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2015 Weekly Comic Buys n' Reads
Topic Started: Jan 2 2015, 08:43 AM (8,978 Views)
Erick Von Erich
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I'm Big E and I tell it like it is
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After 30-some years of collecting, I'm finally down to ONE new comic book a month. Pretty much given up on modern Marvel and DC stuff and I really have no excitement over the pending "Secret Wars" event of 2015.

With THAT inspiring intro, here's some old stuff I'm continuing to read:

Iron Fist #11-12 (1977)
The Wrecking Crew returns to NYC, looking for revenge on Thor. Written as complete dunderheads, they take Misty Knight hostage and force Iron Fist to sneak into Avengers Mansion. Captain America's the only one there, as he and Iron Fist work together to set a trap for the Crew.

I'm never shy about my love for the Crew, as they're complete simpletons and great bad guys you can instantly toss against almost any hero. While Wrecker, Piledriver and Bulldozer act like three mooks from "Joisey", Thunderball is accurately given better dialogue and (sort of) acts like the educated doctor he is.

Iron Fist #13
Iron Fist helps his new buddy, Alan Cavenaugh and runs into Boomerang. Boomerang became a good, one-spot, villain for the 80's, but this is his big return and re-tooling since his original 1960's appearances against the Hulk.

Iron Fist #14-15 (1977)
Last two issues of the title. In #14, Iron Fist goes to Canada and runs into Sabretooth (making his first appearance). That's about it, as we go into a seemingly un-related issue #15.

There, Iron Fist goes into Misty Knight's apartment, but she's the roommate of one Jean Grey. Wolverine (in his "Fang" costume) had been stalking Jean and thinks Iron Fist is an intruder. A big cliche Superhero Fight of Misunderstanding takes place as all the X-men arrive.

So why's it related to #14? With a simple line as Iron Fist thinks Wolverine reminds him of Sabretooth and wonders if there could be a connection. Sabretooth even said "bub" a few times in #14. True, this title was done by the X-men team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne, but I had always thought Sabretooth was just pulled out of the blue in late 1986 to become Wolverine's arch enemy during the "Mutant Massacre".

Sabretooth was basically forgotten after the Iron Fist title ended, only appearing to fight Spider-Man and the Black Cat once or twice (and used by different writers). Had Claremont intended for the Sabretooth/Wolverine connection as far back as 1977? Kind of cool.

There's also a mysterious guy who pops up in each issue, promising to kill Iron Fist. He's "Steel Dragon", a guy from the early issues.

Iron Fist moves on to some guest-shots in "Marvel Team-Up", before joining up with Luke Cage on a permanent basis. His solo title is fairly enjoyable, though. They really play up the "Kung Fu action in the Mighty Marvel Manner" references, but I recommend it.
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Erick Von Erich
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Amazing Spider-Man #256-257
257 was the first issue I ever read of "ASM". Looking at it, now, it's actually a pretty significant issue for Spidey.

The Rose hires Puma (Thomas Fireheart) to assassinate Spider-Man. The Black Cat pops up to save him, so Puma eventually tracks Spidey to Peter Parker's apartment. A fight breaks out, right as Mary Jane Watson returns to the scene. Puma is eventually called off from the hit. MJ then comes clean with Peter, saying she's known that he's Spider-Man for awhile, now.

The Hobgoblin also returns, wanting to work with the Rose. The seeds of the eventual "Gang War" are even placed.

In one of those things that used to drive me crazy: Puma's homebase of "Hartsdale, New Mexico" is shown to be a "small town"... which looks just like midtown Manhattan with about 20 skyscrapers! One of the little quirks about Marvel that cracks me up.

The biggest deal is probably the stuff with Black Cat and MJ. When Black Cat is shown in issue 256, she's billed as "Spider-Man's true love". So it's weird that things begin falling apart between her and Spidey in this issue. Their relationship was mostly developed over in "Spectacular Spider-Man", so I'm curious what the original intentions were with her. I never knew that there was a big writer shift for Spider-Man around this time, which affected the plans for Hobgoblin and other stuff.

