah, G.I. Joe Yearbook #2, with that boss Michael Golden cover spotlighting Snake-Eyes, Roadblock, and Lady Jane. Two movies, and nobody ever thought to just center one on the most popular Joes in heightened military action? I guess that would have gotten in the way of Marlon Wayans in a powered suit fighting Joseph Gordon Levitt and the Ninth Doctor in a story set before any of the characters were any good. This book though, has Michael Golden interiors to go with the cover, automatically making it one of the greatest Joe comics ever. G.I. Joe must hold some kind of record for most awesome covers in direct opposition to the quality of the story art. Plus, it's a full length story featuring Destro and Baroness against the Winter Guard, the Russian equivalent of the Joes. Also, it's full of toyetic vehicles drawn to look cooler than the actual toys! Like I said, an all-timer. This was followed by a long article on the G.I Joer cartoon, and a cover gallery to date featuring an add for the U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier playset. Next was a Marvel Saga type review of the year in Joe comics, and yes, I used these Yearbooks to fill in the holes in my collecting like the grandpa in Lost Boys used TV Guide to avoid actually watching TV. You might say to yourself, "wow, that's a lot of page filling recycled content," to which I'd reply, if that's how they budgeted to get Michael Golden, it was worth it. It also covered the two Golden pin-ups at the back, including the shot of Roadblock notoriously swiped by Rob Liefeld for a heavily trafficked Cable image.

Like the final issue of Dazzler this month, just because lil' bro bought Secret Wars II #9 doesn't mean I could be bothered to read it. Leialoha inking Milgrom sure has Gibson inking Staton Millennium energy. The main thing I remember from this issue is the late term abortion panel that got reused for Beyonder's entry in the handbook of the dead. It makes you think you'd like to read that story until you try to look at any given page of this abomination.

The cover and interior art on Sectaurs #5 is so incredible, I had to wonder what happened to this Steve Geiger guy, and was reminded that he was responsible for those bland Hulk covers from early in Todd McFarlane's run. From there he did some underwhelming Spider-Man stuff, some New Universe, and more toy tie-ins. What gives? From there I checked on co-inker Joe DelBeato, which made a lot more sense. He was the inker over Michael Chen for most of his short run in the comics field, and that guy was like a prototype for Arthur Adams. An kinetic detailing beast that just didn't get a lot of material out there. And then we get to the third inker, credited only as Williams. GCD seems to think this was Keith Williams, who did in fact ink Geiger of Web of Spider-Man, except that art looked nothing like this. The timing is about right for it to actually be Scott Williams, who was already assisting on Alien Legion and Longshot. That said, it's Geiger and Keith Williams on the next issue, and it's still quite good, though not as stunning as this issue. The story? Let's not worry about the story. Focus on pretty pictures.

Begrudgingly back for Blue Devil #22, which I'm starting to think must have been in the flea market years, my memory is so dim of having read it. This is a tale of Las Vegas lunacy involving the blobby orange alien guys from an issue I wasn't into in the single digits. Lots of stomping around in casinos, but little actual amusement.

I'm a little dubious that The Punisher #3 came out this December, as the mini-series was missing publication dates from the very start, and it sure felt like there were long gaps between issues. But then again, I'm not confident my brtother was getting them brand new, so maybe it took him a while to score each issue. This one was less about spree killing and more about Punisher navigating mob intrigue and a plot borrowing heavily from the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force. It was still good, but the first issue was so perfect that distance from it was it's own diminishing return. But also, Zeck was struggling with deadlines and couldn't make the art sing to the same degree from issue to issue, though the splash page offers one of the all-time best Frank Castle head shots. By which I mean a picture of his face, not the spray of some schmuck's gray matter.

I think I had the option of picking up Uncanny X-Men #201 off the stands, introducing baby Nate Summers and featuring the battle between Cyclops and Storm for leadership of the team. However, it was drawn by Rick Leonardi, so I di'int. I don't recall ever seeing #202. #203 was a Secret Wars II tie-in, so my half-brother bought it. Looked kinda trippy, but also like your typical Claremont head games, focusing on Rogue and Rachael Summers. I had no interest in either of those two characters, and never read this one. Even when I was filling gaps in my run with X-Men Classic, I never got the reprint of this issue. I guess I waited until 1986 to begin properly committing to following the mutants with any kind of regularity.

