Sunday, July 31, 2016


Well, it's an even-numbered year, which apparently means it's time for a new BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES soundtrack album from La La Land Records.* (Though if I had my druthers, we'd be getting one of these sets every year rather than every other!)

After 2012's volume 2 and 2014's volume 3, this past week brings us the BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES Original Television Soundtrack, volume 4. Like volume 2, this album had pre-release availability at Comic-Con, but as I've noted here in recent weeks, I was unable to attend this year due to the birth of my son. So I pre-ordered the album straightaway when it went up on La La Land's site Tuesday at noon, and it arrived (autographed by composers Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Carlos Rodriguez) in the mail Friday.

Naturally, given the hectic nature of my life at the moment, I haven't had time to give this set a real in-depth listen, but I have given it one cursory run-through while the baby was sleeping (I think he liked the music!) and I wanted to jump on a post while the iron was hot -- so I found a bit of time to cobble this piece together during a subsequent naptime. Speaking of which -- note also that La La Land released a 4-disc soundtrack album for JUSTICE LEAGUE this past week, and I'll try to write something about that as things settle down within the next month or two. But for now, I really couldn't wait to cover BATMAN.

Friday, July 29, 2016


Story: Tommy Yune | Script: Jason Waltrip and John Waltrip
Art: Omar Dogan @UDON Studios | Art Assist: Jason & John Waltrip (#4-5)
Letterer: Travis Lanham | Color Assists: Ali Tavaholy (#4) & Miguel Troncoso (#5)
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editor: Ben Abernathy

Back when it originally aired, ROBOTECH proved so popular that Harmony Gold began production of a 65-episode sequel series, ROBOTECH II: THE SENTINELS. This would have followed Admirals Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes as they embarked on an exploratory mission to Tirol, the Robotech Masters' homeworld, to pursue peace. A few episodes of THE SENTINELS were fully animated, then the series lost its main advertiser and the production was canceled. But THE SENTINELS lived on through licensed media -- a series of five novels told the story according to producer Carl Macek's original plans, and an ongoing comic book series adapted the story as well -- however the comic eventually met the same fate as the TV show, ceasing publication mid-storyline in 1996.

Ten years later, Harmony Gold released ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES, a direct-to-DVD sequel movie to the original ROBOTECH animation. As a lead-in to the film, Wildstorm published PRELUDE THE SHADOW CHRONICLES, a 5-issue miniseries scripted by the original SENTINELS comic writer-artists, Jason and John Waltrip, from a story by Tommy Yune.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Penciling & Scripting: John Byrne | Inking: Al Gordon
Coloring: Glynis Wein | Lettering: Diana Albers
Editing: Michael Carlin | Editing-in-Chiefing: Jim Shooter

The Plot: While the Fantastic Four attend to their personal lives on Earth, the Thing is still trapped on the Beyonder’s Battleworld. There, he meets the Frankenstein monster and both are captured by a masked man named Kemp, in the employ of Doctor Julius Akerman, the Monster Master. The Thing and the monster are placed in Akerman’s wagon with Gregor Lupus, a werewolf, but the Thing gets free by changing to Ben Grimm.

A fight breaks out between Ben and Kemp, which is joined by the werewolf at Akerman’s command. Ben becomes the Thing once more to fight the werewolf, while the monster exits the wagon and kills Akerman. Free of his spell, the monster and the werewolf depart, while Ben continues his trek across Battleworld.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: This tale is continued from THE THING #19. That issue is reprinted in the FANTASTIC FOUR BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS volume 2, but I have elected to skip it as its story is sufficiently recapped in this issue.

And the recap is simply: Ben Grimm, traveling across Battleworld in search of a woman named Tari, has run into a number of creatures he recalls from the monster movies he watched as a child. He knows these are figments of his imagination, as Battleworld has brought several of his thoughts to life over the time he’s spent there, but they’re real enough to cause him trouble.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


It's a double dose of Marvel's THUNDERBOLTS this month, with both THUNDERBOLTS CLASSIC Volume 2 and HAWKEYE AND THE THUNDERBOLTS Volume 2! As I noted a few months back, once Marvel issues their rerelease of THUNDERBOLTS CLASSIC volume 3 in the near future, I'll have what I consider to be the definitive THUNDERBOLTS run -- Busiek, Nicieza and Bagley through issue 50 -- collected in five nifty trades on my bookcase. I'm very happy about this development.

