Elvira House of Mystery #3

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I’ve got to admit that I’ve got a crush on Elvira. I think that Cassandra Peterson’s alter ego is funny, pretty, and very entertaining. How she dresses as the character doesn’t hurt either. Over the last couple of years I’ve come across a couple of issues of this comic (this one twice as it turns out). The first one I found was in a store in Florida that sold Pop Culture art, framed prints, statues, and other collectibles. The manager had recently purchased a small comic collection and was selling off the individual issues in a corner in the back of the store. I cannot resist a pile of comics some place that does not normally sell comics, I just feel like there has got to be something good in it.

The series was an attempt to bring back the House of Mystery title with a new host, Elvira. Elvira introduces the stories and is featured a bit more than the original host Cain. The series also features a story that Elvira is on a quest to find Cain the caretaker and the House of Mystery is helping her. I do not know the details as this is the earliest issue of the story that I have. There series ran for 11 issues and had a special. An interesting note about this issue is that it is the only one to run without the comics code approval on it. I imagine it is because of violence and semi-nudity. With that in mind let’s get to the story.

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Elvira in “Retribution” – – or “ We don’t need no stinkin’ tin badges”

Creators

Writer –  Joey Cavalieri
Artists – Stan Woch & Dick Giordano
Letters – Duncan Andrews
Colorist – Elizabeth Berube
Editor – Sal Amendola

The first story is a western, as if we couldn’t tell from the splash page. It begins with a little exposition and the House of Mystery telling Elvira that she must continue with her quest to find Cain. Elvira, cowboy hat, six guns and all is then delivered to the old west. She is being serenaded by a skeleton cowboy riding a horse and singing a ballad about Nick Dundee and Hangin’ Rock. We come across a young woman bathing in a pond and being harassed by the very same Nick Dundee who has the woman’s clothes. He says that she can have them back she just needs to come get them from him. Of course she’s naked while bathing but she’s desperate. She says that if he gives her back her clothes she won’t tell her fiance.

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Just then a man comes up behind Nick and tells him to give the lady her clothes. Nick clocks the guy and threatens to shoot him. In order to prevent her fiance from being shot our heroine agrees to come out of the water. That was all the distraction, Phil, the fiance, needed to grab Nick’s shooting arm and wrestle him into the water. The two men have a viscous fight and Phil overcomes Nick. Phil and Fay ride away and Nick plots revenge. Meanwhile our singing skeleton reminds us that he’ll see Nick at hanging rock.

The scene shifts to Phil and Fay getting married. As they exit the church they embrace and kiss. Suddenly a shot rings out, Phil’s been shot in the back. Nick has fired from a nearby hotel window and plans to make his escape before anyone figures out where the shot came from. Fay in her white wedding dress, now covered in blood, mourns her dying husband. Nick trying to make his escape is stopped by the local sheriff who gets the draw on him. A local mob surrounds the jail demanding that the sheriff release Nick to them so they can deal their mob justice. Instead the sheriff gets Nick on a train to, you guessed it, Hanging Rock, so that he can be “hanged legal an’ proper”.

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The sheriff should have turned Nick over to the mob. On the train ride to Hangin’ rock Nick overcomes the sheriff when they round a sharp turn. Nick gets the sheriff to unlock the cuffs before choking him out so that he passes out. Nick then climbs up to the locomotive where he tells the engineer to stop the train. It just so happens that the engineer is Phil’s father and he’s plenty angry with Nick Dundee. Nick shoots him and tries to stop the train himself, but cannot.

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As the trains runs out of steam it pulls into the the next station where the mob is waiting to take Nick to Hangin’ Rock. As Nick is lead to the noose he starts babbling about a vision he’s having. He sees Phil’s father watching him and he starts to lose it. As Nick hangs the ghost of Phil’s dad watches and our singing cowboy finishes his song. Elvira is returned to House of Mystery and she loses the cowboy gear while getting ready for the next story.

One Way Passage

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Creators

Writer – Robert Kanigher
Art – Jess Jodloman
Colors –  Liz Berube

Elvira witnesses a diverse group of people enter an elevator that has the sign “Ye who enter here abandon all hope”. On the elevator is the conductor and an interesting group of characters who all state that they need to be someplace else. There is a pretty blonde, a white man with glasses who has to collect his rent. There is a large black man in white military dress saying he has to get back to defend his nation. There is a another white guy with glasses that says he has to get back in order to to take more pictures of children’s portraits. There is also a white couple, an older white woman, and an Arab.

Just a quickly as everyone got on the elevator the conductor stops and lets each person off saying that they have reached their floor. As they exit they keeping talking about how they are supposed to be somewhere else but they also don’t really question what is going on. The young white couple are the last ones off. They find a fire exit but as they go through the door they discover that they are not in a building but instead it is HELL!

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They are greeted by a winged demon who explains that they are here because the explosives they were making went off prematurely and killed them along with a lot of innocent people. They are sentenced to hang upside down for eternity. Next up is the landlord trying to collect his rent. It turns out he had a heart attack, and for the crime of being a slum lord he will “live” forever naked covered in rats, in hell’s version of one of his slum tenements.