Oh no, is it time to read Misty #3 already? I made the mistake of continuing to cover 1985 in quarters, regardless of length, and to help I worked on all three months at once. It played havoc on my writing order, and there were months long gaps, so I'm really looking forward to going monthly in 1986 and having twelve minute episodes again. It also means I should have to read two Meet Misty issues in as many nights ever again. On their soap opera As The Cookie Crumbles, Darlene and Misty are in danger of being pushed aside by Lake Lovelock, the biggest siren since Aunt Millie retired from modeling. And this was according to Darlene! After all that build-up, I was pretty unimpressed with Loverlock, what with Darleen sporting an outfit designed by Gilbert Hernandez. Misty initially agrees to help Darleen sabotage Lovelock, but ever the goody-too-shoes, Misty passively reneges. Darleen manages to turn Lovelock's hair green, which is actually becoming, and Misty gives the fellow actress her wardrobe when a smoke bomb ruins Lovelock's. It all turns out to be pointless, because Lovelock was dating the rocker Billy Active, and Darlene unintentionally set up Ricky and Misty to go to his concert that night. Further, the "hot" scene that the girls were worried about was related to actual pyrotechnics, not interpersonal heat. The second story is a very special episode, where what the girls think is a haunted house turns out to be where an old woman is barely surviving on her own. Luckily Misty insisted on investigating, and helped save the woman until her handsome grandson can come stay with her. Terry Beatty and Janet Jackson design outfits in this one, and there's even a gag where Mike Mignola is credit for the raccoons they find in the attic. So yeah, this one was actually a lot better than the previous two. My main complaint is that Misty is too good and Darleen too bad. Not only is it close to the Betty & Veronica dynamic, but it's even more polarized, making Misty a predictable bore and Darlene a moneyed monster.

We'll close out 1985 in comics with OHOTMU #5. I'll be honest, in a time of Rainbow Bright and Care Bears, I never appreciated Glorian's riding in on a rainbow marring my Hulk & Hawkeye cover. It was representative of the issue as a whole, featuring an excess of cosmic characters I never cared for with g-sounds in their names. I might have otherwise appreciated the cleverness of a Curt Swan Gladiator, but I was too annoyed with the company on both the concept and art front to give the gimmick a pass. As a kid, it took me all the way to page 32's Gypsy Moth by Sandy Plunkett to see something I liked, and you don;t want Gypsy Moth setting the bar. This might as well have been a issue of Who's Who, with Elders of the Universe replacing New Gods and Inhumans subbing for Atari Force members. Mark Gruenwald, usually known as a writer and editor, thought it would be a good idea to obscure Hawkeye's face with his fist for his entry art. Oh hey, an entry on the Egyptian pantheon. How Thriller. Daimon Hellstrom and Patsy Walker, retired in plainclothes. There are more highlights than I'm highlighting, in part because I expect they play better for others than myself, as for me this one was a bit of a dog.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Comic Reader Résumé: November, 1985

On to November of 1985. The lovely Craig Hamilton cover art for the first issue of the 1986 Aquaman mini-series, featuring his short-lived blue "camouflage suit," was also a pervasive house ad. I'm pretty sure I tossed through that first issue at a mall bookstore, but it didn't come home with me, and I wouldn't read the mini-series until my deep Aquaman dive of the mid '90s. Apologies to Neal Pozner, but the art was definitely the only reason to bother with it.

Likewise, the 48-page final issue of Wonder Woman vol. I, #329, looked properly momentous. It was a Crisis tie-in with a JLGL cover in a martial setting that was then uncommon for the Amazing Amazon. Unfortunately, the interiors were still by Don Heck, and I never had any tolerance for him in my youth. Another toss at the mall, then back on the heavy wood & plastic spinner rack.

Little bro definitely bought X-Factor #1, which I remember as another one of those odd situations like Crystar #1, where only the debut issue was printed on Baxter stock with the associated price bump. Then #2 comes along in standard comics newsprint. I'm sure they got a little profit bump off that, but it cost them any loyalty from a cost conscious customer myself. If I can't afford the first issue, you're going to have to work that much harder to get me to buy the second or third issue. Anyway, the book started under Bob Layton and Butch Guice, who I'd seen on other books but couldn't yet recognize beyond being part of the default Marvel Bronze Age style. I had passing familiarity with the original X-Men from titles like Marvel Team-Up, New Defenders, and Phoenix: The Untold Story, but I wasn't particularly endeared to any of them then or now. The story itself bored me, so I only ever read it once, if that. I feel like I might have bailed partway through.

