Thanos. One of Marvel’s most iconic characters. He worships both death and deals it out very well. His story is unique in that he is generally a villain, in the 1970′s he tried to destroy the universe many times until he was finally killed in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2(1977), but he also fought on the side of the heroes. His rebirth in the pages of the Silver Surfer in the 1990′s introduced a whole new generation of comics fans to the madness of the Titian. With his return he was given a specific task by his Mistress Death. This is the beginning of his fulfilling that task…
THE THANOS QUEST
Written by Jim Starlin
Art by Ron Lim
Book One: September 1990
Book Two: October 1990
Collection Edition: March 2000
It goes like this: Mistress Death has decided that there are more living beings in the universe than there are dead and she seeks to correct that mistake. Her tool is the one being that spent the better part of his life dealing out the gift of death: the Mad Titan, Thanos. She charges him with a monumental task: Kill of one half of all the sentient beings in the universe.
Even though his powers were augmented by Death he knows he needs more. Within in Death’s domain is The Infinity Well and Thanos knows that “within its cosmic vortex lies universal knowledge unimaginable.” While gazing into its depths he discovers the tools he needs to commit cosmic mass murder, six objects at the time known as the Soul Gems.
After he convinces Mistress Death these gems are necessary in order to carry out her task, he begins his Quest.
But instead of going after any random gem, Thanos realizes how each gem, once obtained, can aid him in gaining the next gem. After all, the gems aren’t just laying about, no, most of the gems have found their way into the possession of beings known as The Elders Of The Universe, a crafty and dishonest bunch who are more obsessed with their given life goals than anything else. The exception is the green gem which controls the soul. Formerly the property of Adam Warlock and also the very gem that was used to kill Thanos in 1977, this gem is now in the hands of a being known as The In-Betweener.
After Thanos liberates the green Soul Gem from The In-Betweener and the red gem which grants infinite power from the warrior Elder called The Champion, Thanos then decides since only one gem has anything to do with the soul, perhaps a better name for them would be Infinity Gems since each gems infinitely controls one aspect of reality.
I won’t give away much more of the story to those poor souls who haven’t given themselves the honor of reading such a classic story but I will say this: The Thanos Quest is a perfectly written story. While the main character is a villain and the main reason he’s on this Quest is to gain the power to slaughter half the sentient beings in the universe, this story shows different layers to Thanos’s character. We see that, while he’s a cold-blooded mass murdering monster, he also has a certain level of respect for certain beings and, in the case of The Gardener, would rather pick a different, less fatal way of gaining certain Gems.
We also learn Thanos isn’t a creature of mindless violence, no, this story builds on certain concepts began in the 1970′s that show Thanos a calculating being. Nearly everything he does has at least one purpose behind it. For example: He quests to gain the gems to grant his beloved Mistress Death’s wish but another reason he does it is so he would be more powerful and, perhaps, an equal to his love.
These are all facets of his character that were added without trampling on everything that had already been established before. Unlike the mess that we know as Thanos Rising, this story adds these elements without trying to make Thanos seem like a misunderstood sensitive child. He’s cold, ruthless, calculating, yet has something resembling a conscience and this all works together because of the fact that he is Thanos of Titan. It’s stories like this that show just how complex he really is. Basically, Starlin is almost the only person who can actually write Thanos correctly.
On the art side, Ron Lim shows how cosmic stories should look and pretty much set the standard. At the time this story was published he was also doing the art chores on the then ongoing Silver Surfer series. He would go on to draw the Infinity Gauntlet event miniseries which the events of this miniseries lead into.
Overall, The Thanos Quest is an expertly written masterpiece and is arguably the best example of how to showcase a villain without having to water him or her down to make them more human. It’s difficult to feel sorry for Thanos when he fails in a task or shows regret for having to murder a character like The Gardener, even knowing The Elders cannot be killed, while his end game is the murder of many, many more beings.
After recently re-reading this book I have rediscovered the excitement of this era of Marvel Comics, a time when comics didn’t have to be based in our ‘reality’ and weren’t created in hopes of being made into a movie. These stories were done for fun and for no other reason (Well, it was also to set up an event that would tie-in with many other titles in hopes of getting a sales boost). This story led into the legendary Infinity Gauntlet event in which Thanos, now in possession of all six Infinity Gems, sets out to complete his task and it’s up to a collection of Marvel’s mightiest to try to stop him.
