Girl Genius

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Girl Genius is print/web comic (and prose book) series by Phil and Kaja Foglio.  It is a massive and epic adventure.  They call it a Gaslamp Fantasy, think steampunk cranked to 11 with Frankenstein, zombies and a bit of super hero thrown in.  It has adventure, romance (sort of, a little bit) and a lot of humor.

The world of GG is one where the industrial revolution became a war.  This happened because of “Sparks.”  A spark is someone who is a mad scientist but on a genetic level, think the mutants in Marvel’s X-men, at a young-ish age the spark breaks through and suddenly they are making gadgets, robots, war machines or genetically engineered monsters.  And like Marvel’s Mutants there are levels of power from trinket making to planet (and more ) destroying.  A lot of sparks don’t survive break through because they make something that goes wrong and kills them and sometimes it takes a section of the countryside with or they get attacked by people who don’t want a spark causing trouble.
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One of the most powerful Spark families is the Heterodynes, unfortunately most of them really put the mad in mad scientist.  Among other things the Heterodynes created Jagermonsters, nearly unstoppable warriors that are very loyal to the Heterodyne family.  And they place a huge amount of importance in hats.  Honest.  The Heterodynes have embraced the chaos of warring sparks for generations until about 20 years before GG starts.  At that time Bill and Barry Heterodyne came on the scene, and instead of rampaging they set out to save the world.  They worked to end the fighting, unite Europa and improve things for everybody, and it worked.  Then Europa is attacked by someone (or something) known as “The Other.” When the battles stopped The Other and the Heterodynes and their allies were just gone. Except for Klaus Wulfenbach, an old friend of Bill and Barry, he sees what is left of Europa and decides to fix it.  Most of the long standing spark families have been wiped out and the rest are at each other’s throats in a bid for power.

So Klaus aided by his very strong spark and intelligence gets control of a good part of Europa.  He is a tyrant but not in “bwahahah” evil kind of way, he wants to have peace and to find out everything he can about The Other and the war.  So he has one rule: No. More. Fighting.  He will destroy anyone who breaks it but any who follow it get to rule their land as they will.  Baron Wulfenbach as he is now called does have one other rule: He is to be notified if ANYTHING connected with The Other is found.  And that is where things are as the story starts.

 

Miss Agatha “Clay” is on her way to a University for Sparks when a portal opens in front of her.  In it a figure singles Agatha out, being rather smart Agatha bolts.  And then she runs into a pair of guys who decide to rob her and the take her ornate locket.  She arrives at the University shortly before the Baron makes an inspection which has her mentor, Dr. Beetle, a bit freaked out.  So to condense things here, it turns out NOTHING Agatha builds ever works, Dr. Beetle has a Hive Engine to make Slaver Wasps  that he planned to use to fight the Baron and the Baron’s son Gil has a chivalrous streak.  Things go badly for Beetle and Agatha is expelled because she has zero Spark ability.  And because the new head of the school hates her.
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When Agatha arrives home her “parents” are upset over the loss of her locket, the fact the Baron is in town AND that he met Agatha in person but recovering the locket is there top priority. Oh did I mention her parents are also super humanly strong?  They tell Agatha they are fleeing the area in the morning and she goes to bed.  It turns out thing aren’t going well for her muggers as one of them suddenly dies mysteriously and it seems he’s been holding on to the locket since they stole it. SPOILER The locket was in fact a device to stop Agatha’s Spark from breaking through END SPOILER.  The surviving mugger decides to hunt for Agatha to get a little revenge because she was responsible for his brother’s death and totally not because they stole the locket…

So now that the locket is gone Agatha starts sleep creating, turning a steam engine into a clank that is sent hunting for someone.  And of course it ends up tangling with the Baron, Gil and a squad of Jagers. They follow it back to Agatha, who is having a “discussion” with the locket thief in the workshop.  The Baron gasses them and collects the thief because he knows Agatha has no spark ability Gil however, has been paying attention and is sure Agatha is in fact is a spark.  The Baron has Agatha taken back to his HQ because she must be the thief’s girlfriend and that makes her a bargaining chip.
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Over the course of the (as of this writing) 12 volumes for Girl Genius you will find out who The Other is, start on an epic story and see Agatha start to reclaim both her ability and her birthright. There will be adventure, battles, plots, betrayals and above all a TON of humor and fun. The cast grows fast and is filled with great characters including a travelling acting troupe, the emperor of all cats, an amazing trio of Jager Monsters, a sentient castle that’s slightly crazy and Dupree.  For Dupree think Captain Jack Sparrow but crazy.
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One of the great things about this series is it’s got an honest to goodness well-constructed and strong female character.  Agatha is the one doing the rescuing most of the time rather than being the damsel in distress.  She’s not spending time trying to impress a guy, most of the time the guys are trying to impress her.  If you are a comic reader the best examples I can give would be Agatha is like Captain America or Batman, not for the fighting (though she can throw down with the best of them) but because everybody starts looking to her leadership, plans etc.  If you are looking for a good comic for girls that isn’t “girly” this really is a great choice.
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Now on to Phil Foglio’s art, I have been a fan since WAY back when he was doing “What’s New? With Phil and Dixie” in the back of Dragon Magazine.  He also did the comic version of Robert Asprin’s Myth books, the “Buck Godot: Zap Gun For Hire” series and a lot more (more on this later.)  He has a very unique art style that is cartoony but not at the same time. The men still have the super-hero build and the ladies have that comic book attractiveness but in a nice change they aren’t that super model thin look, Agatha has a physique that doesn’t make you go “Eat a sandwich!” and has more human curves. In a stylized art kind of way, if you want photo-realistic this isn’t for you but if you want good, here it is.

Phil’s art is also insanely detailed. You can spend as much time looking at all the detail he puts in each panel as you do reading.  He also hides gags in the art, if you see labels, signs or whatever, read them. Phil Foglio has become an artist I dearly want a page from, preferably with Agatha and Jagers.

 

Now as a warning if you check this out and say “I want to see more Phil Foglio” you should check into what he has done BEFORE you just buy it. His work has ranged GG and the Myth comics all the way up to Adults Only titles. I just don’t want anyone to be surprised or put off because you got something you weren’t prepared for.

