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2013 Weekly Comic Buys n' Reads
Topic Started: Jan 3 2013, 12:24 PM (9,958 Views)
Erick Von Erich
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Thanks to digital tablets, I enter the year seriously thinking about selling off everything but my "Avengers" and "GI Joe" titles . Easier said than done. I mean, who's going to want to buy 30 boxes of random books? At once?

Defenders #63-64
Dollar Bill sells his film footage from the Devil-Slayer arc to a television channel. It promotes the Defenders and declares how anybody can join the "non-team". A whole slew of heroes shows up at the team's Long Island ranch, declaring themselves members. Notables are Hercules (now the 'leader'), Ms. Marvel, Falcon, Nova, Iron Fist, Marvel Man (Quasar), Son of Satan (back for his fourth appearance), Captain Ultra, Torpedo and ... Tagak the Leopard Lord. Every splits off into three teams to tackle new teams of villainous "Defenders", headed by Sagitarrius and Libra (from the Zodiac/Scorpio arc).

Everybody speaks about themselves in the third person, so readers can identify them. Hellcat makes everybody coffee..and it's horrible. It's like a take-off on "Super Friends" cartoons, as things become incredibly silly. The 3 teams thing makes me wonder if it was pointed directly at Gardner Fox's old JSA/JLA formula of the team-up. Considering the book's weirdness rep and the time frame (late 70's), I'm almost positive this was a shot at DC's JLA and Super Friends.

A few guys leave after becoming pre-occupied with the nearby horses on the ranch and start racing each other. Others follow Nighthawk, but leave when all they do is bother the same young kid. Hellcat gets a buncha' guys riled up her simply because she's hot and has the hot rod "Hellcatmobile". Herc and Valkyrie's teams meet the bad-guy Defenders who are an equally random collection of characters (including the Blob who laments about being a whipping boy, again).

Things go to heck when everybody begins tripping over themselves and the cops get pissed off. Towards the end, Valkyrie begins having flashbacks and talking in proper "Asgardian speech" (like Thor). This will lead into the next arc, where they FINALLY deal with Val's Asgardian connections. Iron Man also makes a quick cameo in issue 63 as he delivers an envelope addressed to Hellcat from Avengers Mansion.
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Erick Von Erich
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Avenging Spider-Man #15.1
Deals with Otto's first 5 days as Spider-Man. He re-visits his old Doc Ock lab and gets attacked by his old defenses. He realizes what a loser he was as Doc Ock...it also helps that he's having more thoughts about Mary Jane.

Otto cooks up some new enhancements for the Spidey suit to make it resemble the movie versions. Significantly, he adds some funkiness to his lenses, then adds claws to his gloves and shoes. It looks like "Superior Spider-Man" will be distinguished by his shiny lenses and the one-toed claw on his feet. Ehhh...okay.
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Erick Von Erich
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Defenders #65
Prime example of an inventory or loose-ends issue. Hellcat's letter turns out to be an invitation from Millie the Model, who makes one of her rare appearances in a Marvel Super Hero title.

The bulk of the issue ties up the Red Guardian/Presence thread as the two soak up a contaminated blob in Russia. They decide to live together as atomic beings in a radioactive no man's land area of Russia. This pretty much writes-out the Red Guardian from the title. She'll appear with the Presence as a super-villain (of sorts) in other titles.

Defenders #66-68
Valkyrie returns to Asgard and regains her memories of being "Brunnhilde". It's all part of a scheme by a guy named Ollerus to take over all the realms of the dead in Asgard. Ollerus is pretty weird; he wears a big shark helmet and drives around in a giant mountain.

To reach the "realm of the dead", the other Defenders all randomly die on Earth. Even the Hulk. Barbara Norriss' body is taken to Asgard, too, as we have two different Valkyries running around. In the end, Val returns to Earth with the Defenders, while Barbara Norriss is sent to "Hell" (later known as "Hel"), the Asgardian land of the dead. Val will now speak in a more formal tone, like Thor and everybody else.

