Friday, January 29, 2021


Story by: Akira Toriyama | Art by: Toyotarou

The action continues on New Planet Namek, as Vegeta challenges Moro one-on-one. During the duel, Vegeta extracts from Moro the fact that he plans to collect the Dragon Balls and wish himself back to his prime in terms of power (a goal quite similar to Piccolo's when he first appeared as an elderly demon in the original DRAGON BALL). Vegeta then reveals he's been holding back and attempts to kill Moro, but learns too late that the villain's life-draining powers operate passively, and he has sucked enough vitality out of Vegeta that he's unable to go Super Saiyan and finish the fight.

Moro easily defeats Goku and Vegeta, sapping thier life forces until both are at death's door, and growing younger and stronger in the process. He heads out in search of his Freeza Force minion, Cranberry, to find Namek's Dragon Balls. Time passes (a week total since Goku and Vegeta left Earth, and three days following their incapacitation). On Earth, Bulma contacts Jaco and orders him to send a ship to take her to New Namek. On Namek, Goku and Vegeta are revived by the Namekians, but are still considerably low on power. Moro has acquired six Dragon Balls, and defeated the Namekians' graeatest warrior (a fusion of dozens of powerful Namekians) with a single blow.

Goku and Vegeta catch up with Moro again, but before they can act, Merus appears in a Galactic Patrol ship. He engages Moro and quickly subdues him. Jaco then releases Majin Boo from the ship, but Boo now has the memories of the Kaioshin inside him unlocked. He attacks and easily gains the upper hand on Moro. But in all the chaos, Cranberry has escaped -- and just as Boo is about to finish Moro, the sky over Namek goes dark and Porunga the dragon appears. Cranberry has found the final Dragon Ball. Porunga offers him the customary three wishes, and the uncreative Cranberry first wishes to be restored to full health. Then he makes Moro's wish -- to have the ancient wizard's magic fully restored. Cranberry is next about to wish himself away from Namek forever, when Moro appears and kills him.

Sunday, January 24, 2021


Written by Andrew Robinson | Directed by Sebastian Montes

The Plot: Kang the Conqueror arrives at Earth in the early 21st century. Meanwhile, Captain America trains Tony Stark in hand-to-hand combat at Avengers Mansion, but the pair is soon attacked by Kang, who announces his plan to eliminate Captain America from the timeline. Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Panther soon join the battle, with Ant-Man, Wasp, and Thor close behind.
Kang explains that his future was compeltely wiped out by a temporal storm, which he believes to have been caused by the existence of an anomaly -- Captain America -- which should not exist in the 21st century. He then transports the Avengers ten years inot the future, showing them the post-apocalyptic ruins of New York City, caused by a Kree/Skrull war which Captain America helped to incite. Kang then demands that the Avengers turn Captain America over and allow him to conquer the planet in order to prepare it for the coming war.

The Avengers refuse, and while most of the group battles Kang, Iron Man seizes control of his time travel chair and transports everyone back home. Kang then teleports away, and his invasion fleet apperas in space around his flagship.

Friday, January 22, 2021


Story by: Akira Toriyama | Art by: Toyotarou

Last week we looked at the first chunk of this volume, which featured the conclusion of the Tournament of Power. The book features a little note from Toyotarou at the beginning, where he notes that he added some additional pages for the collected editions which were not printed in the SHONEN JUMP issues. I have no idea what pages are new, though, so I'm just calling it as I see it when reading this stuff.

The tournament ends in the volume's second chapter, but that chapter then continues, reminding readers that the BROLY movie comes next, and then we skip ahead an undetermined amount of time to find Goku and Vegeta training inside the Capsule Corporation gravity chamber. But they're soon called by Bulma, who has been alerted by Mr. Satan that someone is kidnapping Majin Boo. Goku and Vegeta head for Satan's estate, where they're quickly subdued by a member of the Galactic Patrol named Merus. Later, at Patrol headquarters, the Saiyans bump into Jaco and his supervisor, who inform them that a criminal has busted out of galactic prison and the Patrol needs to remove the Kaisoshin who lives inside Boo to obtain his help in apprehending the escapee.