Since this was my first real exposure to monthly Spidey (outside of cartoons), I've always liked this time period. No JJJ and Aunt May, either. When Mary Jane and Peter married (1987), I was against it, since I preferred Black Cat as his chick. A former villainess going straight because she loved the hero just blew my mind. I remember a mulit-part story involving Doc Ock and the Owl, where Spidey freaks out because her life's in danger. It was actually kinda' sweet, for the time. I remember being upset when they split up in Spectacular Spider-Man #100. I only liked the Peter/MJ wedding because that issue shot up in value... so I thought I had to like it.
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Erick Von Erich
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Avengers & X-men: Sixis #9
Guess what? Since MAGIC was involved, they use MAGIC again, to turn everybody back on their "axis" and revert to normal. No way...never expected that.

Thanks to Iron Man's screwing around, a small group of heroes are left "permanently inverted". This includes Iron Man, Havok, Sabretooth and...maybe one or two others, but it's hard to tell. It's unclear if Loki and Thor make the switch back to normal, as well. Sabretooth sets out to become the new Wolverine, essentially. Havok joins up with Cyclops and Iron Man keeps on being a weenie.

So wait...Cyclops was in this, acting all evil as a result of the inversion process. But at the end, he's shown to be a bad guy. So.... does that mean he wasn't inverted, to begin with, or that he's just misguided in his "normal" mode? Dunno... and don't really care.

This series was heavy on the slugfestin', but the MAGIC outcome was pre-determined. It was all about the heel/babyface turn gimmick. No real memorable moments, so about "average" on the overall rating. I fully expect Sabretooth, Iron Man and Havok to eventually go back to their normal ways within 3 years.

Well, maybe not Havok, since a heel turn might work out okay for him. Might take him longer. Cyclops has remained a heel since his turn in "Avengers vs. X-Men", hasn't he?
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Erick Von Erich
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I think I'll re-read "New Teen Titans" until I get bored. Starting with everything:

DC Comics Presents #27
An extra 16-page preview story of the New Teen Titans. Robin's helping out with a basic hostage situation in NYC, when he has visions of the "future", working with the Titans to fight a weird spore outbreak at STAR labs. Robin has no clue what's going on in the "future". Robin flashes back to the present, saves the hostages, as we get an voice-over from Raven, of how this will all soon happen.

No idea where/when this future story takes place, but somewhere in the first year of the new team. First appearances for Raven, Cyborg and Starfire. The other holdover Titans from the 70's are Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash and Beast Boy, who makes his first appearance as "Changeling".

The actual (unrelated to the Titans) "DC Comics Presents" story is a team-up between Superman and Green Lantern, involving an alien from a different dimension. It's tough to justify, because the alien simply takes off GL's ring and suddenly has all of his powers.

New Teen Titans #1 (1980)
Raven summons all the (new) Titans to fight the alien Gordanians. The Gordanians came to Earth in pursuit of the escaped Starfire. That's about it. Seeds are planted for some form of connection between Raven and Kid Flash (Wally West). West had retired from super-heroing, but after an off-panel visit from Raven, he's back into it.

Of seemingly minor note is that Starfire and the Gordanians crash into the apartment of a young dork named Grant Wilson. Wilson's pissed that they ruined his apartment and goes to the mysterious HIVE for revenge.

New Teen Titans #2
The debut of Deathstroke the Terminator, as he attacks the HIVE. He acts more like Wolverine, especially in his speech. He's not interested in taking the HIVE's contract to kill the Titans. But the HIVE is able to get footage of him, which they'll use for other means.

Grant Wilson's girlfriend dumps him, so he's really pissed off, now. He goes to the HIVE and gets zapped into a wannabe Deathstroke, the Ravager. He fights the team and the real Deathstroke shows up, too.

They act like partners while they fight, but Deathstroke notices that Ravager is "using his powers too much". This drains him into a lifeless state...and he dies. Deathstroke takes him away, as it's revealed that they are father and son. Deathstroke vows to take up the contract on the Titans that his son had.

