Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Comic Con Update.

Wow. It's been awhile since someone's updated this thing. Chris and I went to the L.A. Comic Con last Sunday and I came home with some loot. This is what I scored:

Uncanny X-Men #471
Uncanny X-Men #269
Uncanny X-Men #185
Uncanny X-Men #92

X-Men #164
X-Men #159
X-Men #158
X-Men #49
X-Men #43

X-Factor #92

ROM #56
ROM #49
ROM #40
ROM #16

The ROM comics were 50 cents each. I am now missing one comic to complete the series, as I won an auction on eBay about a month ago. The X-Men #92 was the highest priced comic I bought at $4 and I think I will review it at some point because it had a pretty rad cover. ::UPDATE:: Like I feared, X-Men #92 is a reprint of X-Men #44. Oh well. It still has a pretty rad cover, and looks like it's a fun story.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Codename: Stryke Force #1

I understand first issues of a comic series are awkward. You have to introduce characters, an origin, some kind of conflict...but first issues from Image Comics were really awkward, like this one. Stryke Force was a spin-off of Marc Silvestri's Cyberforce. I believe the character Stryker was leader of both teams with Stryke Force designated for more dangerous, covert missions.

Silvestri wrote this one - I think probably while drinking beer and flipping between a film noir movie and Saturday Night Live. This issue alternates between Stryker trying to sound like a badass and lame jokes. And of course, there is the general vagueness because they haven't actually plotted the comic out more than two issues. I think that's what bugs me looking at these early Image comics now - they were just trying to crank out as many series as they could and make cash money. Just throw some characters together in a situation and we'll figure out a story later.

Try not to be impressed by the cover I scanned in, as my copy is indeed autographed by Marc Silvestri and artist Brandon Peterson who...thankfully, has gotten way better. This issue starts with Stryker providing extra protection for the President at a meeting of world leaders. Stryker decides to go with the old "hat and trenchcoat disguise" because nothing makes you more discreet when you have long hair, huge muscles and four arms than a trenchcoat. Some terrorists or something crash the party, blow shit up and go after all the world leaders. Secret services agents get killed but thankfully President "Bill" is safe.

The mysterious and menacing villain is introduced with the notion that he "is a being comprised of pure evil." See, this is the vagueness because they haven't plotted. Here's the villain - we won't tell you anything about him, not even his name - all you need to know right now is he is pure evil. Wow, I didn't know they still made villains like that. Tremble now, puny human! I didn't scan this page in, but one of the villian's henchmen has to report some bad news and comments that the boss doesn't like bad news. And when he hears it, he offers the henchman a severance package - by severing his head! Bwahahahaha! Get it - "severance" package, "severing" heads! He really is pure evil.

The rest of Stryke Force is forcefully introduced in an awkward page - Tempest, Black Anvil, Bloodbow and Killrazor. Do you think Killrazor, Ripclaw and Warblade are all homies? They totally should be. They should adopt third world superhero babies and give them names like Smashknife and Bloodstab. They just have to dust off the Image Comics Pick Two Badass Words Out of a Hat and Throw Them Together for a Superhero Name Hat.

Oh, right the comic. Does it even matter anymore? The bad guy blows up an aircraft carrier, then launches some torpedoes at our heroes and there's your standard first issue cliffhanger. Will the heroes surive? Nay, the more important question is - does anyone give a crap? I'll grab my trusty Magic 8-Ball and...never mind, I'll answer for you: no. I have no clue how long this series went on but hopefully it found a plot at some point.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

X-Force #76, 1998.

The battle I never expected to see...Domino™! Vs. Shatterstar™! To tha def! Nineties comic awesomeness! A dead giveaway that this issue was produced in the Nineties book are all of the Trademarks on the cover. Marvel was really protective of their trademarks in the Nineties. To the point of obsession.