By the way, I should mention that I absolutely love that Merus simply zaps Goku and Vegeta with a stun ray and they're immediately knocked out. It makes little sense, given what we've seen them survive, but it's fun to see the normally all-powerful fighters taken out by a simple blaster. If they ever find themselves up against a guy with a gun as the main villain of a saga, apparently they're in big trouble! And speaking of guns, there's a moment that I can't help laughing at for some reason -- as Merus is loading the slumbering Boo into his spaceship, Mister Satan draws an automatic pistol from his gi to take a pot shot at the patrolman. No idea why the idea of Satan packing heat while hanging around his mansion tickles me so much, but it does. (Though I also find it a bit against his character. Wasn't he shown to be staunchly anti-gun when he knocked out those two guys on a shooting spree during the Boo Saga?)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


Boy, these Unboxings have become few and far between lately, huh? I haven't done one since... July?! I can't believe that's right, but apparently it is. Between last summer and now, I bought no physical books. I have picked up some digital items here and there, but they've been so few and far between that they really weren't worth posting about. And this dearth of new purchases isn't for lack of trying on my part, mind you -- but rather, as I've mentioned once or twice before, Marvel and DC just aren't putting out as much of the classic material I personally want. (Or, more accurately, they aren't filling in the gaps that remain, because they've released a ton of classic stuff and I've bought it all already!)

Nonetheless, January always brings something, so let's see what we have this time. First, from Marvel as usual, it's two hardcovers: first is the MOON KNIGHT OMNIBUS, collecting many of the original stories written by his creator, Doug Moench, and drawn by several artists, most notably Bill Sienkiewicz. This will be replacing my MOON KNIGHT Epic Collections on the bookcase.

And the second item from Marvel is the THANOS: INFINITY SAGA OMNIBUS, which collects all of Jim Starlin's latter-day stories of the Mad Titan, released as various annuals, mini-series, and graphic novels throughout the past ten years or so. Since Starlin has sworn off working for Marvel ever again, this will close the book on Thanos as far as I'm concerned, and I look forward to reading it someday.

For Christmas, my wife gave me her custumary gift of one of the newest CARL BARKS DISNEY LIBRARY books, THE TWENTY-FOUR CARAT MOON.

And then there's digital. To close out the year, Marvel and DC both had sales, as they always do. I have a bunch of Marvel Epic Collections on my digital shopping list, but I was a little bummed that there wasn't a big five dollar a pop Epic sale like they ran last year. Instead, there was a sale on Marvel Masterworks, at only 99 cents to two dollars each -- which is great in theory, except that I already have nearly all the digital Masterworks I want, or digital Epic Collections containing the same contents. Nonetheless, I did pick up a few of the books which I simply couldn't pass up for the price: DAZZLER MASTERWORKS vol. 1, DEATHLOK MASTERWORKS vol. 1, KILLRAVEN MASTERWORKS vol. 1, and SPIDER-WOMAN MASTERWORKS vol. 1.

And in the DC sale, I grabbed a few items as well: that old standby, BATMAN: TALES OF THE DEMON (which factored heavily into my look at Batman in the Seventies a couple years ago), NEW TEEN TITANS vol. 11 (which will hopefully someday factor into a continuation of my NEW TEEN TITANS reviews from a number of years ago), SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN (which I've been eyeballing for months and seriously cannot wait to read), and WONDER WOMAN BY GEORGE PEREZ vol. 4 (which, again, may someday down the line be used to continue the WONDER WOMAN by George Perez reviews I did in 2018).

And that about covers it! I don't know when the next Unboxing will be; in fact I may change it from a monthly feature (which it clearly has not been at all recently, with only four installments in 2020) to something I do on an "as warranted" basis. But I guess we'll find out going foward. I do know that I have two Marvel Omnibuses on order, which should release in February and March, respectively (meaning they would make the Unboxings for March and April), but after that I don't think there's much on the horizon at the moment...