 

You can get 12 very nice over-sized collected editions, a hardcover that is the first 3 trades or you can read the ENTIRE thing for free online at http://www.girlgeniusonline.com (not .net as in the header image.)  It started in 2001 and has be nominated for an insane amount of awards and won eight.  The fact that it is still going 13 years is a good indicator of it’s quality.  I got the hardcover and before I was even done I was tracking down volumes 4 – 11 to keep going, it really is that good and it’s already one of those things where I just go reread it because I need something fun.

 

Please believe me while my write up of it really sucked you have to understand it’s like trying to explain all the Star Trek TV series and Movies in 1,400 words, it’s not going to go well.  But you can try it for free so really you have no excuse not to.

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The Mighty Thor 360-362 – The Death of the Executioner

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This story is from Walt Simonson’s legendary run on Thor and since I’ve talked about Walt before I’m going to just go into the story because that art is great as always.  So for me, this is about the perfect comic book story.  Now I’m trying to compare it to say a book like Maus, but that’s because Maus is in a whole different category and if you haven’t read it you really should.  This story is so good because it does what a good super hero book should, it’s a mini-epic that hits notes that are as old as storytelling and for a good reason!

For a little background to set the stage this is a good way into Simonson’s run. Odin seems to have died stopping the destruction of Asgard, Thor has been dealing with plots from Asgard on earth and the latest one has let Hela steal the souls of mortals to boost the ranks of her army when she attacks Asgard.   And then we have Skurge the Executioner, on paper this guy should be amazing but he just ends up getting his butt kicked by Thor. He is in love with The Enchantress and does whatever she wants, but she treats him like crap and abandons him whenever a plan goes bad only to have him come crawling back.  He should be awesome because he’s a pissed, bald Thor with a giant double headed axe.  Instead he just shows up when Thor needs an Asgardian to trade punches with, you know is going to be a good fight but he’s always going to fall.

The story starts with Thor and a band of warriors returning to Asgard from Earth and in a “why did nobody else EVER do this before?” moment the warriors are bringing an arsenal of machine guns back with them. It make so much sense, of course they would look at those and think “hey those are so much better than bows!”  So Thor gathers a battle force to ride into Hel and recover the stolen mortals whether Hela likes it or not. As the force is gathering The Enchantress screws over Skurge yet again so he goes to Thor and asks to join the mission and Thor accepts him.

 There are of course things that have to be done so the warriors can find a way into Hel but when they get there it’s a paradise with many of their loved ones waiting for them including “The Enchantress” who lures Skurge away. So of course this is a trap set by Hela to lead the warriors to their deaths but Thor sees through the enchantment in time to save most of the warriors.  At this point Thor challenges Hela to a fight for the mortals, and Hela accepts.  And while Thor wins she does some major damage to him, this becomes a large plot point of Simonson’s run – a lot of damage starts to add up on Thor.

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They gather the stolen souls who have been put to work completing a long boat made from the finger nails of the dead.  A boat that is almost done and that Hela will use to sail on Asgard to destroy the gods. As Thor is leaving she presents him with Skurge and “The Enchantress,” and Skurge is none too pleased to see he has played again this time by Hela.  To pay her back in kind he uses his axe to destroy the boat at the cost of the axe, to be clear Skurge’s axe is as much a part of him as Thor’s hammer is to Thor.   This makes Hela a tiny bit unhappy and, well, she unleashes Hel on the group.

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The warriors fight a running battle up to a series of tunnels that lead back to Asgard where they will have to slow down to navigate through them.  With all of Hel on their heels Thor decides to stay behind and buy the other time to escape even though it means he will not survive.  And then Skurge sucker punches him and knocks him cold, but not as a betrayal but because everyone sees him as a joke and he wants to have the last laugh on all of them.  He asks Balder raise a glass to him when he a Thor next have a drink.  Then he takes a couple of guns and asks for a few spares and as much ammo as they think they can leave for him. And then Skurge becomes GREAT!   I’ll put the pages of Skurge’s final battle at the very end of this in case you don’t to totally spoil it. But you can go to anyone who loves Simonson’s Thor run and say “He stood alone at Gjallerbru…” and odds are they will smile and agree that arc was great.

Skurge was a joke, a schmuck, he was the jobber of Thor’s rogues.  He was big, powerful and someone who should have been Thor’s main foe. But instead of being on the level of A-listers like Magneto or Doctor Doom he was more on the level of the Trapster or Stilt-Man, guys who never had an appearance where you would think “Ooo, this is going to be good.”  This arc is proof that a good writer can turn any character into a great one, well maybe not Frog-Man or 3-D Man but other than them it’s true.  I wish Simonson would go back and do back stories with Skurge.  You can get Simonson’s Thor run in various collected editions including an insanely huge omnibus and several trades.  The also did a mini a few years ago where all this finally breaks The Enchantress,  so that should give you an idea of how this arc is regarded if they will go back to 20+ years later.    And now, the death of The Executioner.

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And that ladies and gentlemen, is how you do it.

Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 (Squared)

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It’s another book from IDW (I don’t have any connection with them, honest) this time it’s a limited series crossing Star Trek: TNG and the Matt Smith Doctor Who.  With around a dozen movies and 6 TV series I am just going to assume you know about Star Trek but I suppose it is possible you don’t know about The Doctor.  Doctor Who is a British Sci-fi show that is having it’s 50th anniversary this year, The Doctor is the last Time Lord.  If a Time Lord is “killed” he will regenerate, getting completely new body and personality while keeping all his memories.  This allows them to live for centuries and this Doctor is at least the 11th incarnation.  The Time Lords are an ancient race that (as the name implies) have mastered time and travel through it, this it done with a vehicle called a TARDIS.  A TARDIS is supposed to disguise it’s self where ever it goes but The Doctor’s got stuck as blue police box and he just won’t (or can’t) fix it.

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The series starts off with the Borg attacking the Delta IV (remember Ilia the bald woman in the first Trek movie? She was a Deltan) but there is something odd, besides the normal Borg there are silver robotic creatures that a Doctor Who fan will recognize as Cybermen.  While they look like a robot Cybermen are beings that have “upgraded” by discarding almost all of their bodies and encasing the head/brain in a Cyberbody, in the process things like morality, compassion etc. are removed.  As that is going on the TARDIS hits a little “turbulence” in the time stream and the Doctor gets a flash of the Cybermen and the Borg as they arrive in 1941 San Francisco.