Marvel Saga #3 had a particularly nice cover featuring the forging of Dr. Doom's face plate by Ron Frenz and John Byrne. The comic starts with perhaps a newly commissioned splash page of Sub-Mariner, as he recalls the circumstances behind his loss of both memory and underwater kingdom of Atlantis. The art is all over the place as illustrations are taken from sources as varied as 40s Bill Everett, 60s Jack Kirby, 70s Frank Robbins Invaders material, some John Buscema and maybe Don Heck to cover Prince Namor's birth through his post-World War II adventures. Then we're back to very early Fantastic Four and Hulk content, including the origin of Dr. Doom, which allows some more contemporary panels by John Byrne and Jerry Ordway. This series is maybe the most visually schizophrenic thing Marvel ever published, given the whiplash of following all that up with the time the Thing impersonated Blackbeard the pirate. Uncle Ben gets shot and Spider-Man discovers his own role in that sad circumstance, while Charles Xavier braces for the public revelation of the existence of mutants among them. I'm so much happier getting through all this Silver Age material in synopsis form, rather than slogging through the actual stories.

The Punisher #2 was filled with violent executions and one sex scene. It was quite similar to 1983's The New Teen Titans Annual #2, introducing The Vigilante, one of my formative comics. I still give the edge to Wolfman and Perez on this front, but no other Vigilante story would ever live up to the first, while this was only one issue of an outstanding Punisher solo mini-series.

My brother liked to collect final issues of titles, as it was for Defenders #152, a staple reference for characters in the Dead & Inactive editions of OHOTMU. Under a Frank Cirroco cover, the un-team anticipates the COIE fate of the Justice Society, as most appear to sacrifice their lives to stop a cosmic threat, leaving only The Beast and Angel to immediately reform the original X-Men as X-Factor. I think only Manslaughter and Interloper stayed dead, which surprises me, because someone like Deadpool could use foils like these.

I was clearly becoming disenchanted with Blue Devil by #21, where he went up against a giant car that ate other cars. I wasn't buying this title to see the hero drive around for an entire issue, and the art sure wasn't selling it. I'm not sure if this was flea market buy or something I got out of the quarter bin a few years later. Oh look, the Aquaman house ad.

As I've often whined about, I only bought Booster Gold #1 because there was an ad saying I would get a free promotional button at participating stores. I rarely bought comics at Circle K, and they were in fact not participating. Booster Gold was a corporate capitalist super-hero more concerned with licensing deals than lives. I thought he had a doofy costume, and I don't think Mike DeCarlo's inks flattered the reliably bland Dan Jurgens. It's not a great sign that I thought the tossed-off villain Blackguard looked cooler. Between Blue Devil's decline and this, it's no wonder I was backing away from DC toward Marvel. At least I can say I got in on the ground floor of hating Booster Gold, nearly forty years going. And no, I don't still want my button.

Woo-Hoo! OHOMU #4! Paul Smith Dr. Strange, Dormammu, and, um, Dragon Man! Dave Gibbons Drednaught! Bill Sienkiewicz Elektra! BWS Forge! Howie Chaykin Dominick Fortune! Large, plentiful reference image to elaborate upon the text! Mike Zeck Falcon so good it almost makes me interested in the Falcon! Same for JRJR's Fenris twins! A Larry Lieber Forgotten One that is definitely referencing Arnold! A Val Mayerick Frankenstein made all the more pale by that Mike Ploog inset art! The only disappointment for me is the Steranko Nick Fury, who is not living up to his own legacy art in the entry, and is maybe just incompatible with inker Joe Rubinstein?

I'd aged out of Peter Porker between Marvel Tails with an i and The Spectacular Spider-Ham ongoing series, but I randomly ended up with #6 at some point. Our hero must battle Ducktor Doom and the attack of giant killer vegetable to save Aunt May. I think I thought it would be funnier? I did like Peter's kid sidekicks, Bunsen Bunny, J. Jeremiah Jackal, Jr., and especially Upton Adam Stray, who looked like a New Wave take on Felix the Cat. There was an Awful Flight back-up story, which leaned way to hard on the McKenzie Brothers riff, but I still liked that weird Steve Mellor art.

