Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 36 - THIS BATTLEFIELD EARTH


Micronauts vol.1 No.36 (Dec 1981)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Keith Giffen/Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Jean Simek
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Tm Defalco
EIC: Jim Shooter

A fire extinguisher is used as a weapon.
The temptation to make this entry in the series just a single-sentence review is tempting. This is because this really doesn't warrant much more than a single sentence summary -- there's just not enough going on. Here, watch this:

"The Micronauts go the Earth again for no reason and beat up dumber Micronauts until it's over."

That was it, good night.

The M'nauts do, indeed, go to Earth again, having passed through the Spacewall when fleeing Deadzone and the Dog Soldier armies of Argon. They've ended up in an elementary school in an undisclosed location -- you'll remember that Mantlo has previously been explicit in where the stories take place, so it's weird to have a Generic Elementary School used as a setting -- where the gimmick of the story is exclusively "What normal sized thing can be used as a huge weapon against tiny alien ships?"

This series is gonna become excoriations if the quality don't pick up.

A tack is used as a weapon.
 I mean, let's see -- the Death Squad is still fighting the Micronauts, and that Repto has joined them for no reason. Battleaxe of the Death Squad turns out to be Karza's former chief scientist Degrayde for no compelling reason, and Mari continues to be a straw-woman feminist. Devil says "To the devil" again, third time in as many issues, and the Endeavor makes a last minute save again, just like last issue. Oh, and the bad guys now invoke Dallan and Sepsis, the gods of rebellion. I think this book has lost the plot -- compared to the first few issues, this is kiddie-wink stuff.

And that really is it. As individual issues go, this is non-existent. There's also no letter column for me to quote from or drop in images, and there's not much to say about Keith Giffen's pencils except that it would have been fun if he'd done this in his faux-Kirby style.

I guess maybe I can describe the ads? Lifesavers did a wordfind, that's fun. Coulda won a Lifesavers pencil case if I'd submitted an entry. Grit, they got Grit ... looks like you could get a 14 carat gold chain for eight bucks if you order before the end of the year. Good news for juvenile guidos.

Saturday morning lineups here -- oh, hey, The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam, that was fun, I remember that. CBS had Blackstarr, which is great, but everything else was Kwicky Koala and Trollkins.

Bubble Yum, here's a Bubble Yum ad. Willie Wonka, too. I don't remember what a "Skrunh" bar, was, might be before my time. Hostess ad, of course, and something called the Youth Opportunity Sales Club with a logo that looks like some sort of homegrown Hitler Youth association. Back cover advertised those MPC model kits for the Empire Strikes Back, if you wanted a sculpture of Luke Skywalker hunkering down in front of a mud yurt for your bookshelf. Good ads, here, nice ones, I like the ads. Good work over at the ad department this issue, let's give 'em the credit that's due.

A globe is used as a weapon.

Friday, September 22, 2017

THE NOWHERE-NEAR COMPLETE GUIDE TO ADVERTISING MASCOT SUPERHEROES : TURNING JAPANESE

I know I just did it, but I call a moratorium on discussing Japanese anything under the heading of "Turning Japanese." It was already dull and dead in the water when Kirsten Dunst recorded a video for it, for some ungodly reason. Now it's coughing and cold, but it hasn't stopped moving yet. Someone put a shovel through its neck.

ANYWAY. Japan does invest heavily in the mascot game, most notably picking mascots for entire towns and prefectures. I approve of this. I myself will invent some ridiculous blasted hellscape for my old hometown of Tucson. Let me get on drawing a desiccated lizard who is also really alarmingly racist against Mexicans.

Here's my warning, though: I literally don't know who a bunch of these people are, or only vaguely understand them, although they appear straightforward enough. I blame cultural, um ... Marxism? Maybe, I just hear that on Twitter a lot ...

"Jake the dog and Fukuoa-Man the human..."

F(ukuoa)-Man (Fukuoa Now Magazine)
This propellor-headed superhero (he counts, guys, he counts. He's a spaceman/helicoper maybe, but they describe him as a superhero everywhere I could find info about him) is evidently called F-Man to make it easier for English-speaking people to refer to him. Also probably they didn't want his name shoretened to "Fuk-Man," but then they called him "F-Man" so I don't think anyone's a winner.