The Barbara Norriss character is written-out at this point. Have to say she got a terrible hand dealt to her. Get abducted by a cult, go insane, have your life ruined, then "die". She was just an innocent tool through it all, so it's strange that they didn't give her a pleasant send-off. Her husband, Jack, hasn't been seen since he was wandering around trying to find SHIELD's office. After being given so much prominence, early in the book, they ended up being worthless characters.
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Erick Von Erich
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Avengers #1-2 (2013
A (seemingly) new villain named Ex Nihilio transforms the planet of Mars, creating its own ecosystem, then sends similar "Origin Bombs" to earth. The modern core of Avengers zips out to Mars to investigate. By "modern core", I mean the movie team of Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow.

Ex Nihilio and his crew capture them, but send Cap back to Earth as a message. Cap activates an emergency plan he and Iron Man had concocted-- a way to rally and recruit an entire army of Avengers. Included are new guys Hyperion, Sunspot, Cannonball, Manifold, Captain Universe, Smasher (who?) and even Shang-Chi. Plus the usual standbys: Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, Captain Marvel and the Falcon.

While this formula seems primed to ramp up the action, I'm not getting a "can't wait" vibe. The "Avengers Army" has been tried before and it usually starts big, then fades away. I remember similar effects happening around 2002 and 1989.

The core Avengers being captured by a giant threat and one member being sent back to create a new team...is almost identical to the set-up for 1975's "Giant Size X-men". With Ex Nihilio playing the role of Krakoa and Cap playing the role of Cyclops. I also don't get a scene where Cap goes out to recruit Capt. Marvel and Spider-Woman...who were Avengers in current standing, last I checked.

While this title is already past the novelty of bringing in new heroes, the real test will be seeing what it does with them. Having a buncha' guys attack a villain needs to have something fresh, otherwise it's just a different version of the usual two-page "battle royal" spread you get every year in the "big event" crossover title. "Avengers" needs to have more substance than roster juggling. So, yup, taking a "wait and see" approach.

Personally, I feel that this entire "army" concept will fade away in 15 issues and we'll be back to another "Old Order Changeth" roster shuffling gimmick.
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Erick Von Erich
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Defenders #69
In a filler issue, Dr. Strange summons the team to New England, where a random tennis player has unexpectedly received the residual powers of the Omegatron (from the early issues of the title). The guy becomes "The Anything Man", until Dr. Strange is able to talk him down and zap him back to normal with MAGIC!

Defenders #70-73
The team finally goes after Lunatik, catching 4 different versions of him. They're all tied into ESU professor Harrison Turk, whose body has been split into five different fragments upon arriving on earth. Turk and the Lunatiks are actually "Arisen Tyrk", an extra-dimensional villain from "Man-Wolf" stories.

Clea zaps the team to a different dimension, the weird-as-all-hell Tunnelworld. Full of monsters, dwarfs and other junk. There's an "unameable evil" controlling Tyrk and Tunnelworld. The team meets up with the wizard Xhoohx, a five-legged, many-eyed, furry guy who speaks a little bit like Yoda. Tyrk is thrown in a magic circle and the team is sent back to Earth. Nighthawk sums things up when he laments: "darn. Why do the Defenders always get the metaphysical villains?"

The "unameable" evil is never seen or described, but Dr. Strange stays behind in Tunnelworld until the writers can devise a way to tie-up the plot.

I've always wondered if "Tunnelworld" was at least partially inspired by "Ringworld", a sci-fi novel series that was pretty popular at the time. Sure, they're completely different, but the gimmicky shape of each world is about the only connection they might have.