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The USS Enterprise has been sent to help with a mining operation on a planet that isn’t all that keen on dealing with aliens and after your standard Trek style happenings several of the crew decide to relax in the Holodeck.  They run a program set in (bet you can see this coming) San Francisco in the year 1941, which is where The Doctor and company really are.  And in a very non-comic book turn of events they talk rather than fight, as this goes on a message about the attack on Delta IV comes in and Captain Picard asks the Doctor if he has anything to do with it.  The Doctor points out that in fact he has no knowledge of Delta IV and this is a problem because he knows EVERY planet, oddly though he does recognize Worf as a Klingon in spite of the fact that he had never even heard of the word before.

As the Enterprise drops out of warp they see a massive fleet both Borg and Cyberman ships.  The Borg appear on the view screen and one talking is a Cyberman with some Borg tech attached.  Picard and The Doctor both feel that hauling out of the area at top speed would be the best course of action.  The Doctor fills the Enterprise crew in on the details of the Cybermen and Picard uses that info to search Starfleet records for any encounters with beings like the Cybermen.  And one turns up, it’s seems the “classic” (60’s TV show) Enterprise crew were checking on a Federation archeology team that were investigating an old abandoned instillation on an alien planet. At the same time a little blue box shows up containing the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker, the one with the long scarf) as the Cybermen attack. So the really cool things here are A) for this flashback the art is by the Sharp Brothers and it is in a completely different style from the rest of the series, one much more like the old Star Trek cartoon (but a lot better) and B) the Cybermen look just like the ones from the episodes of DW that aired around that time. Little touches like that really make this book great.

So at this point we are only at the third issue of the eight and that’s where I’m stopping the talk about the story, but not for lack of content, there is action and betrayal and all the other good stuff you would expect. Now it’s time to talk about the team who worked on this. The writers are Scott and David Tipton and the art is by Gordon Purcell (pencils starting with issue three) and fully painted pages by J. K. Woodward.

The Tiptons had an incredibly hard job to do, both properties are owned by people who are well lets say “protective” and it’s hard enough to do with one property so two is insane. But they nailed it, the story is pretty much an even mix of both Trek and Who so even if you are only a big fan of one of the two you won’t feel shorted. They also got the voices of every character down, both in tone and phrasing. You will hear the actors voices as you read it and as someone who reads a LOT of spin offs of sci-fi movies and shows trust me a lot of people don’t get it dead on (and some don’t even get close) and when that happens it can rip you right out of the story and it is really annoying.

J. K. Woodward’s painted pages are amazing, to be clear he doesn’t do photo-realistic work in this book but that’s a good thing.  Instead of looking like somebody pasted word balloons on set photos JK gets the all the characters in a way that you instantly recognize them and gets the facial expressions down as well. The really nice part is the how his style lends its self to setting a mood that in a regular comic would look muddy or overly dark and shadowed.  The parts inside the Borg ships are great, JK captures the indirect lighting on dark metal from the Trek TV show and that couldn’t have been easy.

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To show the level I enjoyed this book I have bought one of Gordon Purcell’s pencil pages and one of JK’s painted pages, unfortunately I couldn’t the painted version of the penciled page but hey they are still cool.  I feel like a jerk because I don’t know what to say about Purcell’s work because unlike a pencil and ink comic it’s really hard to say this part is him and this part is JK.  Gordon is a veteran Trek artist and if he is at a Con near you go check out his stuff, his pages are very reasonable.

OK to sum it up if you are a fan of Trek or DW you should love this series and if you are a fan of both you should have already bought and read it! Because it’s from IDW you should have no problem finding the collected editions and they really are becoming the company that sets the standard for what a collected edition should be so know the trades are worth it.

Now for some notes, during the production of this series JK and his wife lost almost everything in Super Storm Sandy, and when I say almost everything thing I mean as the water poured in he had his wife, cat and some beer. For the whole saga go here: http://dafixershideout.hipcast.com/deluge/4cda8673-2e62-05ae-4e51-d6e6b326d00d.mp3 for the pod cast about it.  Or you can just go here: http://thetaylornetworkofpodcasts.com/happy-hour-podcast/ and scroll down to the one called “JKs Day At The Beach” and a few episodes above that is a podcast with Scott Tipton & Denton J. Tipton also talking about the book. And as every time I link to the Taylor network I need to add the disclaimer  “most of these are podcasts my mother should NOT listen to!”  So while I love the Taylor network they do earn the explicit rating on itunes (in this case in less than 30 seconds so headphones might be a good idea) plus JK will tell stories where you think “He does know this is going out on the internet right?” The other thing you need to know is JK’s co-host Darrell was used for The Conduit in this series and it seems to have made his grip on reality weaken. If you want to so more of JK’s art got here http://jkwoodwardart.blogspot.com he posts tons of it and regularly shows how he does it from start to finish.

I assume everybody knows Trek, but if you don’t go watch Star Trek The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds parts 1 &2 on Netflix to get all you really need to know for this series.  Because it’ far more likely you don’t know DW I’m going to toss a few to acquaint with it in case you want more of a feel for the Doctor. Out of the modern series watch Blink, Silence in the Library & Forest of the Dead (2 part ep) and Vincent and the Doctor (to quote cynical jaded son, if this ep. doesn’t get to you, you have no soul.) Those episodes will give you a good background in Doctor Who. If you are feeling adventurous and want to try some classic DW go with Genesis of the Daleks and The Pyramids of Mars those are 2 great Tom Baker stories.  Or go for The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen as they are all linked to each other in that order.  Just keep in mind those were done in 1975 on a BBC budget.

The Transformers Line from IDW

This time I’m going to toss out a few titles from an entire line of comics, IDW’s huge selection of Transformers comics. This is the “regular” line so I am not including tie-ins with the live action movies or Re-Generation One which is a continuation of the Marvel Comics Transformers comic from the 80s. IDW has crafted a massive line of Transformers books covering the origins of the civil war and creation of the Decepticons, their arrival on Earth, the end of the war, the on-going story of all the bots after the war is finally over and lots of the stuff in between. Do you have a favorite character? Well odds are they have appeared in Transformers Spotlight or are going to be in it in the near future. Want a “small elite group against an overwhelming force? Yep, they did that. The origin of Megatron? Done. Epic saga with a Star Trek style of genre switches from story to story? Oh yeah, it’s there and it’s good. I’m going to cover 3 separate series but this is nowhere near complete, there are wiki pages dedicated to the exact chronological order the stories happen in, it’s that big. I am going to go in that very order so I will start with…

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Megatron Origins

So in the far distant past Cybertron was the core world of a vast collection of world governed by a Senate, but as things tend to go the Senate has become corrupt and many of the Senators are becoming rich at the cost of large numbers of other bots. The series starts with one of these Senators going to an energon mining facility to tell the workers they are being replaced be automated machines (OK, yeah I know but think of it like humans being replaced by clones that are brainless but created to be disposable labor.) Energon is the food, fuel, money and power source for everything in the TF universe and the miners have been getting just enough to keep working while the rest lines the pockets (to TFs have pockets?) and they don’t take the news well, as in somebody tries to kill the Senator not well, and the troops move in. As the now arrested miners are being brought back to Cyberton to face trial one bot leads a hijacking of the ship, the bot is Megatron (yeah the Doctor Doom of the TF universe was a freaking miner!) and he gets help from bots that sure look like Rumble and Frenzy.

