Friday, September 30, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Andrew Wildman | Inks: Erik Sander
Colors: Espen Grundetjern, Rob Ruffalo & Ramil Sunga | Letters: Benjamin Lee
President: Pat Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee

The Plot: Optimus Prime and Megatron are lost in a space bridge accident. Meanwhile, a being called the Fallen appears in the wake of their disappearance. Eventually, the Transformers splinter into several factions smaller than simple Autobots and Decepticons. In the ruins of Iacon, Hound reports to Prowl that the Decepticons' new mobile base is nearly complete. Elsewhere, the Fallen recruits Bludgeon, Mindewipe, and Bugly as his disciples.

Later, Grimlock's Lightning Strike Coalition steals a shipment of Energon from Starscream's Predacons. Beneath Cybertron, the Fallen tells his followers to go after Grimlock, then leads them into a hidden chamber.

Continuity Notes: An undetermined amount of time has passed since the first WAR WITHIN mini-series, and I'm only saying that here because there are literally no other continuity notes to be found in this issue. Simon Furman is clearly looking straight ahead at this point.

G1 References: The space bridge, an interplanetary teleportation system, is an invention of the original TRANSFORMERS cartoon series, though it later played a role in the Marvel comics as well (where it was artistically literalized as an actual glowing suspension bridge for some reason).

Grimlock nearly calls Swoop "Divebomb" in one scene, a reference to a tale from the U.K. comics in which the character had that name "stolen" from him by a Decepticon.

Monday, September 26, 2016


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

The Plot: The Invisible Girl finds herself trapped in an alien world with slightly "off" versions of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Sue fails to use her force field to protect Johnny from death, and then is paralyzed by inaction when the Thing dies as well. Reed berates her to the point that he fails to spot his own demise, then he, too, perishes.

These visions are the work of Psycho-Man, who has Reed, Sue, and Johnny prisoner at miniature size in his lab. He taunts the team as he manipulates Sue’s emotions. Meanwhile, She-Hulk is prisoner of Psycho-Man’s subjects in a dungeon, where she is told she will soon be sent to the Mines of Nuvidia.

Reed escapes from his cell and defeats Psycho-Man, who he has deduced is actually still at his normal size within a gigantic exo-skeleton. He then frees the others, but Sue begs the question: where is She-Hulk??

Sunday, September 25, 2016


As noted last month, my purchasing has dwindled quite a bit recently -- and while I don't necessarily mind, it makes for a mild annoyance when I don't have an Unboxing ready for a given month. I already skipped May of this year, and September was also going to turn up empty, which would've been a record around these parts.

So, even though I didn't get any newly released items from Marvel, DC, or the rest, I decided I would "unbox" a few things I already had. See, while I post all my monthly pre-ordered arrivals here, I do acquire other books throughout the year via gift cards, sales, etc. So today we'll take a look at a couple of items I've actually had for several months, thanks to some Christmastime Amazon gift cards: SPIDER-MAN: THE ULTIMATE NEWSPAPER COMICS COLLECTION volumes 1 and 2.

Released by IDW's imprint The Library of American Comics, these volumes collect all of the original syndicated Spidey strips by Stan Lee and John Romita, as published between 1977 and 1981. Marvel previously released this material themselves some years back in both hardcover and paperback format, but as I understand it, both versions had issues so I opted to skip them. But IDW has impressed me with their Library of American Comics offerings (more on that at some point in the future), so I decided to finally take the plunge.

There's a recently released third volume out there as well, collecting stripes beyond '81 by Lee with artistic contributions from Larry Leiber and Fred Kida. I plan to pick that up when the opportunity presents itself.

The Spider-Man strip has, in recent years (and for some time as my teenage recollections seem to recall) been... not great. But I really look forward to reading these "new to me" Lee/Romita Spidey stories, and you'd better believe that when I get to them -- most likely sooner rather than later -- I'll talk about them right here!