Herb Trimpe also arrived as penciler at the end of the Valkyrie story. He's definitely the "Marvel House Style", as he does his best Kirby-Lite impression. His characters are very rigid and despite his association with "GI Joe" in the 80's, I've never been a fan of the guy's actual work. He was the regular artist on Hulk in the 70's, which is probably why he shuttled over to Defenders.
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Erick Von Erich
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Defenders #74-75
The Foolkiller; a loon who dresses like a pirate and carries a "Purification Ray"; shows up at Dollar Bill's apartment, demanding to see Professor Turk (whom Bill had roomed with). Bill persuades Foolkiller to follow him out to Long Island and the Defenders' Riding Academy; saying he could join the team. When Foolkiller gets there, he reveals that he just wanted to meet the Defenders so he could kill them. A big fight ensues and, in the process, a good chunk of the riding academy is set on fire.

Nighthawk had been subpoenaed by the IRS, and returns just in time to see the place burning down. Nighthawk had been called out on all his investments and projects, simply because he hasn't been around. He had quit the Defenders, but when he sees the riding academy burnt down, he declares the Defenders kaput.

Valkyrie is the temporary leader of the group in Nighthawk's absence. Clea's a sorta' member, but they keep mentioning she's a "non-Defender."

Hulk wanders off, per his usual. He gets pissed at the Long Island Rail Road and tears it up, to the cheers of many commuters. Then, he finds a beached whale and tosses it back in the ocean... complete with a caption telling us that if WE also want to help the whales, we can write to Greenpeace. I think they actually follow-up on the whole "Hulk likes whales" thing.

Finally, Dr. Strange goes to Atlantis to see Namor. He's still concerned about the "Unameable" evil in Tunnelworld. Another transition for the book is ahead, as the original three members reunite and some new characters come in.
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Mad Dog
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Cerebus #1-21,

This is a reread. I read the first 170 or so issues the first time around and one of my goals for 2013 was to read all 300 issues in a year. So right on track with it so far.
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Erick Von Erich
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Mad Dog,Jan 21 2013
06:01 PM
Cerebus #1-21,

This is a reread. I read the first 170 or so issues the first time around and one of my goals for 2013 was to read all 300 issues in a year. So right on track with it so far.

Awesome. I love re-reads nowadays. Most fun I've had with comics in the past 8 years or so has been my re-reads of GI Joe and now Defenders.

Cerebus is one of those titles I've always heard good things about, even back in the 80's. Just like "Usagi Yojimbo", I usually say: "yeah, I should track down and read those things, one day", but I never have.

Let us know your thoughts/opinions/hates on the thing. I know I'm interested (and since just the two of us post in this category, that's all that matters! Moowhahaha!)
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Mad Dog
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You can really get away with just reading the first 4 trades of Cerebus. Really, a lot of people skip the first trade because it's different. It starts out as a Conan satire and starts to change in the early teens to a more dramatic piece.

For my money, the High Society trade and both volumes of Church and State are some of the best stories I have ever read. It goes downhill after that but I would place Cerebus on my top 10 of books you should read.
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Erick Von Erich
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First X-men #1 & 2
The latest in what seems to the never-ending set of X-men ret-cons. Appears to be about 5 years before 1963's "X-men #1". Wolverine and Sabretooth are recruiting mutants to avoid capture and probing by the always evil Government.

They've picked up a young kid named Anthony, going by "Bomb". Plus a young girl who makes illusions ("Holo") and a Native American hairy sumbitch named "Yeti". Charles Xavier and Magneto have turned them down. Bolivar Trask is whining to some government suits about getting funded for his "Project:Sentinel", when an evil mutant named "Virus" shows up to do their dirty work.

I could get into this...if there hadn't already been so much retconning with the X-men in the last 40+ years. Making Wolverine the lead character of the bunch is just piling on and adding more congestion to his already clogged timeline.

Neal Adams is the penciler and his work is better than his recent outings in modern comics. I think I've been forever stained by his awful Continuity Comics of the 80's and can't look at any of his work, objectively, as it constantly reminds me of that crap.
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Erick Von Erich
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Infinity, Inc-- random issues, vol 1
Have a VERY incomplete collection of this title and it's "why do I still have these"? This may have been not only one of the worst comics of the 80's, but in history. Extremely unlikable characters, romances that come of the blue, second-rate villains, and no overall cohesion between the team. Too much emphasis is placed on the cartoony villain team "Helix" and "who's the mother of Jade and Obsidian?" I'd rank Alpha Flight higher than this shlop.