The older white woman was killed by a hit and run driver. She’s being thrown naked into a lake to drown with her victims because apparently she likes to poison people. She’s dragged under while still conscious and tied down by corpses. The child photographer apparently also strangles the kids that he’s been taking pictures of. His punishment is to be squeezed and swallowed alive by a giant snake.

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The next segment is rather controversial because the Arab is being punished for being a terrorist. He was apparently killed in his car by an Israeli rocket. The segment is very insensitive and one sided. That is followed up by the Black General, who I suspect is supposed to resemble Idi Amin, who thought he was getting more medals as he left the elevator. He is going have his naked fleshed branded by demons forever.

The last person to be dealt with is the young, pretty, white woman. The devil tells her that she committed suicide because she thought she was getting old and would be forgotten.  He goes on to say that she she will be given a second chance because beauty is in the of the beholder and that she will always be beautiful. She is then pictured in a hospital bed with a doctor telling a nurse that it was a close call but she’s coming around. The devil then addresses Elvira directly. He says that mankind tries to deal with justice but often they just make matters worse. He says true justice, retribution, and forgiveness should be left to higher powers. He warns her, while pointing at the reader, that she should never come before him.

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The last page of the comic has three men outside of the House of Mystery watching Elvira. Again I have no idea what’s going on here because I don’t know what’s happening in the story taking place across the issues.

Overall I thought this was a “wicked” fun comic. The art in each story was intense and dealt with some very adult themes. It is no wonder that this issue did not carry the seal of the CCA. The stories and the art look like they were something right out of an EC comic from the fifties. Each story also has the same style of twist at the end with a message that was very common in anthology books like this. Robert Kanigher would write several stories for this series, and while this was towards the end of career he obviously still has “it”. 

If I were a betting man I would think this comic was probably only sold in the direct market. This does not feel like something that would have been sold on the news stand, because yes, in 1986 you could still get a comic at the supermarket or stationary store. It is simply too mature a comic to be sold next to Superman and Spider-man at the A & P.

Looking at the other issues in the series on Comicvine I suspect each one has a theme to the stories inside. The other issue I have, number seven, looks like it is a sci-fi themed issue. Now that I’ve finally got around to reading this comic it has graduated from something fun to pick up if I see it, to making the list of things that I will specifically look for in my searching. I’d like to read the whole series and see what’s going on with the overall story and the search for Cain.

I close out with an ad for the Elvira Fan Club that is at the end of the issue. If my younger thirteen year old self had this comic in 1986 he might have actually sent away to join this fan club.

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Plop #14

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If you are reading this you are probably no stranger to the dollar bins at your local comic store. We’ve all spent time looking through these boxes filled with comics old and new looking for treasure. The dollar bins are great places to find some good comics that are worth reading, and depending on what you’re collecting you can fill some holes on the cheap. Often times these bins are collections that dealers have purchased and cherry picked all the high value comics from and now they are trying to move the rest.

When I’m at a shop or at a show going through the bins I can always find a couple of dollars worth of comics to make my time worth it. Now when I am searching I typically have a couple of things I am looking for specifically along with just wanting to find something fun to read. Last year I was able to put finish a complete run of Who’s Who in the DC Universe including the 84 and 85 updates. I also recently completed a set of All Star Squadron that with the exception of one or two issues I didn’t pay more than a dollar for any single issue. One thing I am ALWAYS on the lookout for are Sergio Aragones Comics.  At a recent show in Uxbridge, Massachusetts I unearthed a real gem of a Sergio Aragones comic.

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At this particular show I found an issue of Plop, the magazine of Weird Humor. I’ve only become aware of what Plop is after listening to Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill when they were discussing Mad Magazine and the the comics and magazines that it spawned. I don’t know how many issues Sergio Aragones worked on but for this issue he worked on the cover, the introduction, and several of the one page gags.  When I saw this issue in the bin I recognized Sergio’s familiar marginal work and pulled it out and added it to the pile I was planning to purchase.

The title states that Plop is “the magazine of weird humor”, but it is really more than that. It is indeed an anthology comic with short stories and gags, but there is also light horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Plop ran for twenty four issues between 1973 and 1976 with the last couple of issues being Giant-Sized comics. The first nineteen issues of the series feature a similar style cover. Sergio Aragones does marginal style drawings all around the border framing a crazy character drawn by Basil Wolverton. At the bottom of the page the bizarre character on the cover is named and has a brief odd ball bio.

The stories are introduced by DC’s familiar hosts from the House of Secrets and Mystery, none other than Cain, Abel, and Eve. The comic is book ended with the trio addressing the reader directly introducing what’s to come and then closing it out.  This particular issue features two short stories and several one page gags.

