Friday, December 30, 2016


Though Dreamwave's WAR WITHIN: THE AGE OF WRATH mini-series ended in 2004 with issue 3 when the publisher went bankrupt, issues 4 through 6 were all solicited and in subsequent years Simon Furman made his scripts and/or synopses for the issues available to the public at conventions. All solicits and additional information courtesy of the Transformers Wiki, though they can be found elsewhere online as well.

Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Joe Ng | Inks: Tracy Ho

Issue 4 Solicit: ALONE! Stranded on a strange alien world, far, far from Cybertron, Turbomaster Flash is about to realize there really is no place like home... even when home is ruled by arch tyrant Megatron and his legions of clone warriors. The terrible truth behind the invasion and conquest of Cybertron is finally revealed. Now all Flash has to do is stay alive long enough to tell someone!

Issue 5 Solicit: HE'S BACK! Optimus Prime, right? Well... maybe. But then again... maybe not! Blaster's desperate bid to free the enslaved Autobots lies in ruins, his and his entire team's lives are Megatron's to take at his will. But in their darkest hour, a hero returns to the fray, a force too powerful to be contained even by death's dark dominion. Prepare to be shocked senseless all over again!

Issue 6 Solicit: Last Stand! Finally... the battle you've been waiting for! Optimus Prime returns to take on his archenemy Megatron. But is Prime the 'bot he was? Scarred mentally and physically by his nightmarish exile, Prime plainly may not be up to the job! But if he can't beat Megatron and stop the rise of his second-generation clone army ... who can?

Monday, December 26, 2016

FANTASTIC FOUR #294 & #295

Plotter: John Byrne (#294) | Scripter: Roger Stern | Penciler: Jerry Ordway
Inker: Al Gordon | Letterer: John Workman | Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Special Thanks to John Byrne (#295)

The Plot: (Issue 294) Inside the futuristic upper Central City within the black dome, the Fantastic Four and Wyatt are assaulted and soon defeated by misshapen mutants. The creatures’ priestess recognizes them, however, and brings them before the city’s Coordinator, Harvey Jessup. The FF learn that Jessup constructed the black barrier as a way to protect Central City from nuclear holocaust, but where his intention was to isolate the city while time passed much faster outside, the opposite occurred.

But Jessup, now an old man brought in and out of suspended animation for certain important situations, refuses to believe Reed and attacks the FF with his “ultimate adjudicator” helmet.

(Issue 295) Sue saves the FF from the ultimate adjudicator by using her power to slowly turn them invisible, making it appear they’ve been disintegrated. The group soon encounters a woman named Murna, once the city’s high priestess. She reveals She-Hulk is beneath the city in suspended animation. While Johnny, Wyatt, and Murna go to save She-Hulk, Reed and Sue go after Jessup.

She-Hulk is freed and the two groups reunite as Sue and Reed battle Jessup’s minions. Murna links Reed’s and Jessup’s minds and Jessup finally realizes the truth of his mistake. As he dies, he places Murna, his daughter, in command of the city. Reed then uses Jessup’s device to shunt the dome 10,000 years into the future, even as the FF rescue all the original citizens of Central City, hidden underground in suspended animation.

Once more in the real world, Reed realizes Jessup’s lying to his subjects were not all that different from Reed withholding the truth from Ben about the nature of his transformation. Now aware that the Thing is out there somewhere, injured, Reed makes plans to go find him.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: In issue 294, Sue conveniently forgets everything that happened to the FF over the past, oh, ten minutes, and asks Wyatt to explain it all to her. The recap is much less painful in issue 295, where an omniscient narrator simply describes the past couple installments’ events on the first page before jumping into the action.

Jessup’s mutants are all genetically altered to be bizarre representations of the Fantastic Four, and his “Things” wear helmets of the type Ben used in early FF issues (and more recently in Byrne’s FANTASTIC FOUR #239).

