Archive for 1985

Bear Attack!


The Age of the Sentry #2

I didn’t think I’d keep reading this, but dangit, when your cover features a giant monster called Ursus the Ultra Bear, I am helpless to resist.

We get a couple Silver-Age-style stories here — the first, in which the diabolical Cranio (The Man with the Tri-Level Mind) unleashes Ursus on the world, and the second where Marvel’s superheroes are mysteriously avoiding the Sentry, but what terrifying secret are they hiding?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good gravy, this is cool. Plot synopses alone cannot demonstrate how cool, amazing, and hilarious this is. Carol Danvers shows up as Sentry’s girl-sidekick, the Sentress, wearing an altered version of her Ms. Marvel costume. Truman Capote antagonizes the Sentry throughout most of the comic, reveals that he has a bear phobia, and flashes back to a scene from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” There’s a character named Harrison Oogar, the Caveman of Wall Street. The Sentry’s superpowered corgi Watchdog pees on a fire hydrant and blows it up. A teaser ad for a Sentry annual includes characters like Zombin Hood, Howie Lovecraft, and X-Rex: Reptile Ranger! It even has a moment of modern-day creepiness that works out fairly well. The whole thing was much fun.


1985 #6

The final issue of this series, set on an alternate, superhero-less Earth in 1985. Marvel’s supervillains have invaded, and Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, is preparing to, well, devour the world. Luckily, Toby has made it back from the Marvel Universe with all the superheroes in tow, and they make mincemeat of the bad guys. Toby and his dad rush off to the old Wyncham Mansion, where it’s revealed that the brain-damaged Clyde Wyncham was the planet’s lone mutant, able to breach dimensions, control minds, and even raise the dead. He’s the one who brought the villains here, and he’s been controlling them from the beginning. Toby’s dad tries to talk sense to Clyde, but will his efforts come too late?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Much better than I expected it to be, along with a nice, bittersweet ending.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Sketchbook

Looks like Marvel is going to be publishing a comic version of the classic fantasy. This is a promotional giveaway showing off Skottie Young’s artwork and designs for the characters. So there’s no plot, just some nice artwork.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hey, it’s free! But the art is very nice, too. Looks like just the thing for fantasy-loving kids, and grown-up fans of the Oz books should also enjoy it.

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We Can’t Stop Here! This is Bat Country!


Batman #680

Okay, the Black Glove has invited a bunch of wealthy creeps (most wearing domino masks) to watch him destroy Batman. Batman is still wearing his hyper-garish costume and talking to Bat-Mite. Commissioner Gordon is trapped in a booby-trapped Wayne Manor and getting rescued by Damian and Talia. The Joker is being the Joker, which is bad news for everyone. Jezebel Jet is being held captive. And Bats is getting betrayed by someone he never expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s plenty of cool stuff here, some of it just amazingly cool, thrilling, wild. But a big chunk of this is about re-emphasizing what an absolutely freaky guy the Joker is. How freaky is the Joker?


The dude gave himself a forked tongue. With a straight razor. For the fun of it.

That’s freaky.


1985 #5

Toby, a little kid from our superhero-less world, has made his way to the Marvel Universe, pursued by the terrible Trapster (who promptly gets hit by a car). He can’t get the Avengers or the Fantastic Four to listen to him, but hey, he knows Spider-Man’s secret identity, so he’s able to have a nice long chat with him. Meanwhile, the psychotic villains of the Marvel Universe have invaded his world, slaughtering everyone they can. Toby’s mom and dad are trying to survive, but can anyone survive… the Coming of Galactus?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I shouldn’t be enjoying this as much as I am. Still, Toby is fun, his dad is fun, the unleashed villains are fun. I even like the vaguely cheesy contrast between the sunlit Marvel Universe and our own dim and shadowy world.

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Multiple Guess

Okay, heading back to work today, so that means it’s time to get some comics reviews done.


PS238 #33

Poor Tyler Marlocke is still in three places at once. He’s in a stasis pod in the school’s basement because he’s been infected with an alien virus; he’s running around in a cloned body, which is being operated by remote-control from within the stasis pod, because if the alien student Prospero even suspects that Tyler is still infected, he’s going to destroy the Earth; and he’s existing in a quasi-dimension in the Castle Beyond Space and Time, where he has to decide whether the cosmos will continue to let humanity have superpowers.

Meanwhile, Cecil Holmes, the alien-obsessed student with the magic overcoat, has been taken on a field trip by Kent Allard, who’s secretly the Revenant. He’s taken Cecil to see if he can figure out whether a group of corporate CEOs are aliens — Revenant suspects that Cecil has a superpower of his own, namely the ability to sense whether or not someone has superpowers. Unfortunately, the CEOs are all supervillains, and they’ve figured out who Revenant is.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s weird how great a character Cecil has become, ’cause when he was first introduced, I just couldn’t stand him. His scenes with the Revenant are just wonderful. The rest of the book is worth buying, too. Y’all get this one put on your pull-list, okay? It’s definitely worthy of a larger readership.


The Brave and the Bold #16

While Batman is out of town, Superman is keeping watch over Gotham City. Commissioner Gordon has asked him to try to track down an underworld auction, but he runs into Catwoman pulling a big heist so she can get a large enough stake to be allowed to attend the auction in question. The main item up for bid: the map to a certain hidden cave near Gotham. Of course, Supes decides he’d better attend the auction to keep the Batcave’s location safe, but of course, no plan is perfect, and things get a lot more chaotic.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great banter between Supes and Catwoman. I especially love the mild-mannered disguise Selina puts together to let Superman attend the auction incognito.