The Locked Door of Harkness House

Creators

Story –  Maxene Fabe
Art – David Manak

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Eve introduces the first story stating “This month we go topical — with tales and jokes relating to popular novel themes! There’s westerns, historicals, science fiction, medical and animal themes — plus this little Gothic Grabber”. The story begins with two spinsters sitting listening to the radio. Their program is interrupted with an important news bulletin that an inmate has escaped from the Kookville asylum for the criminally insane. One of the women asks the other what they would do if the escapee came to there house.

Later that night, someone breaks into the house by smashing the kitchen door window. The women try to call the police but the line is dead. A man, soaking wet, in a hat and coat enters the kitchen and they try to get him to leave by threatening him with a broom. Surprise though, the man is actually their long lost brother, Otto, who they thought was dead. Now we know the spinsters are sisters, Justine and Harriet. Once they realize who he is they bring him in, hang up his coat and get him some hot coffee.

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Otto explains that he has returned to claim his share of the security bonds their dear departed father left them. Harriet and Justine explain that their father didn’t leave them anything besides the old house they are in right now. As Otto goes off to bed he thinks to himself that he doesn’t believe his sisters and that their father definitely had some money. Once everyone is asleep Otto decides to take a look around but his sister’s catch him trying to get into a locked door. He demands to know what’s behind the door and if their father’s money is in there. Justine explains again that there is no money and tells Otto to go to bed.

Otto is pretty heated at this point and tells his sisters that he doesn’t like taking orders, that he had to take too many orders at the asylum. Shocked the sisters realize their brother Otto is the escaped inmate they heard about on the radio. They tell Otto that he has to leave at once but he hams it up saying he’s sick, that he can’t go back to asylum, and really plays on their sympathy. Harriet feels bad and asks Justine to let him stay, he is their brother after all. Eventually they agree to let him stay and say they will discuss their father in the morning. Grinning, Otto thinks that his plan is going great.

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In the morning Justine tells Harriet she is going out for a bit. Otto overhears this and decides to go to work on Harriet while the other sister is away. He starts going on and on about their childhood and Harriet is obviously a little worried. As she bends over to get something from the oven a key falls from around her neck. Otto grabs it violently, realizing it is the key to the locked door his sister’s won’t let him near. As he rushes upstairs to the room Justine comes home. Harriet tell her they have to hurry and stop Otto. They’re too late though.

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Otto is through the door before they can stop him when he falls into a pool of water. Otto, wet again, asks why the sisters have a room like this filled with water and why they wouldn’t let him in. As they start to tell the story of how their father sent them a gift before he died in South America, a giant alligator lungs from the depths at Otto. The sisters close and lock the door quietly telling Otto that Suzy doesn’t take well to strangers. The final panel of the story is of the closed door where we hear Otto trying to plead with Suzy before the screams and chopping starts.

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Wednesday’s child

Creators

Script – Marv Wolfman
Art – Wallace “Wally” Wood

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Abel introduces this story simply stating that is “a gem from the classics of Knighthood”. The story begins with a young man in chain mail rowing a small boat towards a castle on the coast. The sign on the hill reads “Welcome to Merrie olde England”. This first panel has a couple of funny gags in it including a submarine periscope, a buoy with a bell, a mine, and shark fin. It is almost like a picture where the reader has to find ten things wrong with the picture.

The young man is thinking to himself about how he is going to become a great knight of the round table like Sir Gawain or Lancelot. He thinks that he has completed all his assigned tasks except one, rescue a fair maiden. In his best “keep on truckin” strut he approaches an old crone who seems to read his mind about the fair maiden. She tells the young knight that there is a maiden in the Castle of Merlin, but warns him to be very careful, that death also stalks the castle. The knight to be enters the castle and is exploring it when he hears a scream. He dashes off sword in hand to save whomever is in distress.

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As he enters a dark room he cannot believe his eyes. In a portal to another dimension is the beautiful maiden he came to rescue. Horrible monsters, one with a cigar, have the young woman’s dress in their clutches. The hero goes into the portal and attacks the monsters but his sword has no effect. They simply laugh and toss him about. A second time he enters the portal attacking the monsters this time with his dagger, but it still has no impact.

As he is flicked away once again he realizes that the monsters won’t come to the other side of the portal. He decides to try and drag the beautiful princess through the portal but a voice behind him shouts that he must not touch her. A small man with a long nose and even longer beard tells him that the princess has been there for ten million years and must remain there. For she is Purity and must remain between heaven and hell. He explains that she is suffering so that others do not. The little bearded man says that the knight must leave and forget her. The young man decides to heed the dwarf’s warning and leaves the castle dejected and wondering what went wrong.

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There are a couple of more one page comics and then the closing from Cain, Abel, and Eve. All in all this was a fantastic comic. How could it not be with Sergio Aragones, Marv Wolfman, and Wally Wood? The first story was a lot of fun with a neat twist of an ending. David Manak’s art reminds me of the old Pink Panther show. The second story featured beautiful Wally Wood art and feels like it is based on one of the Arthurian legends. It does have a bit of an abrupt ending but it was still enjoyable. All this entertainment for only a buck, or a quarter if you bought this issue back in 1975, how can anyone beat that?