Monday, January 18, 2021


Written by Kevin Burke & Chris Wyatt | Directed by Vinton Heuck

The Plot: A meeting between AIM (led by MODOK) and Hydra (led by the Grim Reaper) is interrupted by Hawkeye, in search of Black Widow. The archer forces both groups into retreat, and then is brought to the SHIELD helicarrier by Clay Quartermain. There, Nick Fury berates Hawkeye for getting in SHIELD's way, while Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Panther watch. Hawkeye leaves in a huff, but is followed by Cap and the Panther, who tell him that they want to help him find Hydra. In the hallway, the group bumps into SHIELD agent Bobbie Morse, codename Mockingbird, and the quartet heads out in search of Hydra, following a tracker Hawkeye planted on the Grim Reaper.
Hawkeye and Mockingbird attack the Reaper and his Hydra team at an abandoned military base, and are captured -- but Cap and Black Panther secretly follow in a Quinjet as the Reaper's team takes them away -- until the Hydra craft cloaks, causing the duo to lose their quarry. The Reaper delivers his prisoners to Baron Strucker at Hydra headquarters, where they are imprisoned. But the pair soon break out of their cell and activate a tracking beacon, which Cap and Black Panther lock in on.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird battle the hordes of Hydra in Strucker's throne room, but are quickly put on the defensive until Captain America and Black Panther burst in. Cap comes face-to-face with Strucker, but Black Widow pulls the villain to safety as he engages his island's self-destruct sequence. In the chaos of battle, Hawkeye finds himself with a choice to finish the traitorous Black Wodow or save Mockingbird from Madame Hydra, and chooses the latter -- but he still manages to confront the Widow as she attempts escape with Strucker. The Widow beats Hawkeye down, and Strucker tries to steal his life force, but the Widow blasts Strucker in the back.

SHIELD arrives just as Hydra's island complex blows up, but the Avengers escape with the Grim Reaper and Madame Hydra in custody. Fury chews out Cap, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther, then dismisses them. Back in New York, Black Widow tells Strucker that it was Black Panther who knocked him out.

Friday, January 15, 2021


Story by: Akira Toriyama | Art by: Toyotarou

The eighth DRAGON BALL SUPER installments opens with a focus on Freeza battling Caulifla and Kale, two of the Saiyans from Universe 6. Caulifla, having learned from Cabba how to go Super Saiyan, puts up a strong showing against Freeza, until the villain changes to his ultimate form -- Golden Freeza. Interestingly, however the RESURRECTION "F" storyline went in the manga (remember, we have no idea since it was inexplicably skipped with the weak reason that readers should just go watch the movie instead), it's clear that it was at least partially different from the anime -- because while Freeza revealed his Golden form in both the movie and TV versions of that story, here everyone (including Goku) is surprised by it.

When Golden Freeza gains the upper hand on Caulifla, her friend Kale steps in, revealing a "new" Super Saiyan form no one has ever seen. This is, famously, the first canon version of the "Legendary Super Saiyan" power-up achieved by Broly in the 1990s DBZ movies -- all of which existed outside of the official continuity. Kale begins beating on Freeza to the point that Goku has to step in and save him, and the pair briefly battles her together until she zips away from the fight on a rampage.

Kale singel-handedly completes the elimnation of four universes, but her mindlessness takes a toll and Universe 11's Pride Troopers work together to subdue her. Caulifla, meanwhile, reveals that she stole the Potara earrings from her universe's Kaioshin. When Champa sees this from the stands, he orders Caulfila to put on one earring and get the other on Kale. With the help (and sacrifice) of Cabba, an earring is placed on Kale, and Caulifla dons the other. The pair fuses into a being called Kefla, who promptly wipes out the majority of the Pride Troopers -- then Gohan steps in to challenge her, resulting in a double knockout which eliminates Gohan and sees Universe 6 wiped out.