Sunday, December 25, 2016


It's been some time since I did a little list like this, but for whatever reason, not long ago I was thinking about which artists I consider to be my favorites of all time in the comic book field. It honestly didn't take much thought at all to come up with five; these guys all came to mind immediately with very little head-scratching or consideration over anyone else. So in alphabetical order, here they are:
  • Mark Bagley: I first encountered Bagley as the regular artist on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN when I became a regular ongoing reader with issue 360 (which was a fill-in, but Bagley returned for the next installment). At the time I wasn't all that enamored with him; he seemed to draw people's heads too small for their bodies sometimes, and as his time on AMAZING went along, he drew Spider-Man's eyes larger and larger until they seemed to take up about 75 percent of his head. But over the years, on THUNDERBOLTS and his subsequent work for Marvel, I've come to love his expressive style. I really like the way he draws musculature; his characters are all sinew and strength, and I love the way he draws faces these days. Plus, in Tom DeFalco's COMICS CREATORS ON SPIDER-MAN book, he admitted that he loves drawing "big, strong buxom women", which is always a plus in my book. Bagley is one of only two artists who I will always check out on Marvel Unlimited even if I have no interest in reading the actual issue he drew (the other of those two is #3 below).

Friday, December 23, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Joe Ng | Inks: Tracy Ho & Erik Sander
Additional Inks: Ferd Poblete | Colors: Rob Ruffalo & Eric Burns | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: At Autobot resistance headquarters, Percetptor gathers the Turbomasters and explains that he plans to locate the missing Optimus Prime. Meanwhile, Nightbeat and his group inspect their captured air warrior clone, but it comes back to life and attacks them. Elsewhere, Perceptor describes his plan to locate Prime.

Meanwhile, Shockwave berates Rumble and Frenzy over apparently disrupting his analysis of the clones, then leaves them to finish cataloguing all known Autobot casualties. But as they reach Grimlock's name on the list, something behind them explodes, leaving a face-shaped mark in the wall.

Nightbeat and friends continue to wage a losing battled against their clone opponent until it inexplicably stops fighting and shuts down once more. Blaster and Perceptor discuss strategy while the Turbomasters play a game of high-speed hide-and-seek. But when Turbomaster Flash returns to Perceptor's briefing chamber, where a space bridge portal is open to facilitate the search for Optimus, he somehow drives through and winds up in another location.

Continuity Notes: The story opens with news anchor Slamdance recapping Starscream's slaughter of the Transformer high council in issue 1.

The Autobot resistance is operating out of Iacon, which seems kind of foolhardy, given that was always the Autobots' headquarters.

We learn that Optimus Prime and Megatron were believed killed in the space bridge accident that claimed them circa THE DARK AGES #1, which is why no one search for them until now. But, with Megatron back, Perceptor believes Optimus Prime is out there someplace as well. And, just before Flash vanishes through the space bridge portal, a readout on Perceptor's monitor indicates that he may have been located.

Monday, December 19, 2016


Writer/Penciler: John Byrne | Inker: Al Gordon
Letterer: John Workman | Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Mike Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Wyatt Wingfoot receives a call from She-Hulk informing him that Reed Richards’ hometown of Cental City, California has vanished into a giant black dome. Wyatt fetches the rest of the Fantastic Four and they depart for the city.

Meanwhile, She-Hulk and the West Coast Avengers investigate the dome. Iron Man assembles a device which allows him entrance, but when he emerges after less than a second, he claims that he was inside for three weeks. Wonder Man takes Iron Man back to WCA headquarters to recharge, leaving She-Hulk and Tigra behind to watch as the dome begins growing. It quickly swallows She-Hulk.

The FF and Wyatt arrives and Tigra informs them of the situation. Wasting no time, the team enters the dome to find Central City has been built upward into a futuristic metropolis apparently devoid of inhabitants. As they explore, the FF are startled to come across replicas of the Baxter Building and a large statue devoted to them.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


The final unboxing of the year is an all-Marvel extravaganza. First up is LUKE CAGE, IRON FIST, AND THE HEROES FOR HIRE volume 1. This mouthful of a title reprints the first half of the late nineties series that was originally called simply HEROES FOR HIRE. I seem to recall this series was advertised as being written by Roger Stern, but John Ostrander eventually stepped in instead and, with Pascual Ferry on art chores, provided a very fun, often funny eighteen-issue series spotlighting several of Marvel's B- and C-list stars. This was one of my favorite Marvel series as it was coming out and it's great to have it collected (in full as of next month, as the second volume was fast-tracked for release in January).