The comic also has some outstanding advertisements. There’s a classic DC Hero / Hostess fruit pie ad, an ad for DC comics subscriptions at three dollars a whack for 12 issues. What a bargain! There are a few DC House ads including one for the different lines of comics they were publishing at the time, the superhero books, the mystery tales and the all new fantasy adventure line that included Tor, Warlord, Claw, and Beowulf. By far the most interesting one is the one for the Wayne School that wants to help housewives finish high school.

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I cannot believe this existed. The headline reads “Are your children ashamed that you never finished school?” and pictures a young woman with her apron in the kitchen and grim look on her face. The ad goes on to say that a child can tell if his friends parents are smarter than theirs, that they might speak better or know more about a lot of things. But there is hope, you can finish high school at home. You can make your kids proud and maybe even get an interesting job, just send in the coupon to get the booklet from the Wayne school. Oh boy, I’d love to meet the person at the Wayne school who decided that putting this ad in a comic meant for adolescents was a good idea.

I think that I’ve conveyed how much I enjoyed this comic. It was a fun experience at the show finding it and it was even more fun to read it. The next time I’m digging through the dollar bins I’ll be on the hunt for the other twenty three issues.

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This Week at Comics Comics Comics week of June 9th

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Did I read the new issue of Doomsday Clock? No.
Did I read the new DC / Hanna Barbera one shots? No.
Did I read BlackMoor yet? No.
But I did read a big ol’ pile of X-men Comics

Astonishing X-men #10 – 12

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Creators

Writer – Charles Soule
Artist – Aco #10 (Pencils), Ron Garney #11, Gerardo Sandoval #12
Inks – David Lorenzo #10
Color Artist – Rachelle Rosenberg #10, Matt Milla #11, Erick Arciniega #12
Letter – VC’s Clayton Cowles

These are the last three issues of the ‘A Man Called X’ story, and they complete the second half of the Charles Xavier / Shadow King story-line. It is also the end of the arc with writer Charles Soule and this line up of X-men. I have enjoyed everything about this series except for how it ended.

After the X-men defeated the Shadow King in the first half of the run Xavier had traded places with Fantomex in the Astral Plane and had returned to the real world. Then a green “sun” appeared over London that turned out to be Proteus. Proteus takes over a small town in Scotland and the X-men, still lead by Psylocke, head off with Xavier, now just calling himself X, to try and stop him.

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The team is set upon by dragons and archers created by Proteus’s reality warping powers. They go toe to toe with him for awhile. Mystique seems to be close to getting the better of him by disguising herself as Moira McTaggert, Proteus’s mother, but he eventually sees through the ruse. Rogue, Gambit, and Bishop finally stop him together. Well at least I think that is the case. In one panel Bishop calls down a massive bolt of energy. In the next panel the Shadow King is escaping from X’s mind.

In the last issue all the X-men try to defeat the Shadow King, now in this plane of existence and not the Astral plane. There is a lot of back and forth but eventually Psylocke and X really do defeat him, turning him into a tiny spider that X casually flicks into a puddle. The story wraps up with a grand speech and the team moving on. Proteus is not mentioned again. The town he destroyed is not mentioned. All that happens is X convinces everyone that the Shadow King is gone and X is not the man they knew as Professor Charles Xavier, he’s different. In the final panel X is striking quite a power pose and proclaims he has a new dream.

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The end of this run seemingly came out of left field. After dealing with Proteus for five issues, likely defeating him, and then fighting the Shadow King again it just did not make much sense to me and was rather unsatisfying. There was no closure to the Proteus story-line and to send in the Shadow King again for the last issue was jarring. I liked how they got to there, but the caper issue was disappointing.

X-men Blue #27 – 28

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Creators

Writer – Cullen Bunn
Artist – Marcus To
Color Artist – Rain Beredo
Letter – VC’s Joe Caramagna

These issues cover the Cry Havoc story, parts 5 and 6. Issue 27 starts off with a flashback to Magneto and Polaris in their civilian duds wrapping a nice evening. Magneto asks for Polaris help with Havok. She’s obviously agreed to help because when the story cuts back to the present she and the rest of her group are being attacked by the seemingly real illusions created by Wildside. They eventually stop him and head off to stop Havok and Ms. Sinister.

Havok, the White Queen, Ms. Sinister and Bastion are still having arguments about Mothervine. Things are getting worse it seems between Emma and Ms Sinister. Polaris, Jimmy Hudson, Bloodstorm and the rest of the group are making short work of the Sentinels guarding Ms Sinister base of operations.

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Suddenly the teamed is downed by a more powerful attacker, Havok. Polaris tries to talk to Havok but he’s not hearing that and sends her off to be locked up with the other prisoners. Ms. Sinister is torturing Jimmy Hudson, the source of the Mothervine mutation. After she delivers a monologue detailing how we got to this point Emma Frost has had enough. She takes control of several of Ms Sinister’s acolytes and attacks her. Ms Sinister easily stops them but it’s too late, the White Queen used their powers to free Jimmy Hudson. He attacks Ms. Sinister like a crazy animal, like a wolverine one might say. In their cell Polaris, Daken, Xorn and the others power inhibitors stop working. As Polaris blows their cells door off they are greeted by Jimmy, Emma Frost and Bloodstorm.