Monday, January 11, 2021


Story by Ciro Nieli | Written by Joelle Sellner | Directed by Vinton Heuck

The Plot: Ant-Man and the Wasp arrive at a remote deeo soace observatory manned by Carol Danvers and Doctor Phillip Lawson, who believe they've spotted an extraterrestrial vehicle approaching Earth. The UFO attacks the facility's radar tower and then lands in the forest. Carol leads Wasp ant Ant-Man out to search for it, while Lawson stays behind. Out in the forest, after some brief investigation, the trio is confronted and attacked by a large robot.
Carol returns to the observatory to warn Lawson, but the robot, having deafeated Ant-Man, follows with Wasp in pursuit. As Carol and Wasp battle the robot, a machine explodes, irradiating Carol with energy and revealing that Lawson is no human, but an alien warrior named Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell tries to deactivate the robot with an order, but it ignores him and destroys the facility's power core. Mar-Vell rescues Carol and Wasp, and as Carol recovers at the hospital, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk arrive. Mar-Vell explains his origin as a member of the alien Kree race, and describs the robot as a Sentry drone.

Having learned from Mar-Vell that the Sentry possesses a last resort, planet-destroying nega-bomb, the Avengers set out to stop it. The group engages the robot and stops it, but the bomb is active. When Mar-Vell's superior, Yon-Rogg, contacts him, the Kree hero tries to convince him to spare Earth, but Yon-Rogg refuses. Mar-Vell tries to fly the bomb into space, but is unable to make it until Thor and Iron Man aid him. The nega-bomb explodes outside Earth's atmosphere and the Avengers regroup at Carol's hospital room, which is now shared with Hank Pym, who was injured in the fight. There, Mar-Vell says goodbye and departs to try and convince his people to spare Earth.

Friday, January 8, 2021


Story by: Akira Toriyama | Art by: Toyotarou

The Tournament of Power begins in DRAGON BALL SUPER volume 7, as the ten best fighters from six of the twelve universes gather for a battle royale from which only one universe will emerge intact. After a few pages of the various fighters scoping each other out, the rules are explained: no flying, no killing. If you're knocked off the ring, you're eliminated from the tournament and teleported to the stands to observe the rest of the fight alongside your universe's gods. The last universe standing -- or whichever universe has the most fighters left after 48 minutes -- wins it all.

With all that out of the way, the tournament begins. Universe 9 is quickly eliminated by the other fighters' combined efforts. Meanwhile Freeza makes a deal with his Universe 6 counterpart, Frost. If Frost will go all-out first and eliminate as many fighters as he can, Freeza will "tap in" for him when he's exhausted to continue the fight. Frost abides, taking out several fighters, including Krillin and Tenshinhan of Universe 6. But he eventually tires, and Freeza reveals his true colors, taking Frost out of the fight.

We then move to follow Goku and Hit as they battle Universe 11's greatest warriors, the Pride Troopers -- led by Top, who Goku met and dueled in the previous volume. Eventually, Goku and Hit move their attention to the strongest Pride Trooper, Jiren, and despite new techniques developed by Hit since his last fight against Goku, Jiren makes fast work of Universe 6's greatest warrior. With Hit eliminated, focus switches to the rest of Universe 7's fighters, jumping around between Vegeta, Gohan, Piccolo, Seventeen, and Eighteen as they battle the various universes' other warriors. By the end of the volume, Eighteen and Piccolo have been eliminated, leaving Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Roshi, Seventeen, and Freeza as reprsentatives against the remaining fighters.

Monday, January 4, 2021


Writer: Christopher Yost
Production: Taylor Esposito & Irene Y. Lee | Editors: Michael Horwitz & Nathan Cosby
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine

One thing that bugs me occasionally with tie-in comics is the chronology. Folks who read this blog regularly are quite aware that I take timelines very seriously. I like to know exactly where stories are taking place in relation to one another, down to the day if possible. And while this mini-series, published by Marvel in 2010 to tie in with the TV show, doesn't go quite that far, it does slot very neatly into place among the show's episodes. In all likelihood, that's due to the fact that the comic is written by the series' showrunner, Christopher Yost -- which gives this particular tie-in the distinction of being an official part of the series canon, unlike a lot of other such comics.