Big debut for Deathstroke, but he's mostly called "The Terminator", here. He doesn't seem as distinguished as he would be, more like a random 70's Marvel villain. In other stuff: Starfire kisses Robin and absorbs the English language. They tease a relationship between Cyborg and Wonder Girl for all of one page. I thought they didn't exploit Wonder Girl too much, but I forgot that artist George Perez is a pervert and draws her quite voluptuously every chance he gets. Lots of cleavage shots, especially for comics in 1980. Never noticed it before, but Wonder Girl's costume is kinda' similar to Vampirella (dark hair, black hooker boots, red bodysuit, yellow accents).

I also noticed that the heroes simply call their team "The Titans". The "Teen" is rarely mentioned in the context of the stories. Makes sense. If you were a teenaged hero, I don't think you'd want to bill yourself as such.
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Erick Von Erich
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New Teen Titans #3-4
The debut of the Fearsome Five: Dr. Light assembles Psimon, Mammoth, Shimmer and Gizmo, but it turns out everyone's being manipulated by Trigon the Terrible (Raven's dad).

There's a deal about how Raven originally went to the JLA for help, but they misunderstood her, which leads to a big Titans vs JLA fight in issue 4. There's more manipulations, as the Titans are mind-wiped to forget fighting the Five. Trust me, it makes better sense when you read it and it sounds terrible describing it. Basically, Trigon's pending arrival is why Raven assembled the Titans.

"Titans Tower" mysteriously pops up in an island in NYC's East River, and the whole team is suspicious. Yeah, New York City--- one of the few times DC is setting their stories in a "real" city.

The letters page has initial feedback from the preview and house ads. Fans immediately take to comparing it "The New X-Men". Marv Wolfman appreciates the compliment, but clarifies that he's a fan of the X-men stuff and thinks there's room for both (a very honest and democratic answer).
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Erick Von Erich
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New Teen Titans #5
After teasing a full team break-up, due to Raven's manipulations, they're pulled back together when Trigon appears on Earth. They try fighting him, but he only leaves when Raven agrees to "rule by his side as his daughter". So the two zap back to Trigon's world.

New Teen Titans #6
We finally see Trigon back in his world, and he's actually more like a cross between Darkseid and a Conan villain. Very different from what was expected, since he was presented more like a Mephisto or Dormammu type, initially.

The Titans rally to save Raven, thanks to her mom Arella and the pacifist Temple of Azareth. Get used to Azareth, since it'll be referenced until the title dies in 1996. The Titans actually use (somewhat) complicated teamwork to defeat Trigon. They hook up Starfire to Cyborg, with Kid Flash supplying additional power that's all channeled through Wonder Girl's lasso, with Robin directing. It's not just the ol' cliche' "all hold hands and use our life forces", so I appreciated that.

In the end, Arella and Trigon are trapped in some other dimension, fighting forever. Raven's taken back in and the Titans are finally an established "team".

New Teen Titans #7
Kid Flash temporarily leaves the team, while the Fearsome Five return. Actually, they're the Fearsome Four (no Rosey Greer), since they break into Titans Tower to save fifth member Psimon from another dimension.

Pretty decent super-team brawl, as we also get the origin and resolution of Cyborg. His dad was trying to find other dimensions (again with the other dimension stuff?) and an accident caused a flesh-eating thingie to bust through, kill Cyborg's mom and eat away half of Victor Stone (Cyborg). This sorta' ties in to the DC Comics Present preview. The dad felt responsible, so he turned Victor into Cyborg, then secretly built Titans' Tower as another peace offering.

Cyborg had hated his dad, up 'til now. They reconcile and the dad dies of cancer, three months later. A little unconventional to include the 3 month time frame over 2 pages, but I suppose it's a happy way to clean up the issues with Cyborg and his dad. It's a little funny how they're shown jogging, having a picnic and playing baseball together. One of the "happy human drama elements" that the title would be known for.

Only really interesting things in the letters pages are that fans don't really seem to dig Starfire. Several fans initially thought Raven was the daughter of the Phantom Stranger... something which I had never thought of, but I can definitely see the resemblance now.
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JimBob Skeeter
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Sweet. I did get into NTT, but not until later in the run. I'm digging this. I tried Googling images to see if I could recognize a cover around when I started picking it up, but got nuthin', even if I DID get some cool pages of old NTT commix. Man, the art was phenomenal, which was one of the reasons I liked Firestorm and Blue Devil so much back then. Good stories, good art, good times.
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Erick Von Erich
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Awesome, JB. I had a few NTT books, back in their prime, but I never got the whole run until the mid-90's. At that time, I'd always see them in bargain bins for dirt cheap. Never paid cover price for 'em. I think the only two I had to buy at full back issue prices were #1 and #2.