Finally we get the confrontation between Emma Frost, Polaris and Havok. In his mind Polaris and the White Queen try to convince Havok that he needs to let the old Havok out, the one they both remember. Emma Frost uses her mental powers to invert Alex as she describes it and bingo bango the real, good, Havok is back, fully aware of his evil counterpart. The story ends with a nice epilogue between Emma Frost and Magneto, who has been trying to undo the effects of Mothervine in the real world.  She tells Magneto that she helped stop Sinister, Havok and Mothervine. Magneto says that she pitted him against other mutants and he cannot forgive that, that there is no peace between them.

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I thought this was a good story that at first seemed like it was going to be about Ms. Sinister and Mothervine but it morphed nicely into a story about Polaris and the White Queen rescuing Havok from his darkside. In the upcoming issues the original young team finally returns from their adventure with Venom. This has been a good, consistent series and I’m looking forward to see what happens next.

X-men Gold #25 – 29

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Creators

Writer – Marc Guggenheim
Pencillers –  Paulo Siqueira, Jose Luis #25
Artist – MIchele Bandini 26, 28 Geraldo Borges 27, 29
Inker – Cam Smith, Victor Olazaba #25
Colorist  – Arif Prianto 25 – 29 – , Java Tartagil 25, Juan Fernandez #25
Letter – VC’s Cory Petit
Flashback Artist – David Marquez
Flashback Colorist – Matthew Wilson 26 – 29

Issue 25 starts with Kitty Pryde, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Rachel (Prestige) all in jail. This doesn’t last long as Storm decides they are leaving prison after she’s locked up in solitary confinement and her claustrophobia gets to her. Meanwhile other X-men teams, including the New Mutants, are off in Paris trying to stop a giant, Scythian Algurus, from destroying everything in his path. Meggan and Captain Britain are there. So are Rogue, Iceman, and a bunch of others who I don’t know who they are right away. Also for some reason the Asgardian Weapon Stormbringer flies to aid Storm, transforming her into an Asgardian Goddess(?).

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Together they defeat the giant sending him to limbo. The issue ends with Lydia Nance and the nanite-Sentinel from all the way back to the beginning of this series plotting to capture Colossus because he carries a gene that can kill all mutants (hint, it’s the legacy virus).

The next couple of issues, ‘Til Death do us Part 1 – 4, all start with of a flashback to when Kitty and Piotr were young and falling in love. In the present day the wedding is drawing closer but as usual the X-men have other duties. First on the list is to recapture Mesmero. That’s followed up with Piotr’s bachelor party where he is captured by the nanite Sentinel.

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The next couple of issues take the team to the Savage land and finally to space as they try to rescue Colossus. With some help from Gambit, Puck, and Wendigo from Alpha Flight they succeed. These issues were good and wrap up a story that has been present through the whole series. The flashbacks at the beginning are a nice lead up to the wedding story. I really liked issue 25 and thought it was a lot of fun when Meggan and Captain Britain from Excalibur showed up to help. The series over all has been fun and enjoyable.

I’ll wrap up saying that when Blue and Gold were first kicked off the praise was that these were a return to X-men stories that felt like the popular stories from the eighties and nineties and I have to agree. While other characters creep in occasionally the stories feature characters I am very familiar with and they are written well. There has generally been some good mutant drama and plenty of action. I’m not someone who is super invested in the X-men and I don’t read into every little thing. I enjoy these comics as simply good, fun comics that are not filled with entire line crossovers or page after page of Wolverine stories.

 

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This week at comics comics comics week of June 2nd

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It is Saturday night, I’ve got Led Zeppelin on shuffle, and a pile of read comics next to me. This week I ended up reading mostly new stuff, catching up on a couple titles. I just picked up my new books today so I have not gotten to the new Doomsday clock, the DC Super Hero / Hanna Barbera one shots, or Blackwood yet. They are at the top of the pile for this coming week though. Let’s take a look at what was the best of week this week.

Daredevil #602 and #603

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Creators

Writer – Charles Soule
Artist – Mike Henderson
Color Artist – Matt Milla
Letterer – VC’s Clayton Cowles

In the aftermath of the events of #600 the Hand still plagues the city and Matt Murdock is serving as acting Mayor while Wilson Fisk lays in a hospital bed. Issue 602 starts out with Matt doing what he always does when he needs to get himself out of what he’s doing and change into the red tights, he calls Foggy. When Foggy arrives Matt immediately names him chief of staff, having fired Fisk’s toadie Wesley in the previous issue.