Another Marvel book which pleases me is INFINITY WATCH Volume 2. Thanks to this volume, the entirety of the nineties' WARLOCK AND THE INFINITY WATCH series has been reprinted, including the full run by Jim Starlin. Some may recall that I never "unboxed" Volume 1, and that's true; the reason is that all of its contents, INFINITY WATCH 1 - 22, have been reprinted over the past decade or so in the INFINITY GAUNTLET AFTERMATH, INFINITY WAR, INFINITY WAR AFTERMATH, INFINITY CRUSADE vol. 1, and INFINITY CRUSADE vol. 2 collections, while issues 23 - 25 can be found in the THOR: BLOOD AND THUNDER trade paperback. And since most all those issues are parts of large crossovers, I'm perfectly content to own them as components of those larger collections rather than on their own, keeping those books alongside this collection (containing INFINITY WATCH 26 - 42) to complete the set. (Note that the two INFINITY CRUSADE books are currently out of print and ridiculously expensive these days, but the rest are all available at reasonable prices.)

Finally, from DC, we have SUPERMAN: PANIC IN THE SKY. DC has been doing a decent job of collecting various events from the post-CRISIS, post John Byrne era in the Superman titles, and this is another in that trend. It's a story I've heard about for years (its name was used for a classic JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED episode), but I've never read it. For now it goes on the shelf with my other post-CRISIS Superman books, ready to read when the time is right.

Of course, all the above pales in comparison with the other package I received this month; a BABY BOY! (Sorry, no Amazon link for that one.) He was born just a week or so back and currently all my time and energy is devoted to him. As noted last week, I have posts scheduled to keep going up like clockwork as usual, so you shouldn't notice I'm preoccupied, but there may be delays in responding to comments as I adjust to this new addition to the family.

Friday, July 22, 2016


Story: Tommy Yune | Script: Jay Faerber
Art: Takeshi Miyazawa & Omar Dogan w/Alan Tam (#5)
Letterers: Phil Balsman (#1-3) & Rob Leigh (#4-5)
Colorists: Studio XD (#1-2), Long Vo (#3-5) w/Charles Park & Saka (#4-5)
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editors: Ben Abernathy & Alex Sinclair
Special Thanks to: Erik Ko & Tom Bateman

Wildstorm's ROBOTECH line continued in 2004 with INVASION, though in retrospect one wonders if the various mini-series were perhaps selling less than originally anticipated. FROM THE STARS debuted in 2002 with a #0 issue followed by a six-issue series, every one of which (except #0) featuring two covers, standard and variant. 2003 saw the release of LOVE AND WAR, six issues also with variants for every one. Now we reach 2004 and INVASION, which is a five-issue mini-series featuring a variant for only the first installment. By the time we get to 2005 and Wildstorm's final ROBOTECH mini-series, PRELUDE TO THE SHADOW CHRONICLES, we'll encounter a five-parter with no variants.

So, over the course of four years Wildstorm would produce a whopping four ROBOTECH mini-series, with the number of variant covers and the number of issues per series decreasing over time. And I should note that it's not the number of mini-series I find odd; Harmony Gold was carefully rebooting their "expanded universe" at the time and all the various tie-ins were masterminded by Tommy Yune, who was also producing the then-upcoming ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES direct-to-video animation. Yune was certainly busy, and one series a year was probably all he and the company were willing to handle. It's more the decline in series length and variant covers that stands out to me.

At any rate -- ROBOTECH INVASION is set in the "New Generation"/Invid invasion era of the original series, though properly speaking, its placement in the timeline puts it between the "Robotech Masters" saga and "New Generation". It follows Lt. Lance Belmont of Mars Base 10, a fighter pilot in an attempt by the Robotech Expeditionary Force's first attempt to retake Earth from the alien Invid.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Words & Pictures: John Byrne | Coloring: Glynis Wein
Editing: Michael Carlin | Other: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Fantastic Four approach the Warlord’s citadel with their new cowboy ally, Colby, and his right-hand man. They defeat another tripod robot, but are then confronted by a group of women riding flying mechanical steeds. The women describe the history of their world and confirm what Reed fears: his father, Nathaniel, is the Warlord.