New Teen Titans #8
A catch-up "Day in the Lives" story, as that's the exact title. Shows the Titans doing various little good deeds and a subplot about the Puppeteer is developing. Buncha' time is spent with Raven, and what happens to her when her "soul self" is away for more than 5 minutes (not much: she freaks out and survives).

Cyborg finds his old girlfriend, but she's a total wench and rudely tells him to "just die". Cyborg then finds some kids; all with prostheses; playing in a park. They think he's the coolest thing ever and Cyborg is overjoyed. I think this scene was even borrowed for Cyborg's introduction in "Super Powers: Galactic Guardians", circa 1986.

Wonder Girl gets some significant character development, though. They had hinted she had a decent job, and it's defined as a fashion photographer. She's supposed to be working for an ad agency, but all she ever does is shoot fashion stuff. Starfire wanders in and becomes a model.

Biggest thing is the intro of Wonder Girl's boyfriend, Terry Long. He's an older divorced guy (later revealed to be 25-26). Fans immediately HATE the guy--- probably because Wonder Girl's hot and seeing her hook up with a dork with an afro and beard is not what they expected. Or, if you were a kid in the 80's: Terry Long looked like your frickin' DAD.

Recently I heard that Long's physical appearance closely resembled DC editor Len Wein, at the time. Check out this FB page and picture:
https://www.facebook.com/dccomicsinthe80s/p...306415502881202

So it adds to the theory that the creative team had a crush on Wonder Girl. Write-in your "boss" as the main squeeze of the lead Hot Chick? I think your job is safe for awhile.
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Erick Von Erich
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New Teen Titans #9
Kid Flash returns for a story against a Silver Age revival villain: The Puppeteer (aka "The Puppet Master"). He uses toys and mind-control to get the Titans fighting amongst themselves.

Just a chance to add a new one-shot villain as another notch in the belt. The bigger subplot is about Dayton Industries' "Project: Prometheum", which the HIVE hired Puppeteer to steal (along with killing the Titans). Hints are dropped that Steve Dayton, the former Mento, adopted father of Changeling and CEO of Dayton Industries has been missing for awhile. Deathstroke shows up on the final page to steal parts of Project: Prometheum.

Oh, and Wonder Girl says Terry Long is "ancient. He's at least 29!". His physical appearance is definitely intended for him to be in his 30's... but I think fan outcry causes them to retcon it slightly in future issues, when they say he's 25 or 26.

Going by the "Law of Seven", Terry's still probably too old for Wonder Girl (the old formula that defines: the youngest person you should date is HALF your age, plus SEVEN). So if he's 30, then he should only be messing around with a 22 year old, maximum. If he's 25, then that puts him closer to 19 or 20 as his max. I could buy that as Wonder Girl's intended age, so I'm guessing that's why they eventually make him 25-26.
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Erick Von Erich
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New Teen Titans #10
Terminator (not mentioned as "Deathstroke the") returns, auctioning off plans to the Promethium Project as a new nuclear-type bomb. This brings over 100 "terrorists" to the Grand Canyon (including a "terrorist from the KGB") to watch a demonstration.

Terminator kidnaps Sarah Simms, the cute blonde chick Cyborg met in issue 8, to coerce the Titans into being his bomb test cases. Using their patented teamwork again, they pull a fast one on Terminator and ruin his plans.

Also included is a recap of Changeling/Beast Boy's origin and his connection to the Doom Patrol, specifically Elasti-Girl and Mento (Steve Dayton), his adopted parents. Changeling and Cyborg have a Bonding Moment as they've now become good buddies. Robotman makes a cameo appearance, to set up the hinted "Search for the Doom Patrol" arc. He even thanks Dayton Industries for returning him to his old body. Interesting, because the Doom Patrol was rarely referenced since they had "died" in 1968.