Rapi:tldier (Rapit Train Line, Osaka)
Rapi:tldier is not only utterly unpronounceable, but he's one of very few superheroes whose design is based on a train. I can think of no others, but I'm sure someone thought he was being clever and created something called "Locomotive Breath," is my guess. I don't know every comic book super-character instinctively, folks, sometimes it's a struggle.

What makes Rapi:tldier fascinating, besides the conscious choice to make his name utterly unpronounceable, is the promotional video which introduces him to a curious public. It is seventeen minutes of low-budget curiosity made flesh. Video. Well, video is the new flesh, I guess.



This person (I don't know.)
This is a superhero whose head is a bowl of noodles. Now you know as much as I do.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN : SHAMAN AND FLAME



I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out not only why these characters are called Shaman and Flame (no motivation, origin or explanation is given), or who even created these characters (Louis Ravielli is the artist, but no author is listed on any of the sources I frequent), but whatever the case, I kind of like them.

There's a real Will Eisner feeling to the story, not to mention the splash panel in the first place (although it lacks the architectural layout of an Eisner page, but it's cleverly introducing the idea of a school for crimefighting crook experts). The entire concept revolves around a crook named Slick Summers choosing to open a correspondence school for would-be crimefighters, private eyes, amateur detectives and so on. The hook of the story is that the "final exam" for these students involves actually pulling off a heist -- which Summers' men have assured the students is merely faked, with the approval of the bank and museum managers whose establishments are targeted.

I love the premise to this story, and have loved it
each of the, like, five times I've seen other Golden
Age comics employ it ...
This is a very good, classic golden age comics kind of plot, to the degree that it should be enshrined on a golden record and shot into space. Here's the problem, though ... the heroes.

Shaman and Flame -- The Dynamic Duet! -- are Don Wickett and Kandy Wilson, broadcasters for radio station WWGL and presenters of the Knickerbocker Chronicle Dispatch, "the first radio to do facsimile broadcasting of a newspaper." If your reaction to this revelation is "so fucking what," congratulations, we're twinsies.

Shaman and Flame have some groovy looking costumes and a suave Jet Car for getting around, but are otherwise evidently unpowered. Although Shaman boasts these large, loose boots which must have gotten all kinds of glass shards in them when he and Flame crash through a bank window, and yet he never complained, so ... I guess that's a power?

In the end, it's not so much Shaman and Flame who rout Slick Summers and his school of crooks, but rather their patsy Homer Hummer and a few of the other hornswoggled students. Still, at least they get "another exciting headline" out of the deal -- "Shaman and Flame Capture Criminals...."

I swear, the ellipses were actually in the headline which they showed us. The Knickerbocker Chronicle Dispatch uses ellipses in its headline. I wonder if they invented hashtags, too.

Riding in slick jetcars with boys.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING : THE HANDYMAN


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...



A new element is added to Swamp Thing's backstory, but it doesn't actually make any difference or add any new depth to the character, so why even bother? I dunno. Let's call this one quits right here, shall we?







Anyway. This episode plays its cards very close to its vest, and unveils the premise throughout the medium of flashbacks -- otherwise known as "the most respected storytelling device in fiction." Also, it's loaded up with Chekov's Guns, except never for a gun. Chekov's hay fever, this episode has, literally has Chekov's Hay Fever. That's one for the books. Write it down.

A tuxedo'ed man is shown driving down the highway, blasting classical music with the sun roof open. Ah, youth. Turns out that this is esteemed and reclusive scientist Professor Bukovski (Key Howard), on his way to a phony awards ceremony which Anton Arcane (Mark Lindsay Chapman) set up in order to steal a lot of his peers' collective research. He will do this using people dressed like novelty strippers. Bear with me.

I swear this is Winston Wolf.

Bukovski is pulled over for no apparent reason by a twitchy, over-aggressive cop, which isn't all that surprising. If the 21st Century had a mascot, it would be a twitchy, over-aggressive cop pulling you over for no reason and leaving your corpse in a swamp. SPOILER ALERT! Bukovski's corpse ends up in the swamp.

