Monday, August 29, 2016


Writer/Penciler: John Byrne | Embellisher: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Glynis Oliver | Letterer: John Workman
Edits: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: In outer space, the Baxter Building explodes and one of Doctor Doom’s recording devices monitors the apparently deceased Fantastic Four, Wyatt Wingfoot, and Franklin. But as soon as the device departs, the FF reveal they are alive, playing possum inside one of the Invisible Girl’s force fields. Under directions from Mister Fantastic, the group returns to Earth inside the field, landing at Castle Doom in Latveria.

Inside the castle, the FF defeat several of Doom’s robot guardians and make their way to his sanctum. There they find Doom and several of his robotic doubles. The FF easily defeat the doubles and unmask Doom, revealing him as the late monarch’s ward, Kristoff. The FF prepare to return to the United States with Kristoff in tow, hoping to deprogram him.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Reed explains to She-Hulk that Doctor Doom adopted Kristoff following the murder of his mother in FANTASTIC FOUR #247.

On the following page, Reed deduces that Kristoff’s scheme failed because he didn’t realize Sue had gained the power to generate force fields in FF #6, which happened at a point after the boy shut down the memory transferal process last issue.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


It's a light one this time, which is fine with me, and both of the month's two offerings come from Marvel. (And, apropos of nothing, the books' contents just miss overlapping each other, in terms of original publication dates, by about six months.)

First up is the new printing of THUNDERBOLTS CLASSIC volume 3*, which, as I've noted a couple times in the past few months, when combined with volume 1*, volume 2, and HAWKEYE AND THE THUNDERBOLTS volume 1 and volume 2, completes the run of what I consider the definitive THUNDERBOLTS -- issues 1 - 50 by Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza, and Mark Bagley. I seriously have no idea why the T-Bolts just received this level of fast-track love (five trades -- three reissues and two new -- released in the lightning-quick span of four months), but I'm really glad to see it happen.

And our second item is X-MEN: THE TRIAL OF GAMBIT, a nice trade collecting a chunk of issues of both X-MEN and UNCANNY X-MEN which were originally published between the "Onslaught" and "Operation: Zero Tolerance" events. My goal of getting all the Scott Lobdell/Fabian Nicieza X-MEN on my bookcase grows ever closer to completion, and I'm quite happy about it. This book will be slotted for an in-depth spotlight as part of my monthly X-Men collected editions review project (all of which can be found archived about halfway down this page), somewhere around December or January, so for now I've nothing more to say on the topic.

I expect another very light month next time, leading me to note that Marvel and DC seem to have scaled back publishing the sorts of classic material I'm interested in. For now I don't mind; a new baby inevitably leads to a diminished budget for these kinds of things -- but I hope this downward trend levels out at some point! Two books a month or so is just about right in my opinion, but I always feel a little bummed out those months when I only receive one or even none.

* Note that the above links go to the original 2011 and 2012 printings of THUNDERBOLTS CLASSIC volumes 1 and 3. Amazon doesn't seem to have the new printings on their site yet -- but in any case, the contents should be identical.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Story: Simon Furman | Pencils: Don Figueroa | Inks: Elaine To
Colors: Rob Ruffalo | Letters: Dreamer Design | Pre-Press: Kell-O-Graphics
President/Art Director: Pat Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee

The Plot: Megatron holds court with his followers while the Autobots prepare to evacuate Cybertron under orders from Optimus Prime. Later, Megatron has the Constructicons begin work in turning Cybertron into a "cosmic dreadnought". He orders one of the planet's turbines activated, which destroys Orbital Torus State Kaon.

Optimus Prime realizes the destructive blast originated from within the planet and heads underground in search of Megatron, but he is ambushed by the Insecticons instead. Meanwhile, with Prime away, Shockwave leads an all-out Decepticon assault on Iacon.

Continuity Notes: Megatron's past as a gladiator is teased, though he insinuates that all Decepticons fought in underground arenas at one time.

Prime realizes Megatron's scheme when he recalls one of his would-be assassins last issue bragging that "...the seeds of destruction have already been sown under your very feet" -- hence the gigantic engines beneath Cybertron's surface.

G1 References: Laserbeak is drawn in his Cybertronian character model from the G1 pilot episode, "More Than Meets the Eye". Indeed, though I didn't note it last time, all the characters depicted with Cybertronian modes in the original animation have those same modes here (Wheeljack, Bumblebee, Starscream, etc.) -- though Figueroa has designed new robot forms for them to match these alternate vehicle modes.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Script & Pencils: John Byrne | Inks: Jerry Ordway
Colors: Glynis Oliver | Letters: John Workman
Edits: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chiefs: Jim Shooter

The Plot: In Latveria, Doctor Doom’s robots bring young Kristoff to a special wing of Castle Doom, where they reveal that Doom is dead and Kristoff will now rule in his place. The robots hook Kristoff into a machine and begin implanting Doom’s life’s memories into his brain. But Kristoff orders the procedure stopped when it reaches a point just after Doom’s second encounter with the Fantastic Four.