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So Megs and company go to ground and end up joining a gladiatorial type blood sport where he becomes more and more popular and powerful.  Over the course of the series you get to see the formation of the core group of the Decipticons that remain with Megs for a few million years. It also shows the formation of the Decpticons, it turns out that is not a race but group with a rather extreme ideology. I liked this series because besides the back story it shows that the Autobots were not always the noble Optimus Prime types and at the start the ‘Cons had a valid issue but Megs decided to go for absolute power.  It’s kind of like Evil Spartacus meets a modern political thriller. Now on to…

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The Last Stand of the Wreckers

The Wreckers are an elite Autobot special forces group and there job is to go in to Decpticon strongholds and planets and make the ‘Cons pay in body counts. This is not the Autobots from the 80’s cartoon; these are the TF versions of the Spartans from 300. The mini-series stars off with Overlord, one of Megatron’s top commanders going rogue to force Megs to come and throw down and prove which of them is the best. Overlord takes over a planet that has the Autobot’s highest level prison on it and forces everyone on it to engage in combat and when a bot reaches a certain level he rewards them. After no contact with the prison for an extended period the Autobots send in The Wreckers, but their primary mission is to retrieve something stored under the prison. They go in and run across the former commander of The Wreckers who was sent there because he executed (read: murdered) a group og Decepticons that were among the worst of all the ‘Cons.

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Picture this as something like the Dirty Dozen or Expendables, a group goes in to stop and overwhelming foe from getting something while having no real expectations of getting out, but with Transformers. It also ties into other books  later, which is nice as IDW does a good job of tying all the books in the TF universe together, even ones like this that are a quick limited series.

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Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye

This is one of two on-going series that are running parallel, the other one being Robots In Disguise. Both are dealing with the events after the end of the civil war. While RID deals with events on Cybertron MTMTE is a space saga, Rodimus (you should know him from the Transformers: The Movie, if you don’t go get it on DVD) has decided to go looking for the legendary Knights of Cybertron and he will take anyone who wants to go with regardless of which side they were on during the war. The goal is return the Knights is heal all the wounds left from millennia of war but the current leaders on Cybertron are less than pleased with the plan.

The way the series play out is in small arcs that swap genres while still keeping the overarching plots and ties to other TF books. The first arc is very Aliens, the ship they are traveling on has a Spark Eater on it, the Spark is kind of like the soul/life-force of a Transformer and the Spark Eater is kind of the boogieman.  Next arc deals with an Autobot medical outpost at the edge of DJD space (more on that later) that has had and odd escalating pattern of deaths and now is suffering from a lethal engineered plague and some of Rodimus’ crew get infected.

Then we get an arc away from main group, there is a small team of Decepticons that are scavengers making their way across old battlefields taking anything of use and come across a bit who isn’t dead (as  they are stripping him of useful parts) and they decide to let him join their group. And then the DJD shows up, that is the “Decepticon Justice Division”  and inform the group that they are looking for one of them and either he comes forward or the whole group of scavengers dies. The DJD’s idea of “justice” only ends in a brutal death for other ‘Cons, they have a list of bots that need to be brought to “justice.” You get on this list by being captured, surrendering, switching sides or just not dying in combat.

The DJD are not exactly normal Transformers, they are all the TF version of super villains with the evil powers, one has a chamber that can hold a bot and melt him to slag and another can tune his voice to a bots spark and then slowly get quieter until that spark goes out. These guy are feared by EVERYBODY! And not to spoil it but the scavengers get help from one of the all-time fan favorite Transformers.

Besides all that there is a plot by some on Cybertron to sabotage the mission, there is a bot that was dormant for the entire war and now is trying to catch up with everything. Some old faces from Last Stand Of The Wreckers are there, an Autobot that was “collecting” ‘Cons right before the launch and all of the issues all these bots bring along with them. But the series isn’t all dark and gritty it has a lot of fun in it as well. The interaction between all of the crew is a lot of fun and Ultra Magnus (again Transformers: The Movie!) is great, he is the odd man out. UM is the Head of Security so he isn’t happy with the Decepticons on the crew, or the Autobots, or really anybody on the crew really. He is a wound WAY too tight and tends to be the butt of a lot of the crews jokes and as an added bonus every so often you get to see through his eyes, literally, I’ll give you a hint he sees everybody as a potential trouble maker and that includes his leader.

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MTMTE is a really good well rounded book that keeps you guessing at what each new arc will bring while never (at least so far as I have read) making you feel like they have lost the plot. There are a lot of little threads and they are doled out regularly but they always seem to pick them up and weave them back in. The story feels like an epic saga with everything you could want in it.

If you are a Transformers fan IDW’s line is topnotch with something for almost everyone. They also seem to be very good about collecting the various books in trade and keeping them in print so you should have no problem getting them.  If you really want to go all in you might want to look up one the reading order lists online to get the order in which the books take place since they have been jumping around in time from series to series.

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Sorry for the huge delay in posting and the general disjointed nature of this post. I started it just before some ugly weather rolled in and that killed power for a couple of days, in the middle of writing this up. Then the internet kept going out and there was dealing with the flooded house. BUT now it’s under control and there are a few updates almost ready to roll so there should be some extra fast updates coming.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon

OK It’s time for another installment of “Cartoons My Mom Should Watch”

Let me start this off by pointing out that I HATE the silver age Batman. It’s the reason I grew up a marvel kid and then embraced independent comics as soon as I discovered comic shops but it was quite a while before I embraced DC. So what does this have to do with Batman: TB&B? It went with the visual style of the silver age Bats and got Dietrich Bader to do the voice and I just went “ok we’re getting the funny Batman and the goofy lets tie him to a giant piano and jump on the keys to try and kill him crap” so I ignored it. And really that is what a lot of the silver age was like, if you remember the Adam West Batman TV show, well it was tame compared to the comics. HOWEVER I was wrong about this cartoon!