This is because the cop is not a cop but rather a hardened killer (see above). He is, in fact, the late General Sunderland's go-to mercenary, "The Handyman" (Jordan Williams). He changes clothes with the shot-off-screen Bukovski -- in fact, he trades clothes, taking the time to dress the deceased professor in a cop uniform before burying him. Seems like it was a bit of a waste of time, that, but it's the personal touches. In any case, now decked out in the Professor's kit, the Handyman manages to infiltrate Arcane's little party, which is weird because Bukovski was a recluse and no one knew what he looked like? It was pretty well-established in the episode. He coulda just slashed the dude's tires.

No expense was spared.

As for the party, Arcane has set up a phony $500,000 prize and a giant bowling trophy for the best presentation at the doohickey, which he intends to award himself. Meanwhile, the hotel staff -- all Arcane's hirelings, and all dressed like sexy French Maids and poolboys, as though any second it's gonna turn into a Shriner's convention -- sneak around and rifle through all of the visiting scientists' briefcases.

Oh, and Arcane is being assisted by a new underling, Stella (Robin O'Dell), who has BAD HAY FEVER. Actually, she had been exposed to weaponized pollen, but that off-handed remark goes nowhere. Whatever the case, stay tuned for that sneeze!

"And be sure to pay Video Aces, my favorite video company ..."

Swamp Thing, for his part, has found Bukovski's corpse and is playing it like an accordion, grabbing the last loose memories the dead man can offer. This turns into one of three different flashbacks in the episode which pits pre-Swamped Alec Holland (Patrick Neil Quinn) against The Handyman in three different lousy disguises and on three different occasions. The last of those occasions? BLOWING UP THE HOLLAND'S LAB! Oh my god! Arcane DIDN'T kill Linda Holland, it turns out! This guy we just heard of for the first time did! Well that changes everything (nothing).

This is how every guy on the r/TheRedPill dresses all the time.

This effectively gives Swamp Thing a Joe Chill, a guy against whom he can direct the core of his wrath, a guy responsible for the path that took him through pain and loss to a newfound, individualistic becoming. Like Batman, this is the guy who turned Swamp Thing into a vigilante crimefighter, by which I mean he turned Swamp Thing into a potato.

Meanwhile, back at the party, Handyman has chained everyone together and set up a motion-detecting bomb in the room. If anyone so much as sneezes, it'll go off! Thankfully, no one here has hay feveOH SHIT I FORGOT ABOUT STELLA!

"Ah -- ahh -- ahhh -- KABOOM!"

Luckily, Swamp Thing had been talking to Bukovski's boutonniere ("Tell me, little flower," he says to it in the best scene the show has ever had), and he's put the bomb out by -- I think -- peeing on it. Water comes dripping from some plants which were happily positioned over the bomb, but I have to imagine that's Swampy's piss.

Liberated from the threat of utter destruction, Arcane pursues the fleeing Handyman, Swamp Thing hot on his trail. You know, for as fast as the guy to run. It's not like he's got some kind of Marsh Buggy or Bog Rover, you know (oh, wait ...)

BRB, going to eBay ...

 The finale involves a foot chase and Swamp Thing pretending that he can get knocked down by gunfire. Arcane chases Handyman with the defused bomb and keeps threatening him with it, which is ... maybe I don't know how bombs work. I don't think you just throw five sticks of dynamite into a fleeing boat and they explode. But that's sort of what happens! Just as he pilots the boat into the Universal Studios stunt show! That's gonna hurt ticket sales.

"I can only watch you eat, my face pressed up against the window paa-aa-aane ..."

The end of the episode is possibly the most fatalistic voice over Swamp Thing's ever done as he wanders back into the bogwater: "A score has been settled. The man who killed the woman I love and made me the strange creature that I am has been destroyed. But there is no [something, I couldn't make it out]. No wrong has been righted. It will never bring back all that I loved and that I lost..." Thanks for underlining the dumb problem with this episode, Emo Thing!

Charles Foster Kane is back ... and he's pissed!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 35 - THE ORIGIN OF THE MICROVERSE


Micronauts vol.1 No.35 (Nov 1981)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Val Mayerik/Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Tom Defalco
EIC: Jim Shooter

Well, Broderick is gone, and the book starts looking like every other low-selling book on the early 80s Marvel lineup. Honestly, with this tiresome Swordquest-lookin' story, plugged-in Faux-verine character Devil, and bog-standard artwork, it's impressive to realize that this goes another 30+ issues. I got my fingers crossed that it'll get better.