Of course that is closely followed by Matt clearing the room except for Foggy, so that he can explain what he needs. He’s got to go deal with the Hand as Daredevil and he needs Foggy to handle the city. This is suddenly interrupted by Blindspot crashing into through the window. The mayor’s security rushes into the room and are just as quickly dismissed. Blindspot starts to explain that he thinks everything that is happening might be his fault. He made a second deal with the Beast (the first was in Daredevil 26-28) to kill Muse. He reneged on the deal and didn’t kill Muse. Muse might still be dead, he may have killed himself, Blindspot is not sure. Then Matt picks up a police radio call saying the One Police Plaza is being overrun by ninjas.

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Matt leaves Foggy in charge and he and Blindspot head off to One Police Plaza to deal with some undead Ninjas. They have to battle their way into the building and along the way Blindspot gets hit with a throwing star. Once they are actually inside Daredevil tells Blindspot that something is wrong, everyone that was in the building are no longer there. The police and the Hand are both all gone. In the last panel we see a giant hole in every floor of the building with a black hole going into the earth.

The next issue starts off with Daredevil giving a monologue about how quiet the streets are at night since the Hand showed up while watching a woman on a motorcycle trying to get somewhere quick. The rider has a helmet with a dark visor on, but her identity is quickly revealed. A throwing star thrashes the front tire of the motorcycle. As the rider is thrown from the wreck they quickly toss of their helmet and draw two Sai. Elektra. We’ve not seen her since issue 6 and 7 of this volume. The Hand attacks and Daredevil joins the fray. After they defeat a couple of ninjas the rest suddenly take off. Daredevil explains to Elektra that he needs her help to save the city from the Hand and the Beast and after a little back and forth she agrees to stay and help. It helps that Daredevil can also tell her who was messing with her mind in those earlier issues.

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Daredevil calls Foggy to tell him is he going to put the next phase of his plan into effect and that he needs to be patched through to Rikers Island. Over a conference call acting Mayor Murdock explains to Hammerhead, Blackcat, The Owl, and Diamondback that he’s going to let them all out of jail if they agree to use their criminal organizations to help protect the city and their individual turf. They all agree to this get out of jail free plan.

Back at city hall Murdock goes over everything he’s done so far with Foggy and then gives the ol’ New Yorkers are tough pep talk. Meanwhile we finally see the Beast surrounded by his acolytes. The head lackey tells the Beast that it is time for what comes next. The Beast then starts to exhale a green gas cloud that starts to spread throughout the city. Matt is on the city hall rooftop with Foggy and Blindspot. As the gas is rising up to them Matt is the first to notice it, super sense of smell and all that, and he goes down. Foggy, Blindspot and security get the collapsed acting Mayor back into the building. As the EMTs examine Matt we get a nice bit of explanation as to why inside city hall is not impacted by the gas cloud. After 9/11 the building was environmentally sealed against a chemical attack, so everyone will be okay as long as they remain in the building.

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The issue closes out with a man in black armored suit complete with gas mask coming to city hall’s doors requesting to be let in. He claims he can help the mayor and the city and gives a demonstration dispensing the green gas cloud right in front of the doors. Foggy demands to know who the masked man in. He removes the helmet, says his name is Father Jordan and that he is Matt Murdock’s priest, see issue #15.

I enjoyed these issues and have liked this story line. I’ve liked the things Soule has done in this volume with Blindspot, Muse, and the whole Mayor Fisk story. He has certainly been walking a very fine line with writing a good political / comic adventure story and has not gone overboard with real political commentary. I hope he keeps it up, I’m really not reading Daredevil for political satire.

New Age of Heroes

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New Challengers #1
Sideways #4
The Immortal Men #2
The Terrifics #4
The Curse of Brimstone #2

Since I buy around two thirds of what DC puts out each month I feel compelled to read the new stuff they release. It is really a mix of being really interested in trying new things as well as feeling a sense of duty to put my money where my mouth is when something new is introduced. I very often think to myself that I wish DC would bring back more of their older characters or write new ones, instead of having everything be Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all the time. With this line I get both of those things, with mixed success.

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The Terrifics has been my favorite from the line. It’s got some really great classic characters put together as a quirky team, and who doesn’t love a quirky team? It’s got Jeff Lemire writing. While the first three issues had an art team of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, who did a fantastic job, with this issue we get the great Evan “Doc” Shaner. The story in this issue really had it all, a giant alien octopus, some great dialog between Metamorpho and Plastic Man, planet Bgztl, and some great T-sphere jokes.

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New Challengers was simply an introductory issue. Four strangers are teleported to and unknown location, hint it’s Challenger mountain. The “Prof” meets them after the third and fourth members of the team arrive. While our soon to be heroes have all kinds of questions they are told that they have all died, that they have been selected to join a team of adventurers called the Challengers of the Unknown, and that they are to “uncover, confront and solve the mysteries of our universe”. No biggie. The Prof further explains that while they are dead, they are also also alive existing in both states at the same time. While they are inside the mountain they will be fine. When they leave they will exist on borrowed time and that the hourglass tattoo on their forearms will track this. When time expires, so do they.