One that held up it's comedy promise, at least in the first half, was the Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer. The cover warned readers not to open the book until December 25th, but I waited until 1987, when I got the book at Third Planet. I proceeded to read it most Christmases for the next several years though. You'd think a Jewish creator like Keith Giffen would have little interest in the holiday, except that's actually probably part of the reason he's done so many parodies of it, and you can't deny it's secular cultural impact. It's abuse of Hukka from Atari Force is legendary, and I think I started drinking Yoo-Hoos because old Irwin Schwab reaches for a statted photograph of one in this comic. It's a can though, and everybody knows that you should only drink Yoo-Hoos from an ice cold glass model. He really is a crazed maniac. The book goes on to parody Night of the Living Dead and rebut Steve Ditko's objectivist comics with a jaundiced view of the American justice system. Yes, in a xmas comic. And that's before things getting entirely insane, bringing in Ernie Colon and offering stacked fan polls and introducing Chibi illustration to western audiences. This really is a wild one, and it's been too many years since I gave it a read, especially since I own the story multiple times over at this point.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Comic Reader Résumé: October, 1985

Now we enter October of 1985. I've never read Uncanny X-Men Annual #9, the one where the team goes to Asgard and Storm becomes an avatar of Thor. I think it continued from the New Mutants Special. I bring it up because I do have a strong memory of seeing it at one of those early proto-comic shops housed in a flea market, either in South Houston or Pasadena. When it was just my mother and grandmother, we really never traveled further than walking or biking distance, even when we had a car. One benefit of my stepfather coming into the picture is that we started venturing further out and doing so more often. We only occasionally hit this one flea market, our base having been a smaller and more predictable spot off the gulf freeway. This market had actual shops with windows and doors, as well as the broader, lower quality central area with folding tables and such. So this comic shop had proper longboxes and wall books and such, and this comic was displayed near the cash register. Again, an actual register, rather than a simple lockbox or fanny pack full of small bills and spare change. So this book was in a bag and board, and I want to say it was market at some crazy price like $5. I sure wanted to check it out, but I was much too timid, and frankly too wise to ask that of the retailer. I wonder how long it took to stockpile Arthur Adams projects so that he could have the Longshot mini-series and multiple extra length one-shots all out in the same season? I love this period, when Adams is still figuring out his style, so his anatomy is extra exaggerated and he goes for much darker, moodier images. I'm sure having Mike Mignola as one of his inkers contributed to those rich blacks. Marvel recently solicited an omnibus of all of Adams' work for them, which I pre-ordered, and I can assure you it will cost me a lot more that five bucks. I'm really looking forward to having all his covers and trading card art all in one hefty volume.

My half-brother might have had Avengers #263, the issue where Sub-Mariner helped them recover a cocoon from the bottom of the Jamaica Bay. He might have also had Fantastic Four #286, where a beautiful red-haired woman in an evening gown sprung out of said cocoon, all drawn by John Byrne. Definitely that was a wall book at the flea market comic shop. I'm fairly confident he had Marvel Age #33, with a bunch of redacted information about the upcoming launch of X-Factor, and vague references to this not-so-mysterious future member. Maybe we just read that and not those other two? I can't recall. Also, there's a surprising amount of Meet Misty content in Marvel Age during this time. She got a fair shot but failed, I figure.

Still keeping up with my bro's copies of Marvel Saga: the Official History of the Marvel Universe. The second issue cover the Fantastic Four's first contact with the Skrulls, Peter Parker being bitten by a radioactive spider and taking up professional wrestling, Dr. Bruce Banner's ill-fated gamma bomb test, and the Human Torch's discovery of the Sub-Mariner living with amnesia among New York's homeless community.

My brother and I were both intrigued by advance coverage of the new Punisher mini-series in Marvel Age. One of the earliest Spider-Man comics I ever bought was 1977's #175, cover-featuring Punisher atop the Statue of Liberty. I thought Punisher was one of the coolest looking characters ever, but he was absence from the newsstands up to that point. I never saw any of these new books there either, as they either sold out quick, or were too violent to get distribution in my area. Bro had access to a comic shop though, so I got to read his copy of the extra-length first issue. I believe though that these early issues were not new, but back issues he bought at inflated prices before interest in the title had fully exploded. Images from and issues of Punisher selling for highly inflated prices would be a staple of mail order advertisements in comics for the rest of the decade. Punisher #1 has to be among the finest introductory issues ever produced. Hardened, larger than life vigilante Frank Castle had been sentenced to Ryker's Island Penitentiary for murdering scores of the types of criminals that he'd now be doing time alongside. Everyone wants a piece of Frank, with the story cycling through one attempt after another to take his life. But you see, Frank Castle wasn't locked up with them-- they were locked up with the Punisher. I'd like to add that Watchmen #1 is nearly a year away, which might help explain why Rorschach never impressed me much. Likewise, he wasn't drawn by Mike Zeck at the very peak of his powers, nor written unironically by a very enthused and hard-boiled Steven Grant. This comic earned every degree of heat that it generated.