1985 #4

The supervillains of the Marvel Universe have invaded the real world and are busy slaughtering as many people and causing as much chaos as they can. Toby and his dad make a narrow escape from the Lizard, then join the evacuees trying to get out of town. Dad goes back to find Toby’s mom, who’s still hiding out in her house, and Toby decides to snoop around the old Wyncham mansion, where the invasion seems to be centered. But what can a kid do to stop a horde of supervillains? Well, he can always call for backup…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The chaos of the situation is very well-realized. I love Dad’s reactions when the Lizard threatens Toby — it’s not exactly comic-book heroic, but it is real-world realistic. Toby going dimension-hopping looks to be fun, too.

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Running Riot


1985 #3

It’s 1985 in a completely metahuman-free universe, and the dimension-hopping Marvel supervillains who’ve been hiding out in the old mansion outside of town are tired of hiding. As the police investigate last issue’s murders by Sandman and Electro, MODOK starts mind-controlling people to drown themselves in a lake, the Mole Man kidnaps a bunch of children, Ultron just starts slaughtering people, and none other than Fin Fang Foom lays seige to the town. Is there any hope for anyone? Not unless a bunch of superheroes start showing up soon…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was actually getting a bit bored with this one, but it’s gotten a heck of a lot more interesting with the bad guys running wild. And I love the way they’re not being portrayed as comic-book villains — these are complete psychos with powers that no one on Earth has any way to counter. They’re not mere villains — they’re figures of absolute terror.


Birds of Prey #120

Continuing the confrontation from last issue, Manhunter thinks she’s got the stuff to take down Black Canary… but really, it’s not even close. Once Dinah has Kate dropped off back at Oracle’s HQ in Platinum Flats, she warns Barbara to back off of her, Green Arrow, and Speedy. Meanwhile, a character I’m not real familiar with, Infinity, uses her ghostlike powers to infiltrate the Visionary’s Silicon Syndicate. She discovers a very high-tech R&D lab which includes the corpse of the midget gadgeteer Gizmo… but it turns out he’s still fairly ambulatory. Babs scrambles Huntress to get Infinity to safety, while the Visionary and his goons get introduced to a nasty new competitor…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The entire issue is pretty enjoyable, but the bad guy who gets the brief walk-on part at the end is really gonna throw a spanner into the works.

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Psychedelic Batmania


Batman #678

The Club of Villains is stalking Robin and Nightwing and has attacked Alfred, and there’s nothing Batman can do, because Bruce Wayne has been shot full of crystal meth and heroin and is wandering the streets of Gotham unable to remember who he is. His guide is a homeless man who Batman helped an issue or two ago, but who now appears to have unusual abilities of his own. And by the end, there’s the biggest, weirdest change of costumes I think I’ll ever see.

Verdict: Thumbs up, I think. I really do wish it wasn’t necessary to guess at all the obscure comic references Grant Morrison is dropping on us. (All the “Zur-En-Arrh” stuff is a reference to a Batman story from 1958 where Bats traveled to another planet.) But homeless guys who may not be there, evil mimes, Bat-Mite cameos, and wildly drugged-up stream-of-consciousness Bruce Wayne actually ends up going a long way toward making this work.


1985 #2

Toby has run into the Hulk and the Juggernaut — which is a little weird, since where he’s from, both of them are just comic book characters. Of course, no one believes there are real supervillains around, but the bad guys are tired of being cooped up in that old house, so some of them go out to stir up some mayhem.

Verdict: I’m gonna have to give it a thumbs down. The primary problem here is the art — I know I liked it last issue, but that was one or two normal people and a bunch of supervillains in costume. In this issue, we have several costumed villains, but we have a lot more normals — and it’s really hard to tell one normal person from the next. There need to be some sort of clear identifiers to tell everyone apart, even if it’s just some captions here and there…

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Ripping the Mask


Batman #677

The latest chapter of the “Batman R.I.P.” storyline is pretty freakin’ weird. Batman is obsessed with the international assassination organization called the Black Glove. The Club of Villains puts evil schemes into motion. The Gotham Gazette plans to run a story claiming that Bruce Wayne’s parents — and Alfred the butler — were degenerate drug fiends. Jezebel Jet suspects Bruce himself may be the Black Glove. Batman has been hypnotized somehow. The Club of Villains has gotten into the Batcave and plans to do some killin’.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s almost unstoppably weird and random and baroque and chaotic, and it seems to be awesome. The Club of Villains, by the way, is the best mass supervillain addition I’ve seen added to a comic book universe in years.


1985 #1

A bit of high-concept here. Our story is set in 1985 in a non-superhero universe. Toby is a normal kid with divorcing parents and a fascination with comic books. He and his dad happen across an old mansion being renovated by a bunch of out-of-towners who seem oddly familiar to Toby. So what are a bunch of Marvel comic book villains doing hanging out in an old house on the outskirts of a small town?

Verdict: Thumbs up. In places, this one is really pretty spooky. The brief glimpse we get of the Red Skull, peering down from an upstairs window at Toby, is pretty chilling. Dr. Doom is plenty scary. And the big guy who Toby runs into at the end of the issue looks really, really terrifying. I’m not sure where they’re going with this, but I hope it’s all this good.

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