For what it's worth, Robin also references his friend, King Faraday, as providing info on the terrorist rendezvous and Promethium. They're starting to draw Robin's cape a little bit longer and more flowy, like Batman's. The jokes about his short pants have been running since about issue 5.

George Perez seems to have turned his attention to Starfire, now. She's becoming a little more defined (voluptuous) and they even tweaked her costume; removing the worthless "X" that was on her costume's mid-section.
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Erick Von Erich
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Marvel Fanfare #1-4 (volume 1)
From 1981, as it's Marvel first all-in attempt at a "direct only" premium title. Nicer paper, more pages, only sold at comic shops and at $1.25 (compared to the regular 60 cent price of other books).

The first main story arc involves the Angel, Spider-Man and Ka-Zar searching for Karl Lycos (Sauron) in the Savage Land. Spidey goes home after #2 and the X-men arrive to help fight Sauron. Very basic action as the plot relies too heavily on the deus ex machina of an "evolutionary machine". There are some inconsistencies with the crew of "Savage Land Mutates", too.

Wolverine basically walks around saying: "hi, I kill people", as the plot constantly brings this up like it's one of his powers.

In the end, Lycos is saved from his Sauron personality, courtesy of Prof. Xavier. He discovers that Sauron is NOT a mutant (born with it), but was mutated into a different form. I think that was eventually forgotten and Sauron was lumped as "mutant".

I think the original plan for this story probably sounded cool and grandiose, but it failed in execution. Like it was supposed to be the big all-in X-men/Savage Land epic that had been teased since the 60's.

Angel was a fairly frequent guest-star across Marvel at this time (roughly 1980-1982) and he's sort of the main character, here. He kept returning to the X-men for brief stints, but also appeared in Avengers, Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-in-One, amongst others. Almost immediately after this story, he landed in "Defenders".

Back-up stories feature, in order: Daredevil, the FF, Hawkeye and Iron Man (plus a five-page Deathlok story in #4). If you remember the one-shot standalone back-ups that ran in "Marvel Comics Presents" in the late 80's: these are nearly identical. They're all pretty much garbage, especially the Iron Man yarn which is a simple dream Tony Stark has about fighting an unnamed wizard. The Hawkeye story is okay, as it features El Aguila and ties into Hawkeye's developing story about working as the security of Cross Technologies.
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Mad Dog
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Avengers West Coast #1-4 Limited Series & Avengers West Coast #1-20:

Pretty good ride so far. The Tigra arc was really well executed. I was a little bummed that the Thing left after finally agreeing to join but what can you do. I'm currently halfway through the Lost In Time arc which is probably the pinnacle of the series from what I've heard. This series has always been one I've wanted to read. When I was getting into comics they always seemed to have a much cooler roster than the regular Avengers did. I usually read an issue or two before bed so I'm hoping to polish this series off in relatively quick fashion.
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Erick Von Erich
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I forget: how/why did the Thing leave the West Coast Avengers, right after joining? What was the reasoning, both on-screen and behind-the-scenes?

From what I remember, the title begins a nose-dive after the switch to "Avengers: West Coast", circa issue 43 or so (John Byrne). I was really excited when they brought in the Original Human Torch... but they didn't do much with him. At the time, I had been a fan of Byrne's art, but his stint on WCA/AWC really soured me on the guy and made me realize he could do a lot of damage.

For the last 50 issues or so, the title seemed like Triple A Avengers stories and was left to die. But let's be honest: it's not like "Avengers" was an awesome title at the time.
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Mad Dog
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He up and left and told them not to look for him. Later he reveals he started mutating and had to go to the Mole Man to reverse it and then decided to just go back to the FF.
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Mad Dog
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Avengers West Coast #21-23:

That finishes up the Lost in Time arc. Henry Pym is a hero again, Moon Knight is an unofficial member of the team and Wonder Man has been acting like a total twat for several issues now. Since I haven't read this title before I don't know where they're going with that. Be interesting to see how they work out this dispute with Wonder Man and Iron Man. Next issue is the big showdown with Dominus.

There should be tons of fallout from this arc. I'm guessing Mickingbird killing the Phantom Rider is going to impact this book for a long time to come.
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