The Thanos Quest itself is a follow-up to a story which was also collected and called Silver Surfer: The Rebirth Of Thanos and is also well worth reading. Fans of Marvel’s current run of cosmic comics like Nova and Guardians Of The Galaxy as well as fans of the events Annihilationand Annihilation: Conquest would enjoy these stories just as much because of their scope and their depth. Not to mention it’s a really great introduction to the maniac who is at the center of the current Infinity event. Truly, Marvel Classics in every sense and highly recommended!
Normally when I do these things I prefer to pick books that are older than just 5 years but this is something of an occasion. I’m sure you’ve all heard of this little thing Marvel has going called Age Of Ultron featuring Marvel’s resident psycho-bot finally succeeding in taking over Earth and making a mess of everything. Well, in light of the attention Ultron is getting I figured it would be fun to go back and take a look at another event where Ultron was the main baddie.
So, let’s get the vitals out of the way: Annihilation: Conquest ran from August 2007 through June 2008. It was told through a grand total of 23 books: a Prologue followed by a mini-series featuring Ronan, Quasar, and a new character Wraith, and Nova #4-7. It would wrap up in the 6-issue Annihilation: Conquest series. The talent involved included Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Keith Giffen, Christos Gage, Tom Raney, Kyle Hotz, and many more. It was a fairly extensive event but the way it was told allowed it to flow smoothly and not feel as overwhelming as it should have been. Honestly, it didn’t feel like a 23-book event when I was buying it. Now that that’s out of the way, what was this whole thing about…
*Considering how big this event was, I’m going to be passing over a lot of stuff but all that means is you’ll have plenty of surprises when you grab this story!*
Annihilation: Conquest is the follow-up to Annihilation, the big event that made Annihilus a serious threat to the Marvel Universe as well as pulling Nova, Quasar, Super-Skrull, and Ronan The Accuser into the spotlight in a big way. Honestly, Nova was always a character I couldn’t have cared less about if I tried but after this story I became a big fan, even sticking with the character after the event as well as picking up Essential Nova, Volume 1. But how do you follow-up an event where even the mighty Galactus fell victim to Annihilus and Drax The Destroyer finally fulfilled his purpose in killing Thanos (who later got better… again)? Well, you pick up at the end.
While Phyla-Vell, now called Quasar, and her girlfriend Moondragon were doing their part to protect the innocent, Quasar was also being contacted by a voice. Who and why would become clear later but while this was going on Peter Quill, formerly known as Starlord, was working with the Kree and their new leader Ronan to improve their defense system after it and much of the Kree Empire was destroyed by the Annihilation Wave. He does this with the aid of the Space Knights who have come to install some of their tech into the Kree Battlenet.
From here, both Quasar and Moondragon and the Kree empire are attacked. At first it isn’t clear what’s going on but soon enough the ones responsible make themselves known. The main focus of the action here is on the Kree as their Sentries begin to attack their masters. As the chaos spreads across the planet, and as Quasar and Moondragon manage to destroy the Sentry that attacked them, the Sentries on Hala, the Kree Homeworld, begin to converge in the middle of their biggest city and create a spire of sorts. This is where things begin to get bad: once the spire is complete a ‘massive energy pulse’ is released and seemingly does nothing. We soon find out it did a lot. But back on Hala the enemy takes form as the Phalanx revels in its Conquest.
That was just in the prologue issue. From there we launch into four different books:
In Quasar, Phyla continues to try to master her new role as Guardian of the Universe as well as coming to grips with the fact that her power is draining fast and that pesky voice in her head is drawing her someplace, a place the Phalanx wants to get to first because whoever the voice is… it’s either a major threat or a weapon. Quasar is also fighting a battle within herself as a darkness inside her grows. The ending of her series gives us a clue as to who and what the voice was guiding her to. Then there is the source of the voice itself,something with a very big connection to the Kree Empire! They find a cocoon of sorts, one long time Marvel fans were familiar with.