This is the big, double-sized issue which reveals the origin  of the Microverse. This would be great if it weren't, you know ... listen, maybe this revelation will be your cup of tea. It didn't do much for me, personally speaking. Stay tuned to decide if you're disappointed, too.

Booooooo.
Pharoid and Slug turn against Argon, giving the Micronauts a chance to beat cheeks for the Deadzone, based on a book by Stephen King. Argon, however, is in full Baron Karza cosplay and is gunning for them, hot on their tails. This is mostly an opportunity for Devil to talk like a dumb shit and hurl things at pursuing ships, and also I hate this character a lot.

Meanwhile, already in Deadzone and finally having beat off all of those demons*, Strange discovers the fucking origin of the fucking Microverse fucking finally. Will the wait be justified by the payoff? No, but pretend I didn't say that and stick around for the answer.

*I phrased that poorly

Aliens from space -- survivors of a thousand lost worlds, led by Prince Wayfinder of the planet Ithaka, in upstate New York -- land on primordial Earth, there to found a home "in the name of the homeless and displaced. Let all be content, and wage war no more."

It's a nice sentiment, but the prehistoric Earth is loaded with dinosaurs and DEMONS, the hateful jerks. When the aliens build a great city, the demons gather to destroy it, launching a huge dumb war. With the power of his enchanted blade, the Sword-In-The-Star*, Wayfinder manages to summon the power of the Time Traveler to this distant era, and tap the Enigma Force to imprison the demons for ... as long as they were imprisoned, I guess.

*Surely it should be the other way around...

"Let us build an Applebee's."
From here, everything appears to happen quickly, but it really doesn't -- it's a small amount of content spread out over some very chaste fighting. You'll possibly remember that early issues of the Micronauts pulled no punches in its fight scenes -- soldier and innocents alike were killed, maimed and purposefully hurt in the course of the battle, and collateral damage was high. In the scenes to follow, things will be pretty clean and fairly typical of your average comic book from the era.

Fireflyte uses her connection to the Enigma Force to rebind the demons, which is a super-lazy resolution to this threat that's been bouncing Dr.Strange up and down the driveway for the last three issues. When Argon and his Dog Soldiers catch up the Micronauts, they announce themselves with a volley of artillery which does little more than throw up some dirt, like low-budget squibs, and then ... and then Argon's "Death Squad" shows up.

The Death Squad sucks and are stupid. They are wildly unimaginative and arbitrary, and they feel like someone's bad idea of what a popular kids' toy line might feature, because they've associated "kids" with "tacky, stupid and willing to settle for whatever." The Death Squad is:
  • Ampzilla, who looks like a sassy fat Godzilla with a bunch of walkman stapled to his head and chest.
  • Battleaxe, who has an axe for a hand ... and a hand for an axe!
  • Lobros, the Power-Parasite, who legitimately looks like a Muppet wearing a fish for a tuxedo.
  • And Centauria, who is a centaur. By the way, I may not have introduced myself before now -- I'm Humano, the human.
  • There's also a Repto who just shows up out of nowhere.
Are they fucking kidding me?
Just as the battle starts, the demos break free, I guess to give Dr.Strange someone to fight. Rann and Fireflyte go to the temple to engage the power of Wayfinder, who is Rann's direct ancestor apparently. Everyone else fights Death Squad people. Demons briefly punch Rann all the way to Earth, to illustrate how this battle threatens the safety of Earth as well as the Microverse. Oh, and if I needed any better proof that it's the editor who's encouraging a lot of these terrible changes, Rann actually employs the most tired line in comics -- "Get out of my mind!" -- at one point. 

(It's not super relevant, but there's a subplot involving Nanotron and Microtron traversing Sandzone to recover the Endeavor. They'll eventually use it for the purposes of "You're all clear, kid, now let's blow this thing and go home"-ing the final battle, so expect that. A cutaway back to them, however, focuses on Microtron blowing compressed air through Nanotron's circuits to revive and, um, clean out the cobwebs, as it were? I think Microtron and Nanotron fucked in the desert, is what I'm saying)

They're having sex, right?