Firstly while they had the visual style of that era almost every episode was played dead straight, they didn’t give in to camp or stupidity. The did do the old transforming car thing, the batmobile can turn into a plane and a huge battle robot and it completely changes in a that does make you go “REALLY?” and yes I realize we are talking about a universe where there is an alien whose vast super powers are because the sun is yellow but still. Really the vehicles are the only part where the show comes up short, Catwoman’s car has I huge flexible cat’s tail and Green Arrow drives this stunningly stupid T shaped arrow like car.

They told good comic stories that were true to the character of Batman and to the insane amount of guest stars that appeared in the series. There are heartfelt one two of which include Red Tornado, an android hero who wants to understand humanity, in one RT is trying to create a son and it is very much in the mode of Data and Lal on Star Trek: The Next Generation but more in the super hero vein. The other RT ep. is great because it gives insight to the night the Waynes are killed and why they went to see Zorro and show another even more personal reason for Bruce becoming The Batman.  That ep. is amazing for how they handle the origin story in a show that really was aimed at kids and aired on Cartoon Network.

There were running  jokes throughout the series, Batman and Green Arrow have a friendly rivalry and whenever they work together they keep a running score of who snagged the most bad guys. Bat Mite, one of the most annoying things ever shows up but is fun for a change. They make him the hardcore fan who complains about the direction and style of this show. And all through it Batman stays Batman, he’s not the straight man if a joke happens, he’s like the breakwater the joke smashes into with no effect at all. There is an episode with the Music Meister (and yes that is the exact kind of thing from the silver age that I loathe!) and his power is his voice can make people perform musical numbers but they do it great! Neil Patrick Harris is MM and kills it, as all the heroes and villains sing and dance while fighting is never with that annoying wink to the viewer. The closest you get is Bats looking at Black Canary and asking “Was all the singing REALLY necessary?” but it’s not with a grin it’s him slightly annoyed at them wasting energy on something that isn’t punching bad guys.

There are many sci-fi episodes where they go into space, ones with time travel and a wonderful two part ep. where Bats goes into a parallel world where are the heroes are evil and they are led by his counterpart “Owlman” who had led the takeover of his world. And they toss in much more street level stories where he helps and befriends beginner heroes who need a mentor. Really no matter the genre of story it played with respect for the characters. The only one I had issues with were when Plastic Man and his buddy Woozy Winks show up but that is probably on me because I have always hated that pair and this time was no different. There are also a couple of lame baddies that nothing could make good like Babyface and Mrs. Manface, yeah it’s exactly what you think.

The format of the show is a short open about two and a half minutes followed by the opening credits. Most of the time this opening has nothing to do with the main story of the episode but it can tie in to a story later in the series.  Often it seems to be a showcase to tease you with moments of “you never thought you would see this character in a cartoon did you?’

The hook of The Brave and The bold, in both comic and cartoon form, is a super hero team up every time and the team up can be completely insane but it doesn’t matter because it more a case of “wouldn’t it be awesome to see Batman team up with XXXXXX?” And man do they toss in any and everybody from the DCU: The Blue Beetles, All of the Green Lantern Corps, Jason Blood/The Demon, Mister Miracle and Big Barda, Starro, The Challengers of the Unknown, and even Kamandi! Trust me this is just the tip of the character iceberg.

Dietrich Bader does a great job as Batman and he really does nail The Batman. They continued the tradition of bringing in tons of guest stars to do the voices and it really seems like everybody had fun doing it. It also has a great final episode and it’s treated like the finale for a regular TV show.

They also do the best Aquaman ever, he’s a boisterous, larger than life dude. He would be annoying if he wasn’t so great, if you have ever read Bob Layton’s take on Hercules over at Marvel that is a lot like this version of Aquaman and it’s worth watching just for him.

And best of all the series is up on Netflix instant streaming.  HOWEVER in a massive jerk move it seems Netflix is only allowed to have about the first half of the series streaming, and in a an even bigger jerk move the last episode they are allowed to stream it part 1 of a 2 parter.

If you want a sample of good episodes to check out try these:

S1EP5 “Invasion of the Secret Santas!”

S1EP12&13 “Deep Cover for Batman!” and  “Game Over for Owlman!”

You could also toss in  S1 Ep25 “Mayhem of the Music Meister!” because it’s just fun to see a crazy story played so straight.

And just for fun here is the very end of the series.

Witch Doctor

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Witch Doctor is a title from Image Comics that is coming out in limited series and one-shots. It is from writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner and published under Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint at Image.  So far there has been a #0 issue,  the Witch Doctor 4 issue series, Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation a one-shot and the recent Witch Doctor: Mal Practice six issue series.

The World of WD is a simple and cool premise, the universe is a “living body” and all the vampires, zombies and horrible monsters are parasites, bacteria and viruses infecting it. Showing that they know their classic horror the books creators have many of creatures ride into the universe as “lice” on the bodies of The Great Old Ones from the H. P. Lovecraft stories. The Old Ones entered a sleep like state after arriving in the WD universe.  There are also Fairies and other creatures and items of legend as well as other “people” who are not in the WD universe proper but can be contacted and bargained with.

To combat all the magic related ills there is a group called Mages Without Borders and the title character is one of them. His name is Dr. Vincent Morrow and he’s a jerk, Morrow is a combination of the Doctor from Doctor Who and Dr. Gregory House from the show House M.D. add to that mix the fact he knows that he is the one chosen to stop the end of the world. And the people who run MWB really can’t control him because of that.

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Morrow has a new assistant named Eric Gast who is a paramedic and ex-military of some type. Gast is new the whole world of magic but is a fast learner (when Morrow can be bothered to explain anything) and keeps his head on when it all goes crazy around him. The last member of the core cast is Penny Dreadful, a collage age girl infected with a magic parasite that incredibly powerful and dangerous. She can regenerate, secretes a venom that knocks people out, has super strength, can track creatures etc. Morrow has no idea what the creature in Penny is but they have a deal she helps him and he keeps her fed (vampires) and doesn’t attack the creature.