In Starlord Peter is drafted by the Kree to launch an attack against the Phalanx in order to regain their world. They know that tech is the enemy but really have to knowledge of how to fight a low tech war, but humans do and humans are expendable. They give him a team to work with, equally expendable, a team that includes the self-professed Cosmic Madonna: Mantis, the Shi’ar Deathcry, another human with the powers of Captain Universe, from the Microverse: Bug, and finally: Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Their story is more Inglorious Bastards than Guardians Of The Galaxy but make no mistake: this story sets the foundations to what would become the Guardians and is well worth the read!
In Nova #4-7 we really learn what the Phalanx did: they actually took Kree Space and ‘shifted’ it so it was no longer connected to the rest of the universe! This was so they could complete their conquest without outside interference, I imagine they were thinking the likes of the Avengers or the Silver Surfer, and fully take over the Kree and anyone else in their space before spreading their empire to the rest of the Marvel Universe. Needless to say it wasn’t easy for Nova to fight this fight. First he was very nearly killed and the Nova Force transferred itself to a Kree survivor, then after healing enough to regain the power he had to deal with the Phalanx possessed Drax and Gamora. But he didn’t come through this without taking on a lot of damage and tasting what the Phalanx offered!
Then there’s the new kid. Wraith followed the mysterious entity who would come to call himself Wraith. The Phalanx wanted him dead because there was something about him that made them feel fear. He was on his own mission and it was tied to his childhood, his father, and the symbiote-like entity that made him what he is. Along his quest he meets up with Ra-Venn who kind of reminds me of the character White Raven who appeared in Silver Surfer: Dangerous Artifacts back in 1996. She is hoping to use whatever powers Wraith has to fight the Phalanx. But things go south when they are captured and they see that Ronan has been taken by them; it’s even worse when they find the Super-Skrull and what they did to him.
All these books then converged in Annihilation: Conquest #1 where we see Blastaar getting involved as well as the long-awaited return of a Marvel Icon: Adam Warlock! Adam saves Quasar and Moondragon and then turns to the one guy he knows who can help him adjust to his new form and powers: The High Evolutionary. Meanwhile, Wraith, Ronan, and the Super-Skrull head to get some help from the only people left unaffected by the Phalanx and some of the special selects of the Phalanx have to answer to the real mind behind the Conquest as Ultron remakes his body and takes a more direct role in the event.
From here, Ultron specifically targets Warlock. We soon learn that despite the robots hatred to humans, he sees Warlock as the perfect vessel for his consciousness. Wraith and crew form an alliance of sorts with Ravenous, one of the remaining heads of the Annihilation Wave that now rules a planet in the Kree Empire, in order to gain access to a platoon of Sentries that aren’t connected to the Kree Warnet and so aren’t infected with the Phalanx. Starlord and his crew discover the Spire created at the beginning of this story hold more significance and make that their prime target.
This is where things get out of control. We get a few new players, I’ll just say there is more than one character named Warlock in this story, and the death of a longtime character. Ultron’s involvement with the Phalanx makes him a major threat, and yes, it’s explained how he meets and takes them over.
Now, I am overlooking a lot of things that happen in this story mostly because there is a lot that happens here. I’ve read this story and its predecessor numerous times and it’s always an amazing read. It’s mostly because I like how the story was presented, by using separate miniseries to introduce the different characters, you were able to get a full feel for the size and scope of the event without it feeling rushed or getting overwhelmed by it. The same format was used for the original Annihilation and that’s also a great re-read.
Also, if you’re looking forward to the new Guardians Of The Galaxy (out next week) or the upcoming movie of the same title, this is the story that lays the groundwork for what would become the Guardians. And you shouldn’t worry about the number of books that makes up the story, you can get the collected edition in two easy to handle trades available at finer comic shops and on Amazon.
I do recommend it!
It’s February and you all know what that means: Valentine’s Day… and, of course Valentine’s Day means zombies! Yeah, I know, there’s a bit of a stretch but this year is different with the release of the movie Warm Bodies which, honestly, I’m a little concerned with. That last thing I want is my beloved zombie genre to be infected with the hated Twilight virus which make monsters into objects of romance. But the horror of turning monsters into lovable creatures is a topic for another day. Today we take a look at REAL zombies. Not the kind whose heart begins to beat again because they saw some girl, no, these are the kind of zombies who prefer the beating heart to be in their hand… after they’ve ripped it out of the girl’s chest.