Let's see -- as the battle climaxes*, the statues of the dead champions start glowing with eldritch power, the keys are inserted into whatever hokey science-thing makes use of their power, and Dr.Strange and Rann are fused together as Captain Universe, The Hero Who Actually Wasn't All That Impressive At The Time. `Still, they defeat the demons, so that's nice I guess. Oh, and the origin of the Microverse is that the alien champions from India made it up. Well worth the wait.

*And also, for all I know, Microtron and Nanotron too ...

When the Endeavor saves the day, the Micronauts fuck off for Earth, pursued by Argon's Death Squad. Mm.

Lettercol fun! Sort of, the letter columns back, and this guy wrote a terrible poem about it!




Thursday, September 14, 2017

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN : REX THE SEEING-EYE DOG



Animal crimefighters are a fun-sounding idea which, more often than not, turn out to be a lot darker than the concept would suggest. For every Detective Chimp, there's a half-dozen crimefighting dogs, horses and ... uh, marmots? I dunno ... who keep finding themselves standing between the mob and innocents, or become involved in putting a kibosh to murder plots, or break up kidnapping rings. I mean, this isn't even a comic book problem, have you ever seen The Littlest Hobo? With a title like that, there should be musical numbers ...

Something is wrong with that lion.
Well, anyway here's Rex the Seeing Eye Dog, as far as I'm aware the only one of this breed of vigilantimal (copyright me, just now) who stands a very good chance of dragging a blind man to his death during one of his adventures. Previously, you had to be Daredevil or Dr.Mid-Nite to be a blind man in as much peril as this. It's a real step forward for human rights.

Rex is a service dog for Dan Baxter, the owner of Baxter's Circus and -- like all comic book circuses -- an institution rife with murder and racketeering. No wonder Ringling Bros is shutting down.

Baxter's circus really is a cesspool of anger and violence. On the very first page, we see bad trapeze man Karl haranguing good trapeze lady (and Baxter's daughter) Laura. Also, the circus' animal dealer, Jeffries, is threatening to take over the circus if the Baxters don't pay for a recent order of wild animals. Raise your hand if that's happened to you. I mean, if I had a nickel ...

Things get even more out of hand when a cart containing a vicious lion has its brakes cut loose, and it goes rolling through the crowd -- but Rex is there to stop it! He leaps on the roof to manage the brakes, which probably I wouldn't have put in a place where only a dog could get to it, but who am I, the boss of circus lion carts? Not anymore, I'm not, not since they started putting the brakes up on the top of the carts.

Rex! Get the gun!
Bruno the strongman is also murdered at this point, a crime which Rex could not stop. In fact, where was Rex when Bruno was murdered? Someone keep an eye on that dog, he's clever.

He's so clever, in fact, that he appears to be able to convey information to his blind master. When Laura is almost killed due to a faulty trapeze line (which, by the way, Rex presaged from his seat in the bleachers), Dan sics Rex on a figure dashing away. "Someone's trying to escape! Catch him, Rex!" Uh, not to be insensitive, and I do have friends with severely impaired vision so I know that blindness is a spectrum and all that, but Dan you better be fucking sure before you set the dogs on that man.

Of course, it pays off ... Karl and Jeffries are in cahoots, not only rigging Laura's near-demise and loosing the lion, but robbing the box office and passing some counterfeit cash into the mix. Amazingly, it's Rex who manages to coerce a confession out of Jeffries, solving the case.

The story ends with a text box celebrating seeing eye dogs and encouraging the kids who're reading the comic to do nice things for blind people, like helping them across streets and putting them on buses. You know, basically, trying to convince kids to be seeing eye dogs. I'm for it, gives the tots something to do in the Summer.

I forgot to mention "Tom the Midget," who does as much to
catch the crooks as Rex does, really.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING : EASY PREY


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...



Hey, it's the first "sentient bird on the run" storyline in a Swamp Thing episode since "Falco" all the way back at the beginning of the first season. Gosh, I was beginning to think we'd never get to see any more longshots of hawks flying around against a clear blue sky that gives you no context for where they are or how fast they're moving. Am I ever satisfied with the change in direction!