With horror anthologies dying out, somebody had the bright idea of trying to extend their life by tying the format into a licensing deal with a nationally syndicated horror hostess. I don't believe that I ever owned a copy of Elvira's House of Mystery #1, but it was a prominent house ad, and maybe a wall book? Also, while the Brian Bolland cover could maybe use a little tighter photo reference, the image is indelible. Nearly forty years later, I saw patches and other merchandise based on this image for sale at the Texas Frightmare Weekend. Movie Macabre was regular Saturday Night UHF viewing on Houston's channel 20, either as an alternative to or sometime after Saturday Night Live. Yes, the jokes were corny as hell, but Elvira was such a vivacious persona, and her mocking the lousy movies that she had access to was so novel at the time, I was an instant fan. Sometime later in the decade, I had a poster of Elvira on my wall where she was moonbathing with lotion. I still kinda want another copy of that one. In a time when so many childhood favs have turned out to be walking human atrocities, I'm so glad Elvira actress Cassandra Peterson is essentially the Dolly Parton of horror, and a wonderful representative for the Lesbian community, that is yet clearly capable of straight male... outreach. Given its 64 page length, $1.50 cover price, and that the second issue won't arrive until 1986, I have to figure this was intended as a one-shot that over-performed enough to mandate an ongoing series.

My brother had an interest in Manslaughter, the super-villain and, most likely, the concept itself. I know he had the character's previous appearance in Defenders #134, where he pulled a 10 Little Indians on the team, and he came back in the penultimate issue, #151, to get his Deathstroke on. Both issue had Kevin Nowlan covers, which was reason enough to buy. While the Don Perlin interiors were always an obstacle, Dell Barras inked the heck out of this issue, really elevating the work. Peter B. Gillis was also good at writing portent, as this issue introduces the Interloper, and a final quest of apocalyptic nature for the team.

Howard Chaykin's cover to Green Lantern #196 really grabbed my attention, but Joe Staton's interiors just as quickly lost it. Still, the image of an alternate Lantern Corpsman with a tight strawberry blonde haircut, gray turtleneck, and abundance of attitude stayed with me. I'd surely see Guy Gardner again. At the very least, I'd toss through the next couple of COIE tie-in issues at the same mall bookstore. Likewise, I don't know precisely when I started tossing through issues of the Miller/Mazzuchelli "Born Again" arc, beginning with Daredevil #227, but I think I only saw nonconsecutive issues at the mall. The story looked to involved to jump into, but it did get my attention.

Robotix was Milton Bradley's attempt to enter the action figure market, supported by a 6-minute segment in Marvel Animation's Super Saturday or Super Sunday anthology cartoon / programming block. The big thing with them was that the mechanoid vehicles could move under their own power, though to the modest degree of a wind-up toy. The first three of the 15 total segments were adapted into a single Marvel Comics standard length comic by Herb Trimpe, and I think my brother bought it. I know that I watched the Super-whichever day it ran in Houston, probably Sunday, but Robotix has fallen almost all the way down the memory hole. The opening sequence jogged that memory just a bit, and all the episodes were edited into a single home video "movie" that you can stream free on YouTube. Based on the designs, I might still have the head of one of the robots and one or two of the teeny limited articulation pilot action figures that made M.A.S.K. toys look like He-Man by comparison.

I want to say I tossed through World's Finest Comics #323, the farewell issue, at the mall bookstore, but it it right back. No impression beyond the cover. Lil Bro might have had Captain America #314, with the fake Batman from the Squadron Supreme and a giant typewriter. He might have also had #316, with an Armadillo team-up. I was still totally demotivated by the Paul Neary art and couldn't be bothered to read either.