Reed moves on alone to the citadel to seek audience with his father, but the Warlord’s holographic visage denies him and sets his defenses against him. The Fantastic Four, Colby, and the futuristic Valkyries battle the Warlord’s robots until Wyatt sneaks away and spots the Warlord himself prepping an anti-matter cannon. Wyatt disables the device, killing the Warlord.

Later, Wyatt comes around and learns that Reed’s father had been duped by his wife. She was the Warlord, using Nathaniel’s scientific expertise for her own greedy ends, conquering the surrounding world. With his adopted home in ruin, Nathaniel chooses to remain there and work to repair it once more.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


For the first time since 2006 and only the second time since 1999, I won't be attending the San Diego Comic-Con this year! No, I wasn't unable to secure a badge; in fact my friends were very lucky with the online lottery this year and we could've grabbed tickets for all of us with no hassle for a nice change of pace. But I'm voluntarily skipping this one due to the birth of my son. If all goes according to plan, by the time this post goes up, he's on his way into the world, if not here already. So no reminiscences this year about SDCCs past, and no recaps a week after I return. I'll be way too busy!

But, that said, I planned for this. Just last night I finished John Byrne's FANTASTIC FOUR and wrote the last post in that series, and I'm a few months ahead of schedule on Friday posts as well, while my monthly X-Men Collected Edition reviews are written and ready to go up through the end of the year -- so Blogger will continue publishing 'em even as I'm far too busy to keep writing 'em (though I may not have much time to respond to comments the next week or two).

Next year I hope to be back at Comic-Con with the bundle of joy along for the ride (not at the con, but on the trip at least), but for 2016, I'm sitting it out.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Story: Tommy Yune | Art: Omar Dogan with Simon Yeung
Letterers: Phil Balsman (#1-2), Rob Leigh (#3), Pat Brosseau (#4) & Jared Fletcher (#5)
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editors: Ben Abernathy & Alex Sinclair

ROBOTECH: INVASION, which we'll discuss next time, features a human fleet returning to Earth from colonized Mars in the year 2039. As a thematic tie-in to that tale, INVASION's backup serial chronicles the origin of Earth's first Martian base, appropriately titled "Mars Base One".

We begin our story in 2006 with some familiar faces seen previously in FROM THE STARS and LOVE AND WAR; namely Admiral Hayes and Doctor Lang. Lang's assistant, Karl Riber, begins dating Hayes's daughter, Lisa. Meanwhile, Hayes's wife is killed in a bombing by the Anti-Unification league, but this doesn't deter him from his duty to keep Earth safe from alien invasion. While Lisa leaves for the Robotech academy on Macross Island, Karl heads to Mars, where Hayes has commissioned a base devoted to reverse-engineering Robotechnology found aboard the SDF-1.

But the Zentraedi, searching the galaxy for SDF-1, arrive at Mars Base a few years later and attack. Nearly all crew are killed, save Karl and his commanding officer, Colonel Rodriguez. Rodriguez gives his life to fire off a blast from the base's cannon, destroying the Zentraedi ship above, while Karl sends a message to Admiral Hayes informing him of the attack and bidding farewell to Lisa, as he will surely die long before help could arrive from Earth. As the story ends, Hayes realizes the countdown to alien invasion has just been vastly accelerated.

Monday, July 11, 2016


Story & Art: John Byrne | Lettering: Ken Bruzenak | Coloring: Glynis Wein
Editing: Michael Carlin | Editing-in-Chiefing: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Fantastic Four and Wyatt Wingfoot use the time machine constructed by Reed’s rather to transport themselves to the same parallel dimension where Reed believes the elder Richards was stranded a decade earlier. They find themselves in an wasteland with a small town nearby. Sue explores the town, which appears to be out of the Old West save for the advanced weaponry utilized by its denizens. When the town’s leader, Colby, spots Sue with his futuristic six-shooter, she returns to the rest of the FF, but is pursued by Colby’s men.

Sue’s teammates take out the hi-tech cowboys, but their victory is short-lived as a gigantic tri-legged robot arrives and attacks. The FF defeat the robot as well and Colby shows up to make peace with them, explaining that the robot serves a warlord who arrived ten years earlier and conquered this world.