Friday, December 16, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Joe Ng | Inks: Ferd Poblete
Additional Inks: Tracy Ho & Erik Sander | Colors: Josh Burcham, Sig Torre, & Ruffs
Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Megatron leads the Decepticons once more, and the Autobots serve him as slave labor. After torturing Starscream, Megatron chats with Shockwave about a cloning experiment.

Meanwhile, Megatron's clone warriors chase down the Autobot Getaway. Elsewhere, the Autobots work under Decepticon supervision deep beneath Cybertron's surface. When Brawn rebels, he is shocked into submission. At the same time, Getaway continues his escape. Megatron receives a report from Soundwave stating that the Autobots have dug a shaft all the way to the center of Cybertron.

Getaway lures the Decepticon clones into an Autobot ambush, and they are wiped out -- save one for study by Perceptor.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Writer/Penciler: John Byrne | Inker: Al Gordon
Colorist: Glynis Oliver | Letterer: John Workman
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Invisible Woman, She-Hulk, Human Torch, and “Licorice” Calhoun fly to Berlin, intent on stopping Nick Fury from assassinating Adolf Hitler. Meanwhile, Fury sneaks into Hitler’s sanctum and attacks the dictator, but is taken out by his guards. The Fantastic Trio arrives soon after and battles a giant Nazi robot, then Sue goes in search of Fury.

She finds him under interrogation and frees him. They're making their way out of the room, Sue having convinced Fury not to kill Hitler, when the Führer draws a gun. Fury whirls and shoots him.

Then, suddenly, Fury and the others awaken in a modern day SHIELD facility with Mister Fantastic watching over them. Reed explains that Licorice is a mutant and has been in a coma for fifty years. In his dreams, his power recently began creating brief time warps, one of which sucked in the FF members and Fury when She-Hulk rescued him from being killed in 1936. Licorice’s survival resulted in no more time warps, but also trapped the group in his dream with him. Fury’s killing Hitler finally jolted them free.

Friday, December 9, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Joe Ng | Inks: Tracy Ho | Additional Inks: Ferd Poblete
Colors: Rob Ruffalo, David Cheung, & Josh Burcham | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: Following a long and bloody campaign led by Ultra Magnus, the reunified Autobots have overcome the Decepticons and Ultracons and forged a loose peace on Cybertron. As Magnus and Grimlock prepare for the ratification of the treaty, Starscream and his Predacons plan to attack.

Later, in Iacon, Ultra Magnus greets Shockwave and Ratbat, representing their factions. Grimlock receives word that a pair of ore transports are en route to the city, and he orders the Dynobots to shoot them down. Meanwhile, Starscream invades the Iacon council pavilion and assassinates the elder Transformers inside.

The Autobots, Decepticons, and Ultracons fight back against the Predacons and Motormaster snipes Ultra Magnus from above -- but Grimlock leaps into the blast's path and takes the shot instead. As Grimlock dies in Magnus's arms, he, Ratbat, Shockwave, and thier allies are surrounded by an army of Decepticon clones led by Megatron.

Continuity Notes: This story takes place between WAR WITHIN: THE DARK AGES and MICROMASTERS (remember, I'm covering these issues in publication order rather than chronological order). As noted above, while the Decepticons are still splintered into three factions, Ultra Magnus has unified the Autobots since the last WAR WITHIN series.

Monday, December 5, 2016


Writer/Penciler: John Byrne | Inker: P. Craig Russell
Colorist: Glynis Oliver | Letterer: John Workman
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Nick Fury, She-Hulk, the Human Torch and the Invisible Woman land in an alley in 1936 Manhattan. Cloaking Fury’s car to resemble a delivery truck, they head out into the city to investigate but police attempt to pull them over. Fury eludes the cops and the group suddenly finds New York returned to normal. Johnny departs in a hurry to check on Alicia, but while he's with her the time warp occurs once more.