Available on Amazon: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3

Friday, September 23, 2016


Story: Simon Furman | Pencils: Don Figueroa | Inks: Elaine To
Colors: Rob Ruffalo | Color Assists: David Cheung & Elliot Kravchik
Letters: Dreamer Design | Graphic Design: Kevin Lee & Matt Moylan
Pre-Press: Kell-O-Graphics | President/Art Director: Pat Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee

The Plot: As Iacon crumbles thanks to the mechaforming process, Optimus Prime hunts Megatron beneath Cybertron's surface. Meanwhile, Kup, Ironhide, and Wheeljack battle Starscream's forces in the mechaforming control room. Shockwave orders a Decepticon retreat from Iacon and the Autobots follow suit.

Optimus defeats Megatron while Grimlock arrives to aid Kup and company. Scrapper attempts to deactivate the mechaforming, but Starscream holds him back. Optimus Prime appears and rallies the Autobots. Together they force Starscream into retreat and destroy the Cybertronian engine conducting the mechaforming. However the damage is done and Iacon is destroyed.

Reunited with the rest of the Autobots, Optimus Prime rescinds his order to evacuate the planet, telling the Autobots they must stay and fight as an underground guerilla force. Meanwhile, Megatron finds Soundwave beneath the surface and together they head back topside. Later, Optimus tells Grimlock that he was given the combined knowledge of all previous Primes the day he was anointed, but he has chosen to ignore that information and make his own way as the new Autobot commander.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Script-Pencils: John Byrne | Inker: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Glynis Oliver | Lettering: John Workman
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Young Franklin Richards has a bizarre dream in which he’s chased by monsters across an alien landscape and meets an injured space horse, culminating with his crossing paths with the child super-team, Power Pack. Franklin then awakens and goes to tell his parents about the dream.

In the basement of Avengers’ Mansion, Reed has reconstructed his reducto-craft for a trip to the Microverse, though he’s uncertain the FF should leave Earth since the Beyonder is lurking about. But Sue’s vehement desire for revenge on Psycho-Man convinces Reed, and after leaving Franklin with Jarvis, the FF depart.

The reducto-craft is hit by an unknown force as it crosses the barrier to the Microverse. When the FF arrive, Reed and Johnny note that the realm seems different somehow. Johnny takes off to scout, but is captured, with the rest of the team joining him in short order. The Fantastic Four realize that they are prisoners of Psycho-Man, who is unexpectedly several times larger than them.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


So last week after posting my little BATMAN 232/"The Demon's Quest" mash-up picture, I decided I wanted to write a bit more about BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Since my son's birth a couple months back coincided with La La Land Records' release of their BATMAN: TAS Vol. 4 soundtrack album, I found my interest in the series piqued, as is periodically the case, and as a result I spent more than a few late nights rocking the baby to sleep while streaming random episodes on my iPad. I thought it would be fun to write about them -- nothing in-depth, mind you; you can't spit on the internet without hitting a full-blown TAS retrospective series -- but at the very least, I wanted to compose one post boiling down exactly what it is I like about BATMAN, and what makes it so enduring for me personally.

I still vividly remember the very first BATMAN: TAS episode I saw. Somehow the series' premiere had slipped past my radar, so I missed the first few installments. Thus my initial exposure to BATMAN was the episode "It's Never Too Late" which, according to the internet, aired September 10th, 1992 as the seventh episode broadcast. It might be a good thing this was the first show I saw, because it immediately demonstrated to me what the animated Batman was about. This was not the Adam West version or the Hanna Barbera or Filmation iterations I had known on TV up to that point.

"It's Never Too Late" is a character study of an aging gangster at the end of his career, struggling to defend his crumbling empire from the younger competition. It tackles drug abuse -- something typically taboo in kids' animation back then except for the occasional "very special episode" -- but only in passing as part of the larger story. There are no colorful, costumed villains. The antagonist of the piece is Rupert Thorne, a character I knew at the time from a couple issues in my dog-eared GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD trade paperback, and he and his goons use conventional firearms rather than the laser blasters I'd become accustomed to in my normal weekday afternoon fare.