Elsewhere, an armored woman observes the Fantastic Four’s arrival and changes into the raiment of a demure wife. She then goes to visit her husband — Nathaniel Richards.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


X-CUTIONER'S SONG: Hardcover, 2011. Collects 1992-93's UNCANNY X-MEN #294-297, X-FACTOR #84-86, X-MEN #14-16, X-FORCE #16-18 and STRYFE'S STRIKE FILE.

A SKINNING OF SOULS: Paperback, 2013. Collects 1993's X-MEN #17 - 24, X-MEN: SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE MANSION, and material from MARVEL SWIMSUIT SPECIAL #2.

"X-Cutioner's Song", 1992's 12-part X-Men family crossover, is collected in full in a very attractive hardcover volume which opens, in a nice touch, with writer Fabian Nicieza's introduction to the original 1994 trade paperback edition. From there we get a brief recap page explaining what the X-teams have been up to in recent months, then it's on to the crossover in UNCANNY X-MEN 294, X-FACTOR 84, X-MEN 14, and X-FORCE 16. The story repeats this pattern two more times for a total of twelve chapters ending with X-FORCE 18 -- but the book isn't quite finished there. We also get a "quiet issue" epilogue from UNCANNY 297, and then the volume's collected issues come to an end with the STRYFE'S STRIKE FILE one-shot.

Bonus material consists of sixteen pages, beginning with second printing covers -- including one for STRYFE'S STRIKE FILE. A book of wall-to-wall text and pinups received a second printing. Who says the nineties weren't the merry Marvel age of mirthful excess? We next get both sides of twelve trading cards, which were originally packaged with the individual issues in polybags, reprinted at original size, followed by a MARVEL AGE cover and article about the crossover, a scan of a chapter still inside its polybag, trade paperback covers of previous collections, and recolored cover art for this volume.

The book's dustjacket and graphic design are crafted to make it a companion to the X-TINCTION AGENDA hardcover released earlier in 2011 (but in blue rather than X-TINCTION's red). The book's title is even redesigned from the original crossover logo, utilizing an old-fashioned jagged "X" in order to match the original "X-Tinction Agenda" logo instead. And while this is a nice idea, it really doesn't make much sense. These crossovers have nothing in common; no shared villain, no shared theme. Even a lot of the characters are different!

Friday, July 8, 2016


Words: Ken Siu-Chong with Tommy Yune | Pencils: Jo Chen
Inks: Alan Tamm | Colors: UDON | Letters: Jenna Garcia (#1), Doctor Layman (#2-3),
Jared Fletcher (#4), Nick J. Napolitano (#5-6) | Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Edits: Ben Abernathy | Special Thanks to: Erik Ko & Tom Bateman

Within the world of ROBOTECH, as the SDF-1 journeyed through the solar system on a two-year trek from Pluto back to Earth, the citizens of Macross City, trapped aboard ship, did their best to adapt and continue with their normal lives. One such diversion was the production of a motion picture, LITTLE WHITE DRAGON, aboard ship. This backup serial (originally printed alongside LOVE AND WAR), reveals the plot of LITTLE WHITE DRAGON for the first time, while interspersing movie scenes with "real world" moments aboard ship.

The film follows a young Shao Long martial artist named Kai-Fun, whose master and fellow monks are all killed when a meteorite falls from the sky in the year 999. Some time later, Kai-Fun returns to the his home island to investigate recent fishing boat raids and travels back to the temple with a guide named Wai-Lin. There they find a Zentraedi battlepod and warrior, which Kai-Fun duels.

In the real world, Wai-Lin is portrayed by Lynn Minmei, Rick Hunter's girlfriend, while the part of Kai-Fun is performed by her cousin, Lynn Kyle. The very brief out-of-movie scenes are both original and adaptations of moments from ROBOTECH, and depict Rick's and Minmei's relationship slowly deteriorating. At the story's conclusion, the Zentraedi watch a pirated broadcast of the film and take it as a historical document, which leads them to believe humans may be stronger than they have previously let on.

Monday, July 4, 2016


Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Letterers: Janice Chiang & Michael Higgins | Colorist: Glynis Wein
Brand-New Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Sue, Johnny, She-Hulk, Wyatt, Alicia, and Franklin arrive in Reed’s lab to wish him a happy birthday. Later, Reed confides in Sue that he is slowly losing portions of his long-term memory, and he believes this condition to be an effect of the theft of his brainwaves in the Negative Zone months earlier. He tells Sue the first vivid memory he has is of the time he defeated an alien invader named Gormuu before the creation of the Fantastic Four.