Longshot #5 saw the hero betrayed by his pet, who amusingly had grown in size with each issue's corner box until becoming a towering threat. His stuntwoman friend Ricochet Rita had also run afoul of Mojo. That super cool looking Ram guy from Mojoworld that got a random Toy Biz action figure years later turns up. There's a page of Art Adams rendering Dr. Strange and Wong in the Sanctum Sanctorum, which is yes please.

G.I. Joe a Real American Hero #43 was a real highlight of the run, from the grim reaper in red with an assault rifle on the Mike Zeck cover, to the Rod Whigham interiors on the harrowing story within. Billy and the Hard Master both appear to perish during a combination drunk driving incident and Cobra ambush. Meanwhile, a story about a former Joe who'd been seduced by Cobra and given a fake family as a cover comes to a satisfying conclusion. If I recall correctly, #44 was one of the issues that got a brief animated TV advertisement, which I think caused me to miss it and #45 from the interest that generated.

The conclusion to the Death of Jean DeWolfe arc in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #110 was a lot. There was highly effective use of stated archival panels or swipes, the lopsided final battle between Sin-Eater and Spider-Man, lots of headbutting with Daredevil, backstory, Jonah-baiting, debates about mob justice, and the start of another plot for the next issue. I haven't read this stuff in decades, despite owning the trade collection, but I still feel for this story. Also, I was able to collect the entire arc as Dutch-language issues of Edderkoppen at a flea market in Copenhagen while on vacation for about seventy-five cents each, which was nice. #111 was a Secret Wars II tie-in by a guest writer, and I think I was hip to avoiding all Beyonder appearances by this point. Of all places, I think I saw #112 at a Fiesta Mart. It's a big chain of Latin-themed supermarkets founded in Houston in 1972, which spread throughout Texas but never beyond. Right at the entrance was their expansive selection of fresh produce and seafood, by which I mean tanks of living sealife that they will pull out and kill for your culinary enjoyment. The combination created a bit of a stink that really hit you upon arrival, and tended to linger throughout. That was the one place I knew growing up that carried gory Mexican tabloids with uncensored full color images of crime scenes, as well as racy pocket digests of Mexican comics. They also had a small selection of American comics, and the image of Santa Claus standing in for the Terminator with dark shades and a hand-cannon tended to stand out. The art was by Mark Beachum, not giving his best work, nor served well by poor inks from an unknown. I think the Santa was the deciding factor, but the overall package stayed at Fiesta.

I bought a set of Meet Misty in a pack at Bedrock City Comics a number of years ago, and have committed to a reread for this project. When I went back to read old Patsy Walker comics, it was a pleasant surprise to find them so fun and funny. These books from the mid 80s read more like what I would have expected from that 50s & 60s material. It is amusing that Misty has an interest in her TV show co-star, Ricky Martin, but when he protests that he isn't dating any of the girls the teen beat mags have connected him to, it hits different now. There's a Halloween story about the Horseless Horseman involving Misty's rival Darlene Donderbeck that barely has a gag, much less a story. Misty's friends Shirelle Brown and Spike Mahoney fear that fame might be going to her head, but she's really just wiped out from keeping up with her schoolwork and being a guardian angel to a new girl. There's a two page strip on how, in the '80s, things being bad meant that they were actually good. Yeah, these are grandma jokes. It's pretty painful.

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #3, "Cloak to Doctor Octopus" featured Dr. Doom and Devil at the fore of a wraparound John Byrne cover. Good start. I was glad to finally read up on what exactly Cloud's deal was, at a time when transsexual representation in mainstream comics was near zero, and not much better anywhere else in pop culture. Was this my first Constrictor sighting? I believe my brother had the Secret Wars rare import figure, and I always loved the design of this sadly mishandled villain. In all honesty, I wasn't wild about the character or artist selection in this one. Cyclops is shown in his lousy early X-Factor costume where he looks like The Man With An Hourglass Coming Out of His Crotch.

Longshot #6 wraps up the mini-series in a double-sized finale in the same month as #5, supposedly, boggling my mind. There's a lot of Mojo and Spiral and Longshot origin leftovers involving his creator, Arize. My eyes glazed over all that stuff. In the end, Doctor Strange helps Longshot, Rita, and the Ram guy to get back to Mojoworld to continue their rebellion against the gluttonous robo-spider media tyrant. It seems like only Chris Claremont had an appetite for more of that, as Longshot solo without Arthur Adams never got much traction. At least this served as a good audition for Ann Nocenti to take over Daredevil once Miller was done with it. Once there, her writing could shine outside Adams' long shadow.