"It's Never Too Late" may not be the greatest of the animated Batman episodes, but it's a solid entry and holds a special place for me personally as the one that won me over that Thursday afternoon twenty-four years ago.

Friday, September 16, 2016


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

The Plot: Grimlock and his team descend beneath Cybetron's surface. Meanwhile, Shockwave's forces breach Iacon's defenses. Upon finding the Decepticons working on Cybertron's engines, Grimlock leaves to find Prime on his own while Kup, Ironhide, and Wheeljack remain to stop Starscream. Elsewhere, Optimus Prime and Megatron find themselves as phantom observers of the future, where the Autobot/Decepticon war has moved to another planet.

Starscream explains his plot to reroute power from Cybetron's engines, shedding the planet's skin and remaking the world in his own image. Meanwhile, the Constructicons stumble across Kup and company. Prime and Megatron continue their fight in the Matrix, but are transported again to a different place and time. Grimlock continues his search for Optimus while Kup and the others fight the Constructicons. Prime and Megatron return to present day Cybertron, where Grimlock somehow pulls Prime away from Megatron to a different location. He then tells Prime the only way to defeat Megatron is to kill him.

Then, as Shockwave overwhelms the remaining Autobots in Iacon, Starscream activates the "mechaforming" process.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Story and Pencils: John Byrne | Inks: Jerry Ordway
Colors: Glynis Oliver | Letterer: John Workman
Edits: Mike Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Hate Monger’s influence over New York grows, and he sends Malice out to destroy the Fantastic Four. Meanwhile, the Human Torch is reunited with Alicia, who explains that Sue went missing after she encounted someone who looked and sounded like Reed.

At Avengers Mansion, Mister Fantastic heads for the roof to utilize a device he believes will counteract Hate Monger’s power, but Malice shows up and attacks. Johnny returns to help, and Daredevil soon arrives as well, tipping Reed off to the fact that Malice is using invisible force fields as her weapon of choice. Reed deduces that Malice is actually the Invisible Girl.

In order to overcome Hate Monger’s programming, Reed convinces Sue to hate him for real. Somehow this hatred overcomes the artificial hatred instilled by Hate Monger, and Sue becomes herself once more.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


A while back I noted that I like to draw, and that lately I've been doing it on my iPad. Well, since the advent of the Apple Pencil, which my wife was kind enough to get me as an early Father's Day present back in May, I've really been having a lot of fun, and I've even been posting some stuff to DeviantArt (linked off to the left-hand side there).

But, as I also noted before, every so often I draw something that I'm really proud of and with which I'm pretty satisfied. It's rare, but it happens, and this is such an occasion -- so I figured I'd share. Ever since the BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES volume 4 soundtrack came out, more or less coinciding with the birth of my son, I've been in a TAS mood and I've spent a number of late nights with the baby streaming episodes on my iPad (more on that next weekend, by the way). One of my all-time favorites is "The Demon's Quest", based upon "Daughter of the Demon" from BATMAN #232 and "The Demon Lives Again" from BATMAN 244, both by the venerable Dennis O'Neil/Neal Adams team.

So for whatever reason I was wondering what the cover to BATMAN 232 would look like in the ANIMATED SERIES style. This led to a furious week or so of work last month, which resulted in the following:

Friday, September 9, 2016


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

The Plot: Optimus Prime searches for Megatron within Cybertron while Starscream reviews Megatron's plans for the planet at Decepticon headquarters. Soon, Megatron ambushes Prime and the two duel while elsewhere, Grimlock gathers a team for a secret mission. Beneath the planet's crust, the fight between Prime and Megatron continues, while above, Starscream plots.

In Iacon, Shockwave's forces make their final march on the Autobots while under Cybertron's surface, Megatron gains the upper hand on Prime and tears him open to grab the Matrix. Above, Grimlock and his team prepare to head underground and rescue Prime, even as the Matrix somehow transports Prime and Megatron to another place.