Reed decides that his best shot of regaining his lost memories is with a trip to his family estate, unused since his father’s mysterious disappearance years earlier. The next day, the entire group, including Wyatt, Alicia, and Franklin, heads for Central City in California. There they meet the Richards' butler, Peacock, and his wife, who inform Reed that they’ve been seeing ghosts around the estate periodically for years.

Reed leads the FF into his father’s lab, where they locate a time machine, the cause of the spectral, time-displaced imagery. Reed deduces that his father attempted to jump to the future (the FF’s present), but instead moved along a parallel timeline to another universe. He determines to find that universe and rescue his father.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


Hardcover, 2016. Collects 1973-76's SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION #15 & 16, MASTER OF KUNG FU #17 - 37, GIANT SIZE MASTER OF KUNG FU #1 - 4, GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN #2, and material from IRON MAN ANNUAL #4.

I've never read Marvel's MASTER OF KUNG FU, but I've heard very good things about it. And it's rare, though not unheard of, that I pick up a high-end collection for a series I've never so much as touched. To the best of my recollection, the only other times I've done so were with DC's NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS series and Marvel's STAR WARS: THE ORIGINAL MARVEL YEARS OMNIBUS series. Of those, the former was critically and commercially acclaimed, while the latter -- well, it's some of the earliest Expanded Universe STAR WARS and I'd wanted to read it for years.

MASTER OF KUNG FU definitely falls into the "critically acclaimed" category. In certain scholarly comic book circles, it's ranked up there with the best of Marvel's late seventies/early eighties output; regarded at least as highly as the Claremont/Byrne X-MEN, Miller DAREDEVIL, and Simonson THOR. Still, given my lack of familiarity with the material, I probably would've waited for the inevitable Epic Collection trade paperbacks instead, except -- according to collection editor Cory Sedlmeier, these books are "...a special opportunity you don't want to miss out on." Working on the well-known knowledge that Marvel lost the rights to Fu Manchu, a prominent character in the series, decades back, and using that info to read between the lines, one might infer that perhaps Marvel has acquired a limited one-time reprint license, and after these Omnibus volumes are published, they may go out of print forever.

So, working from that assumption and trusting the numerous voices which have declared this one of the greatest Marvel runs of all time, I've bought volume 1 sight unseen and pre-ordered volume 2 as well, with full intentions to go for volume 3 too, when it's solicited.

Friday, July 1, 2016


Script: Jay Faerber with Tommy Yune | Art: Long Vo, Charles Park & Saka of UDON
Letterers: Jenna Garcia (#1), John Layman (#2-3), Rob Leigh (#4) & Nick Napolitano (#5-6)
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editor: Ben Abernathy
Special Thanks to: Erik Ko & Tom Bateman

Wildstorm's second ROBOTECH miniseries begins in the year 2031, at the dawn of the Third Robotech War, with a framing sequence as Dana Sterling, formerly of Earth's Army of the Southern Cross, tells her friend Bowie Grant the story of how her parents met. We then jump back to 2009 and follow young Max Sterling and his best friend, Ben Dixon, as they're caught up in the SDF-1's jump to outer space and battle with the alien Zentraedi.

Along the way we see several familiar faces from the "Macross Saga", including Rick Hunter, Roy Fokker, Lisa Hayes, Claudia, Grant, and Captain Gloval. Roy dies battling the Zentraedi and Ben soon follows, and eventually a Zentraedi warrior named Mirya Parina infiltrates the SDF-1 as a spy, meets Max, falls in love with him, and renounces her people to fight alongside the humans.

In 2031 once more, Dana and Bowie board a ship under the command of Colonel Jonathan Wolfe and leave Earth to join Admiral Rick Hunter and his Robotech Expeditionary Force in deep space.

If you're a ROBOTECH fan, most of this may sound familiar to you, and not without cause. For some inexplicable reason, Tommy Yune and Jay Faerber (now credited as co-writers rather than "plot" and "script" as on the previous mini-series) have chosen to retell several scenes from the TV show, usually adapting dialogue verbatim, while interspersing those scenes with bits of their own devising.