Anyways, this one starts off with Cannonball hanging out with the team. He was dating Tabitha or Boom-Boom or Boomer or Meltdown or whatever she was calling herself back then, and he had left the team to join the X-Men. So he was spending some time with his girlfriend and his peeps. Recently, Dani Moonstar had returned to the team a couple of issues before this one, so the New Mutants connection was back in full effect. Several other things had happened in the previous couple of issues, Domino was captured and operated on and it somehow effected her powers, and the team also finally broke away from Cable's leadership. At this point in time, Cable had his own book and was barely featured in the pages of X-Force, so it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that there was a break coming.

So being a team composed of young adults that have some time on their hands, they like to go out and do things that normal kids like to do, and I guess kids still like bowling. The title page features Sam concentrating right before his shot. He ended up with the dreaded 7-10 split. Ouch. He didn't pick up the spare either. Boom-Boom spoils everything by using one of her timebombs as a bowling ball and they end up having to leave because she's blown their cover as normal teenagers/twenty-somethings. On the way to the car, Cannonball starts talking about coming back to the team and everyone thinks it's a good idea. Well, almost everyone. But more on that later.

The scene then switches to an oil tanker floating off the coast of Mexico, where Domino is beating the crap of out some dude for no real reason. We then find out she's on a freelance mission. Her assignment is get next to a reclusive european crimelord, who just happens to be holding a cage-match style tournament to determine his new bodyguard. I am not making any of this up. I'm also not making up the fact that Arcade is the special guest MC/matchmaker. God I hate Arcade. I'll probably devote an entire post to my hatred of that character at some point.

Anyways, Arcade announces that Domino's next opponent is...Shatterstar! Oh, Snap! This one features Shatterstar in his purple costume with the weird neck head condom. It's a weird looking costume, just trust me on this one. Anyways, they fight and eventually, Domino kicks him in the head and wins. SO finally, that question is answered, even though I don't really remember anyone raising the question in the first place.

So at the end of the story, we get to the dramatic, shocking, twist ending. Sam walks in on Boomer in a full on makeout session with his best friend, Sunspot! Dude, that is not cool! It turns out that they been seeing each other for awhile and Sam's not too happy about it. Tabitha decides to break up with him right there. Classy move right there. What a bitch. Sam is pissed and flies off and almost flies through Bobby when he tries to get in his way. I don't blame him, Bobby would have totally deserved it.

It ends with some uncertainty about X-Force's future and with Tab and Bobby feeling like crap for screwing their best friend over (as they should feel for tearing out a dude's heart and stepping on it). This was kind of the start of a different direction for the title, as they were transformed from a strikeforce into a group of young carefree mutants on a perpetual roadtrip. I think it would get retooled a few more times and somehow stuck around for another four years before Marvel finally folded the book. R.I.P. - X-Force, you kinda, sorta earned it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Image Comics: The Road To Independence

Image Comics: The Road to Independence by George Khoury

I'm still not sure why I bought this book - got it used off Amazon which is definitely the way to go, 'cause $35 is a bit steep. Or you can ask me for it since I doubt I'll read it again. This book is basically a collection of interviews with Image people as they look back on 1992 when Image Comics blew up. That was the time I was heavily into comics so I remember all the hype and the first issues of Spawn, Shadowhawk, Youngblood, Brigade, The Maxx, Pitt, Hellshock, WildCATs, Cyberforce, etc., etc., etc.

Interviewees range from Image founders to colorists and editors. The only person who didn't give an interview is Rob Liefeld 'cause he's a dick. Okay, I don't know if that's why he didn't participate in this book but my trusty Magic 8-Ball tells me "All signs point to yes." His section is kind of an article composed from various sources. Overall, the book isn't that interesting. I was hoping to find out some good dirt and name calling but it's pretty straightforward - memories, struggles, industry reactions.

I think one of the most interesting parts is when Matt Hawkins (editor of Liefeld's line at the time, now he's at Top Cow) got a raise of $70k after being there for 9 months. That was a raise - who knows what his base salary already was. Wow, there was a lot of money to be thrown around in 1992. He also mentions that Liefeld dropped $20k to create a suit for the character of Kodiak (who?) which Hawkins had to wear at appearances. Again, wow.