One of the new challengers, Brink, isn’t having it. The Prof opens a portal and tries to explain that his not being held against his will but if he leaves…He doesn’t get a chance to finish the sentence. Brink steps through the portal and immediately starts to dissolve. As soon as he is gone a new challengers appears through another portal. Shortly after that the reluctant team is sent on their first mission. The issue ends with things not looking good for the new heroes and the Prof monitoring the situation talking to a small flying robot(?) telling it that he thinks this team might work out.

I thought this was a good introduction and am interested to see where the story goes and if this book can survive. DC has not had a successful Challengers series since the sixties and early seventies. There have been a couple of attempts and some decent mini-series but not much else. It’s got Scott Synder and Andy Kubert on it and maybe have some big names behind it will help it last.

I’m still enjoying Sideways but the whole superhero wants to be a Youtube star thing could get old real quick. I’m going to see how the initial story wraps up and get into the second arc before making the final decision if I keep ordering this one.

Immortal Men is easily the worst of the bunch. Like the main character in the story, I have no idea what is going on. This issue we get some backstory on Timber, Ghost Fist, Stray and Reload. There is not much to say about this one other than that.

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Finally there is The Curse of Brimstone. I really enjoyed the heck out of the second issue. Our “hero” Joe wakes up after an awful nightmare where as Brimstone he dreamt that he has destroyed the small town he wants to escape from so badly. It turns out it wasn’t a dream and that as Brimstone he apparently may have done considerable damage. The town is not completely wiped out but the people who granted him his wish in the previous want him to finish the job.

This book feels more like a horror comic than a superhero comic, or even a reluctant superhero. Joe and his sister find that whatever is going in York Hills has happened other places, but none of it has ever made the major news. It feels like something out of Stephen King’s “IT” almost. Philip Tan’s art really goes well with the story. It is a little reminiscent of Jae Lee and really adds to the sinister nature of the story.

All in all I am pretty happy with the New Age books and feel good about supporting DC’s effort to do something that isn’t Batman, Superman, and Wonder woman.

Wrapping it up

I’ve got plenty of other books to write about like, the beginning of the Flash War story (awesome), the final issue of the Green Lanterns story Ghosts of the Past (good ending), Black Hammer Age of Doom #2 (Lucy Weber vs the Devil), or Gideon Falls #3 (one freaky book). These issues along with about half a dozen other comics all deserve some praise but it is late and I don’t want to freak my editor out with another really long post.

I’ll close it out with this, if you want to read about Flash #47 head over to Chris is on Infinite Earths and read his excellent recap and review. You can also check out Weird Science DC Comics for their extensive reviews of DC titles as well as other things like Black Hammer and Gideon Falls.

 

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The Tomb of Dracula #30

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“Hidden in the shadows where legend and reality merge, there are tales of being who has lived more than five hundred years, they say he is a creature born not on earth, but in the deepest bowels of Hell itself. They say he thrives upon the blood of innocents, that he his the king of darkness…the prince of evil and that even the bravest man quakes in fear at the merest mention of his name..Stan Lee presents TOMB OF DRACULA”

Last autumn at the Baltimore comic-con I attended a panel where Mark Evanier and Marv Wolfman interviewed each other. One of the questions that Mark asked was what comic was Marv most proud of, other than the Teen Titans. Marv’s answer was Tomb of Dracula. I was floored, because I didn’t know that he had worked on this title, or that he wrote it for as long as he did. I was also more than a little curious. I knew the title was one of Marvel’s seventies horror comics, but other than that I knew very little about it. As he went further into more detail about why he was so proud of the work I became more and more interested. He talked about how great Gene Colon’s art was. He talked about how much he enjoyed working with Len Wein, editor issues 30-37. I’ve been working on putting together a complete run of Marv Wolfman’s Teen Titans, and I decided at that panel that I’d also have to look into Tomb of Dracula.

Tomb of Dracula is highly collectable comic, not something found in dollar bins. Issue #10 is the first appearance of Blade. On mycomicshop.com VF issues sell for $300-500 and high graded copies go for upwards of $1200. It also ranks pretty high on top Bronze age comics lists. Of course the first issue is also pretty expensive for a casual fan. I’ve been able to pick up a few issues here and there at conventions, mostly in the five to ten dollar range. Marv Wolfman was right to be proud of the comic, it is excellent. The drama in each issue is compelling. He was also right about Gene Colan’s art. It is perfect for the story. It is incredible how well he sets the mood in each issue. His Dracula is imposing but at the same time he draws you in, just like the Lord of Vampire’s is supposed to. Tom Palmer’s inks and coloring really supports Colon and all of it put together makes for an great horror comic. Let’s examine one of the issues I picked up recently.

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Creators

Writer – Marv Wolfman
Artists –  Gene Colan and Tom Palmer
Letterer – John Costanza
Colors – Tom Palmer
Editor  – Len Wein

The issue starts with Dracula in a cemetery addressing the tombstone of Sheila Whittier. He’s sorry that Sheila is dead and that they could not be together. He never says the word love but whoever Sheila was, he sure does miss her. Once I find a couple issues before this one I’ll be happy to find out who Sheila was and why Dracula cared for her so much. As he wishes her farewell he starts to transform into a bat and flies off to Castle Dracula.