Meanwhile, Fury has crashed his car in an attempt to enter SHIELD Central via a holographic wall which is actually just a wall in 1936. Sue leaves Fury with She-Hulk and heads out to look for help. Meanwhile, She-Hulk speaks to the SHIELD space platform via Fury’s communicator and learns the time warp is localized. She ends the call to save a clarinetist named “Licorice” Calhoun from a group of hoods.

Licorice babbles to She-Hulk about his dreams, which often come true, and how his boss tried to force him to dream a racehorse to victory. But while he speaks, Fury comes around and learns that the localized time warp has expanded across the world. He immediately takes off in his flying car to assassinate Hitler in Germany just as Sue returns.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Johhny declares that with Reed dead, Sue is now the leader of the Fantastic Four.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Volume 1: Paperback, 2014. Collects 1995's X-MEN PRIME, UNCANNY X-MEN #322 - 326, X-MEN #42 - 45, X-MEN ANNUAL '95, and X-MEN UNLIMITED #8.

Volume 2: Paperback, 2014. Collects 1995-96's UNCANNY X-MEN #327 & 328, X-MEN #46 - 49, X-MEN UNLIMITED #9, X-MEN/CLANDESTINE #1 & 2, and SABRETOOTH SPECIAL.

Volume 3: Paperback, 2014. Collects 1996's UNCANNY X-MEN #329 - 332, X-MEN #50 - 52, X-MEN UNLIMITED #10, X-MEN/BROOD #1 & 2, ARCHANGEL #1, WOLVERINE #101, and the XAVIER INSTITUTE ALUMNI YEARBOOK.

In 2014, Marvel enacted an ambitious plan to plug the gap between the AGE OF APOCALYPSE OMNIBUS and the ONSLAUGHT OMNIBUS with a series of three big trade paperbacks collecting every issue of X-MEN, UNCANNY X-MEN, X-MEN UNLIMITED, and other odds and ends which ran between 1995 and 1996. The result is a set of handsome books chock full of stories by various creators.

Volume one wastes no time, kicking right off with X-MEN PRIME, establishing the post-"Age of Apocalypse" X-universe. Then we have UNCANNY X-MEN 322, in which Onslaught's name is first spoken by Juggernaut -- though at that point no one, not even series writer Scott Lobdell, knew who or even what "Onslaught" was. X-MEN 42 through 44 follow, as writer Fabian Nicieza tells a story of Cyclops and Jean Grey and their roles in the fall of Magneto's space station, Avalon. Then it's back to UNCANNY for issues 323 and 324, featuring the debut of the mutant terrorists known as Gene Nation.

Next comes X-MEN ANNUAL '95 starring Jean and Beast and featuring my all-time favorite Mister Sinister story, by J.M. DeMatteis, Terry Dodson, and John Paul Leon. After this, it's a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the "All-New, All-Different" X-Men in UNCANNY #325 and X-MEN #45, featuring a reunion between Colossus and his former teammates and a connection between Gambit and Mister Sinister, respectively. X-MEN 45 is also the final issue from Nicieza, who had been the series' scripter all the way back to #11.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Writers: James McDonough & Adam Patyk | Pencils: Rob Ruffalo | Inks: Erik Sander
Colors: Sig Torre, Eric Byrns, Josh Perez, & Josh Burcham | Letters: Ben Lee

The Plot: The Autobot Micromasters return to Countdown for help defending Little Iacon, but Countdown declares they will all go to Decepticon headquarters instead. Meanwhile, Skystalker impersonates Shockwave and tricks the Decepticons into launching an assault on the Autobots. The Autobots get wind of the Decepticons' movement and plan to intercept them in the Badlands.

At Decepticon headquarters, the Autobot Micromasters encounter the Insecticons and destroy them, then meet up with their Decepticon counterparts. Countdown locates Shockwave's head, detached from his body by Skytalker, who attempts to drop it on him. Big Daddy rescues Countdown but Skystalker escapes. Meanwhile, the Decepcticon Micromasters make peace with the Autobots and decide to join forces.

Elsewhere, the full-size Decepticons have defeated the full-size Autobots in the Badlands and are about to finish them off when the united Micromasters arrive and prove their might by presenting the Decepticons with Shockwave's severed head. The spooked Decepticons then retreat, and in the aftermath of the fight, Big Daddy strikes out on his own.