Soon after, as the FF go about their normal business one evening, the Baxter Building tears away from its foundation and takes off for outer space. Doctor Doom, wearing modified armor, contacts the FF via a video screen and taunts them, then blows up the upper portion of the building once it's left Earth’s atmosphere.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Doctor Doom’s past is recapped via the memory implantation, including some bits newly created by Byrne: His mother long dead, Victor Von Doom’s father was targeted for execution as well, having failed to save the life of a local baron’s wife. Victor and his father were taken in by a gypsy clan, and the elder Doom soon died. Victor began to study the black arts using his mother’s paraphernalia, alienating Valeria, the woman who loved him.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Well, as I did last year and the year before around this time, I'd like to acknowledge another anniversary for the blog. To be exact, my first post went up on August 16th of 2013, so I'm almost a week late, but since I'm too anal to deviate from my normal "announcements on Sundays" routine, here we are.

As usual, I'm trying to stay ahead of schedule, even with the new Bundle of Joy in the house. To that end, a few months back I scaled down my Monday-Wednesday postings to Mondays only. As a result, I was able to finish reading and writing posts about the full John Byrne FANTASTIC FOUR run just before the baby was born, and those are now queued up to be published through the remainder of 2016. Fridays aren't booked quite so far in advance, but I do have them going into early November at the moment via the recently announced Dreamwave TRANSFORMERS part 2 series.

Since I've done this each of the past two years, let's see what gets the most hits around here these days: According to the "All Time" counter, the X-Men Collected Editions chart remains my most visited page, with the INFINITY GAUNTLET OMNIBUS review still clocking in at second place with about one-fourth as many hits. Third place remains the same as last summer too, in the form of the SPIDER-MAN by Roger Stern review series I did a couple years back. So really, nothing has changed at all in the past year in the terms of my most frequently visited pages.

What Google search terms are bringing people here? Besides variations on the title of the blog, it seems searching for reviews of the afore-mentioned INFINITY GAUNTLET OMNIBUS remains a popular venue of entry, and folks looking for reviews of Moon Knight comics and X-Men collected editions tie for third.

So those are the stats for my three-year anniversary. As noted above, Byrne FF and Dreamwave TRANSFORMERS will take us up to the end of the year, and the usual Unboxings and X-Men collected edition reviews will continue monthly on Sundays, with a few more various Sunday posts on other topics upcoming as well. Come 2017, I'll be back with my annual "Year in Review/State of the Blog", so see you then!

Friday, August 19, 2016


Story: Simon Furman | Pencils: Don Figueroa | Inks: Elaine To & Don Figueroa
Colors: Rob Ruffalo | Letters: Dreamer Design | Pre-Press: Kell-O-Graphics
President/Art Director: Pat Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee

The Plot: Millions of years ago on Cybertron, Sentinel Prime is killed in battle with Megatron. Meanwhile, Autobot forces under the command of Grimlock fail to defend Orbital Torus State Altihex from a Decepticon attack. As the Autobot council chooses a new Prime, Grimlock meets with Prowl and Jazz and tells them that the Autobots need a more militaristic leader to combat Megatron.

Later, the Matrix is bestowed upon the new Prime, Optimus. Decepticon assassins attempt to stop the ceremony, but Optimus Prime defeats them. Elsewhere, Megatron prepares to battle his new rival.

Continuity Notes: This issue establishes in Dreamwave's continuity that Sentinel Prime was Optimus Prime's predecessor as Autobot commander and that Optimus Prime was a simple archivist before the Autobot Oracle chose him as Sentinel's successor.

Bluestreak notes that before joining the Autobot cause, he was a Cybertronian merchant. Later, Prowl states that the city of Praxus was his home before the Decepticons destroyed it.

Monday, August 15, 2016


Story and Pencils: John Byrne | Embellishing: Jerry Ordway
Coloring: Glynis Oliver | Lettering: John Workman
Editing: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: On Earth, the Thing returns from the Beyonder’s Battleworld and goes to visit Alicia. When he finds Johnny there early in the morning, Ben lashes out at his teammate. Alicia calms them down, but further conversation is interrupted when another planet appears, moving toward the Earth. While Johnny takes Alicia to the Baxter Building, Ben runs across a woman who shapeshifts into an alien Dire Wraith, but dies before she can steal Ben’s body when the other planet explodes. In the aftermath, Ben learns that the planet was the Dire Wraith homeworld, and was destroyed by Rom the Spaceknight and his allies.