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Morrow was a medical doctor at one time but something seems to have happened that ended that and now he’s a mage that applies a medical view to dealing with monsters. He also has several item of power to help him including the Holy Grail and what he calls his scalpel, which is in fact Excalibur. That is the reason MWB can’t really control him, anytime they start to cause him problems he jabs the sword into something and challenges them to pull it out, and at one point he even tells Gast slashing only, if you stab with it the thing gets stuck and he has to go pull it out again.

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The #0 issue and the first series set up the universe, explains the rules and introduces the characters. The issues are really a series of interlocking one issue stories that seem to be setting up a huge over-arching epic. The Resuscitation introduces a love interest for Morrow, Catrina Macabrey a pathologist/necromancer who is possibly a bigger jerk than Morrow. It also deals with what happened to the gods of legend in general and Osiris in particular and sets up the Mal Practice series.

Mal Practice deals with Morrow being infected by a parasite that only goes after magic users. This is part of a plot to get Morrow to give up something of real power. While dealing with that he is also hunting for two very different monsters that have taken to hunting together even though normally they never would. It also shows off the more mundane (if that can really be applied here) part of WD’s magic world. You get to learn a LOT more about Penny and Gast. On top of that it has what I’m certain is the most unique way of foiling the bad guy in the history of comics. It also introduces The Surgeons who are really creepy

 Brandon Seifert is crafting a well thought out universe with rules and a realistic approach to magic monsters that is refreshing, he never pulls the abra kadabra crap to get out of things, you are shown the limits and Seifert never goes outside of them. Lukas Ketner’s art is perfect for this book, he nails the combination of gothic horror, modern world and Cthulhu monsters. Part of the reason this isn’t a monthly book is Ketner’s art is too involved to complete a book every month and really it’s so nice it really doesn’t matter if it takes longer.

This book is a nice combination of horror, action and dark humor. So while Morrow is a jerk, he’s still likable and deep down a good guy. The cast is interesting and promises to keep you wondering about exactly who or what they are for a long while. Everything that has been put out to date will be collected in two trades.

As a side note if you want to hear Brandon Seifert talk in depth about Witch Doctor go here: http://thetaylornetworkofpodcasts.com/2012/11/25/comic-book-road-show-brandon-seifert/ but a word of warning! While I listen to many of the podcasts on the Taylornetwork the vast majority would not be Podcasts My Mom Should Listen To. As I recall this one was fine but it is possible I forgot about something so headphones might be a good idea. If you don’t mind some language and such you can find some great interviews and reviews there.

Fantastic Four 570 – 588

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This is the start of Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Fantastic Four.  So first let me set the stage to where Hickman came in:

Reed was tricked in to helping build Nu-Earth, an artificial planet across the galaxy. It was supposed to be a refuge for humanity but it was really going to a haven for only the very rich and very powerful.

Reed had created a “Bridge” to let him study other worlds/dimensions/universes in his quest to solve the world’s problems. There were “issues” with it and Sue convinces him to break the Bridge down and leave it alone.

A group of super-powered people in the future needed to evacuate everyone from the Earth. They did this by capturing Galactus and draining his energy to jump back through time, and killing him in the process. They blamed the people of the present time for the problems of the future and planned on taking over. The FF ended up giving them Nu-Earth.

And lastly a creature named Annihilus launched an invasion of marvel universe from the Negative Zone. It was repelled but Annihilus retreated to the Zone and started rebuilding his swarm.

So that’s where the FF was as Hickman came in. Hickman started doing small arcs but they all were part of an over-arching story. Reed has built a room the only he can access (or so he thinks) were he can work on the 100 ideas that would chance the world. And then he adds number 101 – Solve Everything. To do this he reactivates the Bridge and contacts The Council Reeds, a group made up of Reeds from countless dimensions. They show the 616 (regular Marvel Universe) Reed all they can accomplish together. But they also show the evil Reed could also do in the name of what is “right.” They also give Reed insight into himself on a personal level, all the other Reeds have abandoned or driven their family and friends away to concentrate on their “great works.” And one of them managed to piss off the Celestials of his world and they decide to invade the pocket dimension of the Council to attack all the other universes. Thanks to the 616 Reed the attack is stopped but at great cost to the other Reeds. This causes 616 Reed to again shut down the Bridge.

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Next arc starts with Franklin Richards’ birthday and the appearance of a large ultra-powerful blond man who holds off the FF while going for their kids. He says something to Franklin and “knocks him out” then goes to Valeria to give her a warning about a war that is coming. As he goes to leave she wishes him a happy birthday, having figured out that he is her brother from the future. Besides the warning to Val what he did was re-awaken young Franklin’s powers. Franklin is probably the most powerful mutant in the Marvel 616 to the level that while he tries to hide the return of his powers Galactus detects them right off and when meeting with Reed he leaves ASAP to avoid any kind of confrontation with the child.

I’m not going to spoil any more of this arc besides saying adult Val and Frank are trying to fix something in the past because only they can see the problem and the solution.

Reed has been funding a think tank to help come up with solutions for the world’s problems for years, but he points out that they have become too small in their thinking. So he sets up the Future Foundation a think tank filled with brilliant children because they haven’t learned to say “that can’t be done” yet. Several of the kids have been found over the course of these issues. And one of the first things they do I come up with a way for The Thing to become human for about one week out of each year.

So now we get to the really good part. The thing uses the short term cure and spends a week as a human, as the forces of Annihilus that are on Earth launch an assault on the Fantastic Four’s HQ to rip open the portal to the Negative Zone.  They hit when the only people there are all the kids, the Thing in his human form and the Human Torch. They stop the attack but the portal is damaged and the legions on the other side will break through before the Avengers and the FF can get there, so the Torch goes through to seal the portal from the other side and hold off the invaders. As the portal gets totally locked out and the forces of Annihilus hit the, the Thing’s cure wears off. So spoiler here (but it was on the news and in the papers) the Human Torch gets killed.

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The last issue in this group is The Month of Mourning; it’s broken into 2 parts the first is all dialog free, high lights are when Thor and the Hulk drag the Thing out to the desert and keep him there until they throw down. They go toe to toe until the Thing finally breaks down over the loss of Torch. Reed opens the shield to confront Annihilus with the Ultimate Nullifier. The UN is a weapon so powerful it drove off Galactus. Annihilus responds be holding up the 4 insignia from the Torches uniform. The last silent moment is with Val and kids from the Future Foundation and what they are planning and give a little insight into just how dangerous she could turn out to be.