He is in a reflective mood after his visit to the cemetery and decides that instead of seeking out new victims he will spend the evening writing in his journal and laments that his diary is the only thing that comforts him. What follows are three short stories, sort of a clip show, detailing his previous suffering and pain.

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In the first episode Dracula remembers being summoned by Lyza Strang who has asked him to visit her in Germany. She tries to seduce him in order to convince him to kill her husband. She tells him that her husband, Archibald Strang, has aspirations to become Minister President of the German states and that he will declare war on Dracula’s Romania. Lyza tells Dracula that if he kills her husband, Otto Von Bismark will become minister, and that he is a peace loving man. She explains that if Bismark were in charge she and Dracula could be pretty well off.

Dracula decides, hey, why not kill him. Dracula does not need anyone invading his native land. He flies off to find Archibald. He comes across him and dispatches him quickly. As he is finishing him off, preventing him from becoming a vampire, Dracula is set upon by guards brandishing wooden spears. They are being lead by none other than Lyza. Dracula is staked, but not destroyed. Lyza tells the men to dump his body in the river. Dracula realizes he had been tricked, that Lyza was the real winner. Her husband was dead and his murderer, the only one who could tell the truth about Lyza, was floating away in the river. He also notes that not making sure he was completely “dead” was a great mistake.

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What happens next is rather shocking. Lyza had gone to Bismark as planned, but what occurs is not at all what she expected. Otto kicks her out of the house, with some seriously strong language for a comic, see the above panel. He tells her that the King had already named him Minister, there was no need to kill her husband Archibald. Otto tells Lyza that he has always loved his wife, and that he could never love her. He banishes her. As she runs through the woods she is set upon by Dracula who notes that she really had lost everything.

dracuala and girl

The next tale is even more shocking. Set in the modern era we see a young girl playing with her dolls in the yard. Her parents are inside arguing about money. The man of the house, visibly stressed, is telling his wife that they cannot afford to send their blind daughter to a special school because he has lost his job. They might not even be able to keep the house that they live in. Dracula approaches the young girl and she says that she heard him coming. She invites him to play with her and her dolls. Think Frankenstein’s monster and the little girl by the lake. Meanwhile the argument inside the house escalates when finally there is a loud BAM. Dracula rushes in to investigate only to find that the husband has shot and killed his wife. He explains it was an accident, that she would not stop slapping him, pushing him. Enraged Dracula flings the man from the house, furious about what he has done to the young girl’s mother.

As Dracula dispatches the father, the young girl questions who is screaming. Dracula explains to her that her father had killed her mother and that he had killed her father. To Dracula’s dismay the young girl shouts that she loved her daddy, that she cannot believe Dracula killed him and that she hated him. Dracula writes in his journal that he did not understand the girl’s reaction to him exacting revenge on the father and how that was the right thing to do. He also notes that he left the girl crying over her father’s corpse.

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The final journal entry is apparently Dracula’s “greatest” defeat. In China, circa 1968, Dracula is approached by none other than Blade. This is apparently their first meeting because Dracula does not know who Blade is. Blade is there to talk to Dracula about a plan he has. Blade says that he and some others believe that vampires will rule the world in a few years. He wants in on the action. Blade explains that vampires need protection during the day and that he and his friends would like to remain human and provide that protection. Blade gets Dracula to follow him on his motorcycle to go and meet Blade’s friends.

When Blade and Dracula arrive at Blade’s hideout he and Dracula go into the main entrance together. As they enter the cave a wooden stake is thrust into Dracula. Blade’s men attack Dracula. They rush him and also stab him with a knife. Thinking Dracula is dead the men leave the cave to dig a grave. As the story comes to an end Dracula explains that he waited for the men to return, and in what must have been a dramatic fight, he ended up killing two of them. He also tells us that Blade got away that night and that he eventually killed a third member of the group.

The issue ends with Dracula in one of the castle’s towers, in the rain, giving himself a pep talk. He exclaims that he is Dracula, that even after all these attempts to destroy him that he will always live, that he is LORD OF THE DAMNED!

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This was a horrific and thrilling comic. Marv Wolfman does some fantastic world building. I don’t know if the events that Dracula is remembering are events that actually appeared in previous issues or if they are just memories meant to give the reader a look into Dracula’s life. The opening speech at the grave makes me want to go back and find out who Sheila Whittier is and what happened to her. Colan and Palmer’s art is stunning. There is a real sense of dread throughout the story. It is also very cinematic and flows incredibly well. If it weren’t for the ads you’d almost forget you were reading a comic. All in all this was a great read and I look forward to finding more issues of the series at the next convention I go to.

I want to close this out with pictures of some of the ads from the issue. Along with the Charles Atlas and Learn Kung Fu ads, there are several advertisements for books that the reader could send away for to learn how to get a better job. I guess the advertisers figured that if an adult was reading this comic they must so bad off that they would surely be interested in opportunities in electronics careers or how to become a “cool” motorcycle mechanic.  

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