Meanwhile, Doctor Strange arrives in Belle Porte, Connecticut to find Reed, Sue, and Franklin Richards apparently dead — but his mystic senses reveal that their souls have actually left their bodies. Strange follows the errant souls to the realm of Mephisto, where the demon lord has imprisoned Franklin while he tortures Reed and Sue. Strange releases Franklin, whose mutant power—unencumbered by the psychic blocks placed on it in his physical form — apparently destroys Mephisto in a fit of fury. With the villain defeated, Strange and the Richardses return to Belle Porte.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: A lengthy footnote recaps Ben’s time on Battleworld, and he also thinks to himself that he became the Thing permanently once more while trapped there.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Hardcover, 2012. Collects 1993-94's UNCANNY X-MEN #298 - 305 & 315, UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #17, X-FACTOR #87 - 92, X-MEN UNLIMITED #1 & 2, X-FORCE #25, X-MEN #25, WOLVERINE #75, and EXCALIBUR #71.

This book is probably my favorite of all the X-MEN hardcovers I own, in terms of volume of contents. The two X-MEN BY CLAREMONT & LEE books came out a bit earlier than FATAL ATTRACTIONS, and they certainly covered a wide swath of X-continuity, between UNCANNY issues, X-FACTOR issues, annuals, and the like. And of course there were prior collections of the various X-events which preceded "Fatal Attractions", but those generally only collected the pertinent crossover issues (with the exceptions of FALL OF THE MUTANTS, which contained a great deal of lead-in material and X-TINCTION AGENDA, which included the original Genosha arc to lead the book off).

But FATAL ATTRACTIONS gives us our first real glimpse of the Marvel collected editions department's diabolical plan to eventually get every issue of X-MEN and UNCANNY X-MEN, as well as ancillary X-material such as annuals and X-MEN UNLIMITED issues, out there in some way or another -- not to mention squeezing in installments of other spin-off series where pertinent.

FATAL ATTRACTIONS begins with UNCANNY #298 and 299, written by Scott Lobdell and featuring the return of Magneto's Acolytes and the machinations of the Gamesmaster and the Upstarts. We then move into a solid run of X-FACTOR #87 (the famous "team psychotherapy" issue) through 91, written by the outgoing Peter David and fill-in scripter Lobdell, which provide some tangential groundwork for the upcoming "Fatal Attractions" crossover.

Friday, August 12, 2016


Writer: John Ney Rieber | Art by: Jae Lee | Colors: June Chung
Letters: Benjamin Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee | Publisher: Pat Lee

TRANSFORMERS/G.I. JOE was easily the most experimental Transformers comic Dreamwave published in their brief time with the property's license. Illustrated by Jae Lee in something as far from the Dreamwave house style as possible and written as an alternate history "What If" by John Ney Rieber, the story is set in the era of World War II but features Europe trembling under the reign of the Cobra Empire, assisted by a group of Decepticons found in the story's opening pages by the sinister Major Bludd.

To combat Cobra, the United States government forms a special unit called G.I. Joe, consisting of the best the armed forces have to offer, and sends them in as an advance commando force to prepare the Cobra Terrordrome for invasion by a U.S. fleet. While battling their enemies in and around the Terrordrome, the Joes inadvertently activate the slumbering Autobots, who eventually join forces with our heroes and defeat Cobra.

But when Destro releases his own Transformer, Bruticus, to destroy everyone on the battlefield, Optimus Prime orders the Joes' Snake-Eyes to destroy the Autobot Matrix, which immediately deactivates every Transformer in the area. The story ends with the Joes mourning their new friends as they mop up the remaining Cobra forces.

I've never been a big fan of alternate history stories, whether set in real life or fictional universes. As an example of the former, I point to INGLORIOUS BASTERDS -- I really enjoyed that movie up to the point where (SPOILER) the title characters murdered Hitler. Not that I didn't enjoy seeing Hitler get what was coming to him; it was pretty fun to see -- but at that point I realized the movie was set in some fantasy world and I lost all interest.

Monday, August 8, 2016


Script & Pencils: John Byrne | Colors: Glynis Wein | Letters: John Workman
Editing: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
And introducing the inking wizardry of: Jerry Ordway!!!

The Plot: While the Human Torch reflects on his love life and She-Hulk works out under the watch of Wyatt Wingfoot, Reed and Sue Richards, in their secret identities of Reed and Sue Benjamin, host a housewarming party in Belle Porte, Connecticut. But the party is watched from across the street by nosey neighbor Alma Chalmers and an exorcist named Elspeth Cromwell.