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The second part of the issue is Spider-Man coming to talk with Franklin about his uncle being killed. It is one of the best Spidey stories around. They talk about the loss, and what it’s like. Franklin says “I think I could have saved my Uncle” and Spider-Man responds with “I KNOW I could have saved mine” and tells him the story of Uncle Ben. Hickman captures Spider-Man perfectly.

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Ok so I have left out SO much, how they gather all the kids, all the stuff with Nu-Earth,  a rather unhappy Galactus, and everything with the warning from the future about the war. You also get to see how amazing, fearless and to be honest stupid and immature Valeria is. She figures out so much and starts preparing what is coming by recruiting Doctor Doom, by teleporting into his throne room.

 I know this is probably coming across as really dis-jointed but to go into depth would make  this 3-4 times as long and this is just a chunk of the overall Hickman Fantastic Four epic story, from here it goes to FF and then 12 months later back to the Fantastic Four. Hickman gets the Four so well, he takes them back to the huge universe spanning adventurers they should be. The FF don’t fight crime and random bad guys, they explore the multiverse and save galaxies. Hickman’s run while made up of small story arcs is in fact one massive saga, things that seemed like a little throw away will pay off a dozen issues later. There was some complaining as the issues came out that it was too slow but now that the run is complete that isn’t a problem.

If you want a grand epic story that never forgets that it’s about a family, even if they do have super powers, go get Hickman’s Fantastic Four and FF runs. It has been collected in hardcovers and trade paperbacks and will probably be coming out in at least one massive omnibus.

Star Slammers

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Star Slammers was originally the sixth Graphic Novel from Marvel Comics and released back in 1983. It was created (and I assume owned since he has done it at 2 other companies) by the great Walt Simonson. I’m just going to get this out of the way now, back in the Kamandi post I said Jack Kirby was the Odin of comics creators, well Walt Simonson sits at his right hand in the Asgard of comics creators.

So Star Slammers is set in futuristic society that is really the Roman Empire during its decline. The Slammers themselves are the best and most sought after fighters in the galaxy, picture are combination of Boba Fett, Jedi Knights and the Spartans from both 300 and Halo and you are getting close to what they are. When they are hired the deal is the Slammers get EVERY weapon and ship used by the force they were hired to fight. And nobody knows where the Slammers come from, you get a message off and if they take your job they show up out of nowhere and leave as quickly as possible. Oh yeah, and the WIN.

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The book starts off with a siege on a planet that a band of slammers shows up to break that siege and they do, but they also ruffle the feathers of the people who hired them. This little spat causes the locals to tip off the Orions, the Roman guys I mentioned earlier, they have been looking for the Slammers for some time and the capture the team on its way home. Then you see a flashback, it turns out that the Orions have been exiling “undesirables” on a secret world for generations and using them as the “circus” to amuse the populous of the Orion Empire. They do this by taking members of the ruling class to hunt the Exiles and televise it.  One powerful Senator stumbles across a family on one of these hunts but instead of being simple kills one of the Exiles pulls out a sling known as Power Slammer and takes out most of the hunters and their vehicle before being killed. In the process he cripples the Senator who returns to Orion and then gets authorization to destroy the planet.

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When the Senator recounts the tale of what happened another member recognizes the weapon used by the Exiles as one his ancestor used before being exiled. The man who becomes known as Grandfather leaves Orion and travels to the Exiles world to warn them and train them to stop the Orions. Grandfather starts training the Slammers to create a psychic link between them all, to fight with a single mind with thousands of bodies.  This will take years but as Grandfather points out it will also take the Orions years to assemble a fleet large enough to destroy a planet.

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So as usual I’ve left out a ton including at least the last 1/3 of the book and glossed over a lot of the rest. This book is a classic sci-fi story, from the declining empire to the honorable warriors to the man to goes against his people to do what is right. The battles are wonderfully done and Simonson’s art perfect for the book. He evokes power of the weapons and on the flipside the age and sadness of Grandfather.

The only “bad” thing is it feels like it should be an epic saga that plays out over years and dozens of issues rather than 60 some pages in a graphic novel.  Think of it like a two hour series premier for a sci-fi show. It introduces the heroes and villains, gives their back story, shows why the heroes are awesome and gives you a huge battle to wrap it all up.

Walt Simonson is one of my all-time favorite comics creators, besides Star Slammers he had a LEGENDARY run on Thor (where he created one of my favorite characters and wrote one of the best story arcs ever) and did runs on X-Force and Fantastic Four. He was the artist for the Marvel/DC crossover X-Men and Teen Titans which is (arguably) the best of the Marvel and DC crossover books and his art in it is stunning. Simonson is one of those people who I will buy any book I see with their name on it. I also regularly lament the fact I will probably never be able to afford a Simonson page.

So in summary if you want a Star Wars/300 story with great art go get Start Slammers, you can get it used on Amazon for like $6! And I feel like I did a horrible of explaining how cool this book is, but it really is. Honest.

Super Dinosaur

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So if you ever were a boy (or a really cool girl) odds are you liked dinosaurs. Because they are cool, so can they get cooler? How about being able to talk? Yep, cooler. How about a talking T-rex with high tech battle armor fighting bad guys? That is pretty much as cool as it gets. And that is what the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman has created with artist Jason Howard. It’s an all ages comic from Image Comics that is pure fun.

The basic set up is this: Doctor Dynamo and his partner Max Maximus discover the Earth is hollow and on the inside they find dinosaurs and a new element named Dynore. The element is an insanely powerful energy source that both men want to use to change the world. Max also sneaks a T-rex egg back to the surface and alters the creature inside it, making it smaller, smarter and able to talk as a prototype for an army to use in ruling the world. Dynamo’s son Derek names it Super Dinosaur  and the two of them become the best of friends. Soon Dynamo and Maximus have a falling out where Max tries to kill Dynamo, he is stopped but at a cost. He did something to Dynamo’s brain, he’s still a super scientist but can’t concentrate long enough work anything out.

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It turns out Max, like any evil mastermind worth his salt, had already set up many secret bases and had been creating other dinos and one of them, Tricerachops – a female humanoid dinosaur ninja,  rescues Max from government custody. This leads to Dynamo being charged with protecting “Inner Earth” from Max and working to stop all of Max’s plans. This is done by arming SD’s exo-suit so he and Derek can travel the world to fight the other modified dinos.