Continuity Notes: Optimus Prime receives another talking to (sans accompanying vision) from an ethereal voice beneath Cybertron's surface.

Grimlock's team consists of Kup, Ironhide, and Wheeljack. This does not appear to be any sort of GENERATION ONE callback as far as I can tell, which is surprising from Dreamwave and Simon Furman.

Monday, September 5, 2016


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

The Plot: As the Fantastic Four and NYPD stand at the former site of the Baxter Building, a bout of bigotry and hatred breaks out among the populace, resulting in She-Hulk and Wyatt getting arrested. Johnny and Reed head for Avengers Mansion to mull over the incident while Sue escorts Alicia home, but all are observed by the new Hate Monger and his mysterious master.

Meanwhile, the paddy wagon carrying She-Hulk and Wyatt is bombed by a group of criminals mistakenly looking to spring one of their own. She-Hulk tells Wyatt to stay with the cops while she travels to the Baxter Building, but en route she is attacked by Malice, mistress of hate. Malice defeats She-Hulk and then reveals her true identity as Sue Richards as Hate Monger congratulates her on her performance.

At Avengers Mansion, Reed analyzes a hate pamphlet similar to the ones Johnny encountered previously, and determines that the paper was not manufactured on Earth. But before he can consider this further, Franklin enters the room and declares that he dreamed Sue had killed Reed and Johnny.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


BLOODTIES: Hardcover, 2011. Collects 1993's AVENGERS #368 & 369, AVENGERS WEST COAST #101, UNCANNY X-MEN #307, X-MEN #26, and 1996's BLACK KNIGHT: EXODUS.


In 1993, the X-Men jumped directly from one crossover into another. The first, "Fatal Attractions", was within the X-family as we saw last time. The second, "Bloodties", teamed the X-Men with the Avengers in a celebration of the two groups' shared thirtieth anniversary. The catalyst for the crossover was Luna, child of the mutant Quicksilver and Inhuman Crystal, and the villain of the piece was Exodus, the leader of Magneto's Acolytes who had just debuted a few months earlier during the "Fatal Attractions" event.

AVENGERS/X-MEN: BLOODTIES is an installment in the since discontinued Marvel Premiere Classic Hardcover line, a set of books which originally began as more-or-less straight reprints of long out-of-print storylines (among the earliest volumes were the acclaimed SPIDER-MAN: KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT, the Claremont/Miller WOLVERINE, and Barry Windsor-Smith's WEAPON X). Unlike the majority of the "oversized" X-MEN hardcovers I've looked at so far, the Premiere Classics were published in standard trim size, meaning the pages are no larger than those of a normal comic book or trade paperback. BLOODTIES was the eighty-second in the Premiere Classic line, and it's a very nice package.

Friday, September 2, 2016


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

The Plot: Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker argue over a botched mission, then go their separate ways. Elsewhere, Megatron's forces pursue Optimus Prime deeper into Cybertron while ahead, Prime sees a vision of himself talking about the planet. As the Decepticons under Shockwave's command lay siege to Iacon, Prime battles Ravage.

At Decepticon headquarters, Megatron reveals his plan to turn Cybertron into a cosmic dreadnought to Starscream, and states that he needs the Autobot Matrix of Leadership as a power source for the massive craft. Starscream scoffs at this idea. Meanwhile, Optimus defeats Ravage, the Insecticons and the rest of Megatron's forces beneath the surface. Elsewhere, Prowl contacts Grimlock with a mission.

Beneath Cybertron's surface, Megatron catches up with Optimus Prime and challenges him, but Starscream shows up and blasts away the bridge on which the two are standing. As Starscream gloats, they plummet deeper into the planet.

Continuity Notes: The off-page encounter between Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker versus Grimlock occurred in WAR WITHIN #0, which I don't own and thus have skipped for this review series.

Optimus Prime's vision claims it is comprised of those who previously ventured into Cybertron seeking a connection with it.