Each of the first three issues features one lead story and one backup, with the final issue being a book-length adventure. The timeline is a little weird, though: issue 1 obviously takes place after episode 13, "Gamma World Part 2", due to the fact that Hawkeye is among the Avengers. Issue 2's placement is nebulous, as Hawkeye doesn't appear, but it definitely takes place after episode 10, "Everything is Wonderful", by virtue of a cameo appearance from Wonder Man, and before episode 14, "Masters of Evil" since it depicts Baron Zemo recruiting a member of his team. Issue 3 is set after episode 11, "Panther's Quest", as Black Panther is among the Avengers, but it also precedes episode 12, "Gamma World Part 1", as the Hulk is still on the run. Finally, issue 4 is clearly set after episode 19, "The Kang Dynasty", because it features the full lineup (i.e., Hawkeye and Hulk are among the team), the Avengers are familiar with the Masters of Evil when they show up, and Cap makes refernce to Kang's invasion of Earth. Not sure why Yost went with a mostly chronological setup aside from Hawkeye's weird inclusion in issue 1, but what are you gonna do (aside from read #1 between 3 and 4 whenever re-reading the series to assuage your anal-retentive tendencies*)?

The backup stories jump around a lot more. Hawkeye and Black Panther are the stars of the first issue's backup, so it's clearly set after "Gamma World". Hulk is among the Avengers in the second story's backup, setting it either prior to episode 8, "Some Assembly Required" (which is possible since we never see Captain America, Hawkeye, or Black Panther in the story) or subsequent to "Gamma World". Issue 3's backup stars only Captain America and the Wasp, so it can be placed anywhere after episode 9, "Living Legend".

Now, without further ado, on with the show -- err, comic:

Friday, January 1, 2021


As is tradition, the time is upon us for the annual Year in Review post, with a glance at what's upcoming. And I don't think I need to mention that it's been an... interesting and unusual year in the real world. But fortunately for all of us, this blog is about as far divorced from reality as is possible! So with that in mind, let's recap the past year's worth of posts.

It's been no secret that I had trouble keeping up my normal twice-weekly posting schedule beginning the middle of 2019. So 2020 started out with (mostly) one post per week, on Mondays -- and as I try to do every year, I opened things up with some manga, looking at DRAGON BALL SUPER and a couple of other DB items of note. That was followed with a "Springtime Grab Bag" consisting of a European comic series called LADY S and an assortment of items from DC, Dynamite, Dark Horse (by way of Marvel), and IDW, running a gamut of characters such as Conan, Red Sonja, Wonder Woman, He-Man and the ThunderCats, and the Transformers and the crew of the starship Enterprise.

Then we looked at Joe Casey's AVENGERS mini-series from the mid-to-late-00s, EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES I and II, and AVENGERS: THE ORIGIN. After that, we stuck with Marvel, but went a different direction, examining several years worth of Spider-Man newspaper strips by Stan Lee and a variety of artistic collaborators.

The newspaper strip motif continued as we moved into the adventures of SECRET AGENT X-9 by Alex Raymond, and then checked in on that strip again decades later after it had become SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson. That strip wrapped up last month, which led into a Monday hiatus for the final few weeks of the year as I geared up for 2021.

And around the same time I started looking at X-9, I also finally brought back Friday posts, looking for the first time ever at a TV series on an episode-by-episode basis -- and in keeping with the subject matter of this blog, it was a comic book-inspired show, AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES. In fact, that run of reviews is still ongoing (we haven't even finished season one yet), and should contnue well into 2021. But beginning next week, when we look at the comic book tie-in mini-series, I'm moving it to Mondays for the rest of the run, which should free up Fridays for other posts, assuming I can keep the twice-weekly schedule going.

As far as that schedule goes, my plan is to start off with a repeat of the year we just looked back on: that is to say, we'll continue DRAGON BALL SUPER and get through all volumes available to date, which should take us into February -- and then I want to look at another European series. I have a few in my digital backlog, so I just need to choose one (or maybe two). After that it will be springtime, and I think I want to get back to looking at a comic series issue-by-issue, after more than a year of not doing so. But rather than a specific run from an ongoing title, I'm thinking maybe I'll just cover the entirety of a series that only ran a couple years before being cancelled. I have a few candidates in mind, all Marvel, but I haven't settled on which to look at just yet.

After that, who can say? Though my time is more limited than ever before, I still enjoy running this blog, and I look forward to another year of whatever I wind up posting about. Thanks to everyone who reads along, and I hope you'll stick with me as we continue!