The dynamic between Fury and Silver Scarab is weird. They start out as a couple and are sort of the glue holding the team together. But Scarab gets all weird and possessed by aliens or something, so Fury runs off and cheats on him with Nuklon. When Scarab finally becomes this "evil" robotic being, there's zero emotional fallout from Fury.

Fairly well-known, but this was the book where Todd McFarlane developed his style. He has some bizarre panel layouts-- such as a pin-up shot of Jade in the middle of a random page; completely unrelated to the story.

One such pin-up shot around issue 28 or so features the Psycho Pirate... with his cape flapping around him, just like Spawn (or his late 80's Batman shots). A few issues later, he applies the same treatment to Obsidian. So it's kinda' funny how, of all characters, Psycho Pirate and Obsidian were his "test cases" for what became his distinctive cape shots.
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Mad Dog
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I have the whole run of those and the All-Star Squadron from the same time period. That's on my to do list.

Batman Beyond #1-2,

This is the digital first series. Essentially it's 99 cents and they release about 12 pages or so an issue. They also have a Justice League Beyond and Superman Beyond that gets released digitally as well.

This dealt with a number of Joker gangs showing up in Gotham. Terry took out a couple of them while his now ex-girlfriend Dana's brother appears to be maneuvering these gangs into conflicts with Batman behind the scenes. I really enjoyed the 2 issues I read. They had a more old school comic kind of feel to them. I might actually go ahead ad buy issues 3 and 4 to read tomorrow.

I'm excited about the Beyond titles. It would be nice to have a tiny little universe that's easy to follow for cheap. The Superman book is unfortunately written by JT Krul so we'll see if he can actually put out good work for once. I'll probably dig into the Justice League Beyond book tomorrow.
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Mad Dog
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Justice League Beyond #1-2:

Batman joins up with the team and they fight the Joker gang from the Return of the Joker movie. After that, they have a rescue mission to do. Micron tried to infiltrate Kobra but it appears he might have joined up with them instead. I enjoyed this book a lot. It fit in ton with Batman Beyond really well.

Superman Beyond #1-2:

Superman runs into the new special division of the Metropolis police. They have armor and can mimic his powers to a degree. This chick also wanders around being angst ridden until she is given a key card and finds out that her dad is Lex Luthor to end the issue. I'm going to give this another couple of issues but I didn't care very much for it. Superman was kind of whiny and said some things that show Krul has no idea about the Superman character.

Also, for as much as Justice League and Batman felt together in tone and universe. This didn't feel like it fit those books at all. The tone was off compared to the other two books. This was easily the weakest of the 3 titles 2 issues in.

Anyways, I'll probably buy issues 3-4 of all three titles today and see what I think.
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The Swigg Lebowski
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Superman is a very challenging character for a lot of writers because they just look at his powerset and see a god. They ignore the fact that he's a person underneath all that. (which could get me started on a rant about the new movie, but I'll hold off on that)

Animal Man
I picked up the trade hardcover at my library. I do like the connection made to Swamp Thing, and the fact that he's a family man. But it's a lot weaker than I expected with all the love it's getting. The relationship between him and his wife is really shallow, as is the relationships between him and his kids. Not in the "I don't know you" way, but in the "I didn't write this well" way. It also felt really hollow compared to the "horror" comics I've read. Even the Vertigo ones. I may pick up just the next one just to see Swamp Thing
Scrooge McSuck
 
I'm too hefty for my slacks. The zippers off it's tracks. I've stretched it to the maa-a-a-a-x.
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Mad Dog
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I liked Animal Man for about 8 issues and then it just came to a total halt story wise. It hasn't been a good book for awhile.
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