After the party ends, Cromwell attacks the Richardses, who she and Alma believe to be demons in human form. She summons the undead Knights of Hades to battle Reed and Sue, causing Franklin to awaken and come downstairs in fear. When he arrives, Cromwell realizes he was injured falling out of bed, and with the spillage of innocent blood, the demons are joined by their master, Mephisto.

In Manhattan, in Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange senses the breach between dimensions and departs for Belle Porte to investigate.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


I've done something TRANSFORMERS related for the past three fall seasons, and this year will be no different, other than that we're starting a month or so early due to the shorter-than-normal summer ROBOTECH review series. Last year I wrote about Dreamwave Productions' main TRANSFORMERS series from 2002 - 2004, in the form of their first two mini-series and their aborted ongoing run. This year we'll look at the ancillary Dreamwave Transformers material in order of publication. We'll lead off this Friday with the six-part TRANSFORMERS/G.I. JOE mini-series in one go, and then it'll be issue-by-issue examinations of:
Note that those final two series were cut short by Dreamwave's collapse, but I intend to cover them anyway for the sake of completeness.

Note as well that this should be my final go-round with Dreamwave's Transformers work. I read their ARMADA/ENERGON series back when it was released, but I found it boring and incomprehensible and I really have no desire to ever read it again. So if I return to the robots in disguise again next fall, it'll be via a different publisher and another continuity.

This material should fill my Fridays up through the end of the year, so buckle up and get ready to roll out!

Friday, August 5, 2016


Written by: Bill Spangler (#2 - 5) with Tommy Yune
Art and Letters by: Digital Art Chefs Team* | Pencils and Digital Inks by: Elmer Damaso
Production Manager: James L. Palabay | Supervisor for Colors and Letters: Melvin Calingo
Colors by: Lariz Santos, Armand Roy Canlas, Sam Gelua, and Melvin Calingo
Letters by: Armand Roy Canlas and Melvin Calingo | Covers by: Tommy Yune

I've never really watched VOLTRON. As a kid, much like ROBOTECH, it didn't appeal to me. As a teenager, I checked it out on Toonami (the same programming block which soon introduced me to ROBOTECH and made me a fan). I still couldn't get into it. What was the deal with Pidge's bizarre voice? Why was Michael Bell playing an old lady? These questions burned through my brain to the point that I didn't want to give the show a chance, and I've never looked back.

But in 2013-14, Dynamite published a ROBOTECH/VOLTRON crossover miniseries and since ROBOTECH had been entirely absent from comics since PRELUDE TO THE SHADOW CHRONICLES eight years earlier, I decided to check it out even though the interdimensional crossover seemed an odd choice for the more-or-less grounded universe of ROBOTECH.

The story is... all right. Tommy Yune sure does love to revisit those early "Macross" days, though. I'm not necessarily complaining; I like that era as well -- but between FROM THE STARS, LOVE AND WAR, and now ROBOTECH/VOLTRON, he's returned to pre-ROBOTECH Macross Island in about half of his mini-series since 2003.

In this case, our tale begins on the planet Arrus in Voltron's universe, where the Voltron lion team is lost while investigating a comet passing close to their world. Then, in ROBOTECH's dimension, that same comet comes near Earth on the day the Zentraedi attack the SDF-1 launch ceremony on Macross Island. The Zentraedi flagship is lost to the comet and SDF-1 conducts a hyperspace fold to avoid being hit as well.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Writer & Penciler: John Byrne | Guest Inker: Al Gordon
Colorist: Glynis Wein | Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Michael Carlin | Truthsayer: Jim Shooter
A special tip of the hat to Kevin Nowlan for the inspiration for this story.

The Plot: As She-Hulk sunbathes atop the Baxter Building, a helicopter buzzes her and the men aboard grab a few snapshots of her topless. After putting her top back on, she leaps to the chopper and punches a hole in its underside, but is shaken loose. Recognizing the call letters WXIT on the helicpter’s side, She-Hulk calls the station and gets the pilot’s name and location.

Confronting the pilot at an airfield with Wyatt by her side, She-Hulk learns that he was paid $1,000 by the publisher of a nudie magazine called The Naked Truth in order to help get the photos. She-Hulk changes to Jennifer Walters and, along with Wyatt, confronts the magazine’s publisher, T.J. Vance, at his sleazy office. Vance brags that the photos have already been sent off to appear in the next edition of The Naked Truth and that the magazine is expected to sell thirty times more copies than ever before. He shows off a safe containing advance payments he’s received from news agents, and Jen changes to She-Hulk, crumples the safe into an impenetrable ball, and leaves.

Three weeks later, the magazine hits the stands. The Human Torch arrives and tells She-Hulk that the printer color-corrected the “green woman” in Vance’s photospread, and She-Hulk is relieved to realize no one will be able to tell the photos are of her.