As the series starts this has been going on for a while and Derek has kept his father’s condition a secret and is covering for him so the government doesn’t find out. Derek is as smart as his father and is running triple duty of fighting Max, finishing his father’s work and trying to keep SD’s gear in working order but it’s not going that great and the gear is getting damaged faster than one person can repair it. To solve this problem the government sends a husband and wife team to handle the upkeep (and then some!) they come with their two daughters one of which loves the whole thing and one that hates it.

And it’s not just Maximus they have to deal with, there is Squidious (yeah I’m sure you get the idea) with his underwater army and the best HQ ever, it’s built of the back of a giant sea monster that dwarfs whales. There is also The Exile who has recruited Tricerachops with promises of an Earth where Dino-people can rule instead of humans. The three factions are working against each other with the occasional team-up followed of course by a “sudden but inevitable betrayal.”   Government forces show up from time to time with high tech battle gear and another kid, because that’s just how they roll in this universe.

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The Kingstons (the people sent to keep SD’s gear working) are using Derek’s designs as well as their own to make tons of new suits for SD and even some gear that any cartoon watcher in the 1980s will love. There are also missing things that nobody seems to notice until they are pointed out by Maximus. The book also has a brewing revolution and clones that seem to be going just a bit off.

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To try and give a better idea of what the book is it is Johnny Quest crossed with The Herculoids with a dash of Iron Man and the Fantastic Four tossed and just a bit of Teen Titans. The book is just pure fun.  The kids aren’t annoying and even the one bratty girl turns around quickly.  Every issue is like being a kid and getting up early on Saturday morning for cartoons. I really can’t express how much fun it is, honestly with all the goings on it feels like it could end up being an epic like Jeff Smith’s Bone, I say could because right now it’s only in the upper teens for issue count where Bone ran for years. And really Disney, Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon need to turn this into a weekly cartoon because it would be a classic. And I really want toys of, well, pretty much everything.

Please don’t be put off by the fact that it’s from Robert Kirkman, I LOVE The Walking Dead but this is a far from it as you can get. It’s like the best of the Disney animated movies and it you have kids you can even use the “I’m getting it for them” excuse.  And Howard’s art suits it perfectly; everything looks great from the people to the tech stuff.

 

So I realized I didn’t really make this clear in the first post and now I’m putting it here to make it stand out a little. A lot of people do not like most of the choices they have for comics presentation of females especially in regards to comics they might want to give to younger girls. Super Dinosaur, for me, does a great job of making the females actually participate in the book on equal footing as the guys. Sarah Kingston is every bit as involved as her husband in the creation and modification of SD’s armor.  Erin and Erica Kingston jump in to the whole adventuring thing with both feet (in Erica’s case it does take a couple of issues) and they aren’t the “damsels in distress.”  It isn’t really until about the second trade where the two girls join in but it does seem like they are staying there.

Captain America 286-289

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This Set of Captain America came from a huge run in the 80’s that I loved. It was written by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by the great Mike Zeck. It revolves around Deathlok, a cyborg from a future where all the heroes disappeared without a trace, almost overnight. This was caused by Roxxon/Brand a group of companies involved in energy production and pretty much everything else. Well except for the fact that they are totally evil and bent on world domination and like to create super-villains. They cropped up a lot in Marvel Comics starting in the mid 70’s and still show up today, they even show up in the Marvel movies in the background, for now. In the future they created Deathlok as a super soldier, after a while he broke free but ended up shunted back in time where Roxxon/Brand got ahold of him and he cropped up a few time over the course of a decade or so.

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The series starts off with a clone of Luthor Manning, Deathlok’s human body being sent through time to 1983 in search of Deathlok. And of course he’s being held at a “shut down” Brand facility, and while breaking in he’s spotted by Cap who is on the way to meet his girlfriend’s parents. So as usual I’m skipping over a bunch of stuff but Cap joins up with the clone and they find Deathlok. It turns out the clone’s job was to make contact with Deathlok and restore Manning’s memories and when he finds out Brand has kept him in storage for years Deathlok turns a bit vindictive. Then he heads off to the place where the clone popped in to make the return trip to the far future of 1993.

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Of course Cap being, well Cap, goes with because people need his help, and because he’s awesome like that. In 1993 the hook up with Godwulf and his band of freedom fighters and they go up against the man responsible Deathlok and a good deal of why the future is so bad, Hellinger. Godwulf also explains what happened to the heroes of the past. The day Cap and Deathlok went to the future was the eve of Roxxon/Brand launching an attack on all the super teams. The Nth command launched a program called “Purge” where squads of commandos use Nth Projectors to send all the super groups in to alien, hostile, and fatal dimensions, when that was done they did the same to all the “lone wolf” heroes and then took over and ruined the world. Godwulf knows this because he led one of the teams.

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So of course in the end Cap makes it back and that’s not a spoiler since 30 years later he’s still fighting (although I am now realizing I bought these issues on from the news stand as they came out  and feel rather old.) One of the things I love about this arc is a recurring theme about the power of Captain America, not the man but the symbol. People rally to the man and the idea of what he fought for, this shows up the classic and 1990’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” where they fight to free humanity from alien control. The Guardians ship is “The Captain America” and in the 90’s series they go looking for a relic of amazing power to help in the fight. The relic is Cap’s Shield. The same kind of idea crops up in the late part of Marvel’s 2099 line. Cap has pretty much always been “the good guy” and they keep true to that so even guys like the Punisher respect him.  And by being this symbol Cap helps DeathLok become a symbol to the people of the future.

And Mike Zeck is amazing, I have always been a fan of his art. He makes me think of Jack Kirby, both draw larger than life heroes and do great tech, the main difference is where Jack loved straight lines and corners (a fist Jack drew looked like a foundation block and it was COOL) Mike goes with curves and rounded corners. I really wish he would do more comics work, well that and that I could afford some of his pages. As for J.M. DeMatteis, if his name is on it, it’s worth reading.

You can get these issues pretty cheaply OR you can get a copy of Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok Volume 1, this collects every appearance of Deathlok up through these issues. This collection is great and is full of classic, under-rated comic sci-fi. There is one little problem with it, they didn’t include Captain America 289 because ‘Lok isn’t in it but it is the end to this arc where Cap returns to 1983 and manages to stop the Nth command as they strike. So while you can argue for leaving it out it’s important because Cap stops (or postpones or creates a parallel timeline, whatever works for you) Deathlok’s future from happening.  Deathlok has still been a fixture in the Marvel Universe and even is a regular in Wolverine and the X-men. They had also given him an ongoing series in the 1990s and several limited series’ over the years.