So if you want to re-live a time of excess in comics, ask to borrow this book. Otherwise, save your money and buy something good, like Bone: One Volume Edition.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


So I've been reading X-Force for the last couple of weeks (I think I'm currently on issue #50) and after reading the entire New Mutants run and I've gotta say, it's one of the most scattered books I've ever read.

A little back story: Rob Liefeld took over penciling duties for The New Mutants starting with issue #86. After a few issues he was able to gain creative control and through the introduction of a few key characters (Cable, Domino, Deadpool) and then he was able to convince the decision makers at Marvel to relaunch the New Mutants title as X-Force. Under the leadership of Cable, X-Force was meant to be a more militant version of the New Mutants, and as an extent, Charles Xavier and his X-Men. They were transformed into a strike-force and would take on missions deemed to be too "dirty" or "messy" by the X-Men and the government sponsored X-Factor.

To me, it seemed like the book lacked a constant theme or storyline. Some of that could be attributed towards the amount of cross-overs that X-Force was involved in, it really felt like the in-between issues were just filler for the next monumental mutant event. There was a story arc with the MLF (Mutant Liberation Front) that kind of died out and then there was an interesting story arc involving the Externals where it's revealed that Sam (Cannonball) is immortal. Both of these stories are dropped at some point and not really resolved, only to be revisited a few months later, after the summer crossovers are done with. And at one point, in an attempt to provide more bakstory on Shatterstar, they made him face Arcade in a two-part story. God, I hate Arcade.

It seems like every time there was a slump in sales, or when they felt like the book was becoming stale, they simply changed their base of operations, or their costumes, or their names. It was kind of like they were trying to distract the readers by showing them something shiny. And I guess this was a pretty popular book, I was winding down my collecting when this explosion was going on, so I kind of missed this train. The one thing that that was also kind of annoying was that the three Liefeld characters were very similar to each other. Cable, Domino, and Shatterstar were all mysterious characters, and they all had powers that were never really explained. I had to look up what Domino's power was (probability) because I had no idea even after I was about forty-five issues into the series.

The series was heavily criticized for it's violent content and it's overuse of firearms. For an example, see the picture to the right. I mean, there's just no way Cable can use all of that ammo and all of those guns. Ridiculous. Even though I swear they never really didn't do any damage with any of their guns. It was almost as bad as the A-Team. Cable and Domino would fire away endlessly and they would either miss, or whoever they hit would be powerful enough to absorb the shots without a problem. Also, I don't think they shot bullets, they were plasma guns, which I guess are better, but to be honest, I really don't know if they are or not.

The other thing that annoys me, and Chris brought this up a couple of days ago, is the insane amount of pouches all of the character have, when they never even use them. Why does Cannonball need a belt with 29 pouches? He can fly and is invulnerable, what does he need that's in those pouches? They never once reach into a pouch and get something. I mean...c'mon.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Comic Book Ads #7 - X-Force T-Shirt.

Chris ran that post the other day about Shatterstar, so I thought I'd get some posts together about X-Force because I'm currently reading the title right now. I'll write a post with my first impressions in a few days, I"ve got a few observations, but they're probably observations that others have already brought up about the series.

But today, we have an ad for an X-Force T-Shirt that ran in X-Force #1. Basically, this was the ad that pissed Rob Liefeld off and resulted in his defection from Marvel and the co-founding of Image comics. Basically, He (and the other artists that left and co-founded Image) was upset that he wasn't receiving royalties for merchandize that Marvel was selling that featured characters the he (and others) had created. So they created their own imprints where the creators owned the characters. While this worked in the beginning, eventually they all had to hire writers and illustrators and a lot of people have argued that Image has turned into the very thing is was rebelling against. More on that later. But anyway, so here you go, a little blast from the past from the early '90s.