Easy Prey isn't a very good episode, by which I mean it's pretty bad. Now, normally, if the episode was also as anemic as this one, I'd say "Fortunately, basically nothing happened." Instead I have to say "Unfortunately, I have to pad this out to at least five hundred words so that this article is as substantial -- judging by word count, anyway -- as all the other entries in the series. How'd I do? Someone count those. Meanwhile, here's the complete lyrics to British Prog Rock legends Genesis' 23-minute long 1972 concept album landmark track Supper's Ready ...

"I'm ... HUGE!"

Rich dick dad Tom Crown (Lou Bedford) takes his ungrateful, rat-faced son Jason (Bently Tittle, if you can fucking believe it) out to the swamps of Houma to kill things. Yes, Tom likes corporate acquisitions, crushing his enemies, capitalism and murdering things that cannot fight back. Jason ... does not? I don't know what he's opposed to, he just doesn't do whatever his father does so they can establish conflict in the story, I guess.

Spotting a rare, endangered hawk, Tom takes a potshot at it and wings (haha) the bird (oh no). This causes Swamp LSD Freakout Times for Will, who happens to be sleevelessly paddling through the bog water at this point. Theoretically, Will has been given an opportunity to see the swamp as Swamp Thing does, and apparently seeing the swamp means tripping balls because Will is FUCKED. UP. Swamp Thing literally has him do shit like look at leaves and cup water in his hand, just like the designated driver dude always does when you and a bunch of friends go do peyote in the desert.

"Like ... Alec? What if ... what if God ... is this leaf?"

Tom continues his hunt for the bird, even acquiring Arcane's permission to hunt the squab on his land. Okeedoke. He doesn't otherwise really feature in this episode, but he's nice to have around.

One of the weird things about this episode is that Tom and Jason's dialogue is so rife with exposition, but reveals nothing. We learn everything about these two characters, and it doesn't really shine any light onto them, about their motives or interests or pain or glory. Accusations fly wildly and feelings are hurt, but we could have seen that coming from the first scene.

They open on this shot on one scene, and I laughed for a solid minute.

In fact, I was expecting them to advance the tension to a twist of some sort. I had my hopes pinned on Jason turning out to actually being a stone-cold killer and murdering his dad in the swamp for the inheritance. But that didn't happen ... the tension stayed consistent, and that was hard to endure.

Even when Will is accidentally shot in the chest -- absolutely one of my favorite things that happens on this show, Will getting nearly murdered, every third episode or so -- there's not much added to the plot or pacing. Also, turns out that the wounded hawk has a mate. Also adds nothing to the episode.

Plus? That face.

The whole thing is, for some reason, centered around father and son Crown. Unfortunately, their storyline has no staying power. The hawks, sort of a B plot, I guess, seem fine and the wounded one has clearly just got ketchup on her feathers. The C plot of Will being high as fuck pays off in that he can telepathically tell the male hawk to, like, relax and don't worry about things. This fucking episode.

You know what it did have going for it, though? On two different occasions, this happens:

SWAMP HAWK

Monday, September 11, 2017

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 34 - BETRAYAL


Micronauts vol.1 No.34 (Oct 1981)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick/Danny Bulandi
Letterer: D.Albers
Colorist: B.Sharen
Editor: Tom De Falco
EIC: Jim Shooter

Bob Layton and Klaus Janson on cover duties, which I'd normally be excited about except that I think it's the worst cover on a Micronauts book to date. Also, Devil gets to feature in the corner indicia, and that's bogus, because he hasn't even joined the team yet AND he gets a cover appearance. Someone clearly thinks Devil's gonna be this book's Wolvering ... in fact, stay tuned about that.

Speaking of whoever that's gonna turn out to be, they keep spelling DeFalco's name differently in each issue's credit box. Don't blame me if I get it wrong, blame 1981.

As the last penis-shaped ice
tower falls ...
The core group of Micronauts makes their way to the Sandzone and Prince Pharoid's subterranean city of Aegyptia, birthplace of Karza. The M'nauts barely have time to drink in the revelation that Acroyear is alive and has acquired the vital third key (plus exciting news about the Enigma Force, right from the Time Traveler's mouth) before they're beset by Pharoid's men. On the command of Argon, who wears his Force Commander armor and has stationed himself in Aegyptia (symmetry, anyone?) the Micronauts are captured -- including A'yo and Devil, bound by crazy looking space shackles.

 The capture does't last long -- chided by his conscience and the disappointed soldiers under his command, Pharoid commits to freeing the Micronauts and helping their escape. This leads to a big battle and the weird phenomenon of Rann invoking the names of his dead parents as an oath. Hanging out with Marionette has given the guy a touch of the old-time religion, evidently.

Meanwhile, Dr.Strange is still at the temple of the five champions who founded the Microverse, with demons crawling up his backside. We're briefly made aware that the Enigma Force had, primarily, been keeping demons from destroying the Microverse. Enhhhhh ... naw, that's not necessary.  We are forced to read that stupid prophecy again, so just so you won't forget it:

A time of darkness will there be;
Of great distress on land and sea!
Find thyselves, and thou wilt find me --
The secret lies in these keys three!
Back in Aegyptia, all hell has broken loose and a full-scale battle is going on between the Aegyptians and the Micronauts versus Argon and the Dog Soldiers he has surprisingly employed. The battle is just gooey, loud nonsense for the most part, with two notable exceptions.

Boooooo.
Acroyear -- who has his sight back, by the way, I should have mentioned that before now* -- only reluctantly fights the Dog Soldiers.  "It saddens me to battle you" he declares as he cuts down three soldiers with a single swipe of his blade, "There is no glory in dealing death. No glory at all." I harbor the suspicion that my boy A'yo is Mantlo's favorite character (tied with Bug, maybe), and so he gets the crunchy dialogue.

*So he gets his sight back and the question is -- why'd he lose it in the first place? It added nothing to the narrative or character. I got no joke here, it was just really lazy plotting.

The other thing worth mentioning is that Devil sucks and I hate him. I mentioned earlier that he's clearly being groomed as the Wolverine of this book, and that manifests itself with his becoming a crazy, carnage-happy murder-ape. He originally said he doesn't like to fight, but now he's hungry for it, with no real explanation. I hate it. He also picks up a catchphrase which I hate even more -- as he hucks some dude around like a rag doll, he bellows "You're going ... to the Devil!" Fuck that. That is awful. That should not have happened.

Let's see ... Rann knocks the tar out of Argon and grabs the purloined keys. Mari beats additional amounts of tar out of Degrayde, Karza's former chief scientist who now works for the corrupted Argon, and Nanotron joins the team. Whooptie doodle, although it does up the female side of the roster (although Fireflyte remains the only lady Micronaut who isn't another Micronaut's girlfriend). The scene in which Marionette encourages Nanotron to join them underlines a new and very tired direction in Marionette's character -- she's a slogan-shouting women's libber. Her already-threadbare personality will soon be reduced to spouting cliches like "Because I'm a woman???" and "Do you doubt my abilities because I'm a woman??" and "Remember Commander, I'm a woman!" and ... she's like the only actual woman on the crew,  why make her personality "Keeps reminding people that she's a woman"? There are better ways to portray a newly-awakened feminist character, all of which are preferable outside of the ones suggested by tubby guys with low-resolution YouTube channels ...

No letter column again, and the big finale is coming up next issue, with Argon hot on the Micronauts' tails towards Deadzone! I have forgotten every Christopher Walken joke I know, but I'll try to remember some by the time we get to next week ...

He doesn't have any pockets on that loincloth, where was she hiding?

Friday, September 8, 2017

THE NOWHERE-NEAR COMPLETE GUIDE TO ADVERTISING MASCOT SUPERHEROES : DRUGS!

Oh my god, let's get high and make mascots!

The pharmaceutical industry seems to live and die on superhero mascots, conflating the singular purpose and flawless heroism of costumed crusaders with the price-gouging and shortcut-taking which typifies Big Pharma. Actually, all superheroes are ideological lies wherein the rebel is actually the authority fink. Individualistic vigilantism in the name of law, order and the status quo is just the tyranny of the mundane and complacent. Enjoy your superhero comics, folks! Meanwhile, here's some heroes promoting the pharmaceutical industry!

Today we mourn the passing of Buddie, who crossed paths with Kevin Smith early this morning.

Buddie (ResponsibleOhio)
Creating, as it were, a significant buzz owing exclusively to his appearance -- and the argued inappropriateness of a Joe Camel-like mascot for cannabis legalization -- Buddie is an ill-advised, albeit obvious and hard-to-ignore mascot for the legalized/medical marijuana movement. Which is hilarious when you try to picture how someone who's totally fucked up on weed trying to walk.

If you wonder where I might fall on the question of legalizing marijuana, please recall that the last time we did this I agitated for Universal Basic Income. Also, I live in Seattle. Draw your own conclusions.


Samarium (Takeda Pharmaceuticals and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America)
Marvel Comics actually designed the hero for this very specific symptom of the ailments described in the above name -- Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Samarium's super-power is nanite-powered armor, because that's how you cure IBD, I think. I don't know, it's hard to figure out these Marvel-made advertising superheroes. I'm still trying to figure out if Vapora was pro- or anti-misuse-of-gasoline.

PhrmaIntern (PHRMA)
I don't believe PhrmaIntern is a legitimate mascot, but I stumbled across her while researching this article and I'm delighted both by the MSPaint manipulations of old Supergirl art and also panels like this:



Irritabelle (Viberzi)
She's not a superhero, but I thought it was worth mentioning that the sexy, naked personification of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is named "Irritabelle." I learned that recently and wanted to share.

C'mon, you would. You know you would.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

TRULY GONE&FORGOTTEN : MR.IN-BETWEEN

Enough of this guy ...

What exactly is Mister In-Between meant to be between? A rock and a hard place? The Devil and the deep blue sea? Meals? Jobs? Relationships? No, not according to his introductory caption -- he stands in-between the law and the underworld! I guess he's Alt-Center.

What Mr.In-Between means by standing between the two extremes of society is that he's a private investigator and he will take money to beat up crooks. Sounds to me like he's actually a garden-variety capitalist and, by that reckoning, he has picked a side between law-and-order and criminality: He's picked both.

Our real hero.
Carter Mason, a.k.a. Mister In-Between, is a tough-guy detective much in the vein of Vernon Henkel's catalog of creative work. He boasts no super-powers except deduction and the lucky ability to dodge bullets, and a willingness to slug crooks or tell off the cops.

In fact, Mr.I-B isn't nearly the most interesting character in this singular strip -- that honor falls to Phineas P.Bizzy, a weird dude in a bowler who is, to all appearances, the wacky sidekick of the story. He is, however, ten times better prepared for trouble than Mr.In-Between and has a better backstory.

Bizzy joins the fray whilst eavesdropping on a crook who's calling in to his superior, blithely acquitting the widow of the murder of which she'd been accused. It's a bit of luck on Bizzy's lunchbreak, but he makes pretty good opportunity out of it. Specifically, he hucks a smoke bomb at a bunch of cops who're hauling the suspect away, punching a couple of patrolmen and absconding with the girl AND "our hero." Seems like maybe Mr.In-Between is actually in-between usefulness and sidekickery.

The origin of Phineas P.Bizzy is that he's an adventurous sort of fellow who's trapped in a dead-end pickle business. Successful but bored, he goes around solving crimes and getting into trouble in his spare time. Two other things you should know about Phineas: He hangs out in dive bars and is well-acquainted with the seamy side of the city, such as the nightclub called The Red Door which has *gasp* belly-dancing inside!

As catchphrases go ... this owns.
The other thing you need to know about Phineas P.Bizzy is that he always carries a pickle with him. Imagine saying that to someone in a very serious voice. Imagine saying that to Vinnie Jones or someone like that, some action star, just before your whole paramilitary crew deploys. "One thing you got to remember about Bizzy ... he always carries a pickle with him." Then they all basejump into a volcano.

While Mr.In-Between does all the grunt work -- dodging bullets, shooting crooks, breaking into offices -- Bizzy bides his time and catches the bad guys (the DA was responsible, for some reason I don't care about) while announcing his colorful catchphrase: "Pardon me! Have a pickle?" It's a good character. I could turn that into a twelve issue series with a heart-breaking third act in a story called, like, "Revelations" or "You Can't Go Home Again" or "Quite a Pickle" or something like that...

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