Today I dig deep into my collection for a zombie miniseries from the fine folks at IDW. You see, way back in 2006 they began to publish comics about zombies and this is the very first one:
ZOMBIES! FEAST began in May of 2006 and concluded its 5-issue run in October of 2006. It was written by Shane McCarthy with interior art by Chris Bolton (issues 1, 2, and 4) and Enrigue Lopez Lorenzana (issues 3 and 5) and had some amazing Chris Bolton & Ted McKeever covers which were all wraparound and when placed end to end created one long zombie picture.
The story doesn’t really tell much about how the zombie thing started or how wide-spread it is, which is fine because that never really matters to me, it focuses on a bus full of criminals being transferred. Of course, they are supposed to be the worst of the worst. While on their way someone wanders into the road and to avoid hitting this person the bus wrecks and kills the driver.
From here the group tries to find its way to a town or, at the very least a phone, to find help and a way to get the criminals to a place where they can’t hurt anyone. Their journey takes them to a farmhouse that has seen better days. It’s here that we begin to realize that something is wrong and to go along with that we lose a few people, including the officer in charge of this operation.
Things begin to pick up when the rag-tag group locates a small town and sees that it’s over-run with zombies. While running through the town they meet up with a small group of survivors and some of the criminals revert back to type while others see this as their chance at redemption. This was the one thing that stood out aver all these years: the characterization. While some of the characters are less than developed, there are many who are and you can see their evolution in this end-of-the-world situation. There are some of these criminals that, when they die, you actually feel bad for because they were really trying to be better people in the end. As the story progresses, however, the question really becomes ‘who is going to survive this?’ and the last issue naturally answers that question in a classic horror comic way. And by classic horror comic I mean EC comics of course. While many will see the ending long before we get there, it’s still a kick in the head. Beyond that, I really can’t say too much about the story, it really isn’t a new concept, humans trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, but any fan of the genre will tell you while the basics are the same, it’s how the individual characters react that make things interesting. I’ve also long wondered if this story, and the ones that followed, take place in IDW’s Zombies Vs. Robots reality. Certainly the argument could be made…
On the art side, well, the art is a lot more shaky. Bolten’s art is a lot more solid and fits the tone of the book far better than Lorenzana’s but honestly I think that’s more due to him coming in part way instead of doing art on the full story. Had he done the whole thing it wouldn’t have made such an impact. But the interior art is outshined by the covers, Those gorgeous zombie covers. They connect and become one long picture, sort of like the zombies that grace the lower portions of the covers of trades for The Walking Dead. Even after all these years, the covers for this story are still some of my all time covers for independent zombie comics.
I think it’s also interesting how these days when a new zombie comic is announced people who write about such things are always quick to call the zombie comic genre ‘tired’ or ‘long since dead’ but they obviously aren’t paying attention because while we do have a lot of bad zombie comics, there are many more good to great zombie books out there. This one came out in 2006- almost 7 years ago. This shows me that, if done right, zombie comics can go for a very long time. Naturally, I’m a little biased in this thinking because I love the zombie concept and support the good stuff all I can while ignoring the crap (like the upcoming World War Zmovie) But if you are interested in checking out some older zombie stuff, and willing to forgive some aging in the writing and art, then I could honestly suggest Zombies! Feast. There was a follow-up called Eclipse Of The Dead which ran for four issues but a third story,Hunters, abruptly ended before being competed (to the best of my knowledge, that is) butEclipse is a worthy follow-up to this one, as I remember it, and may end up in a future It Came From The Longbox!
New year, new It Came From The Longbox column! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but I’ve missed it and was only waiting for the right time to do another one. Well, the right time seems to be now so let’s dust off the intro and get to it:
Deep within my collection there are books long forgotten, either by chance or by choice. It Came From The Longbox is where some of these books will find a new life, if only for a single review…
Over in IDW, they seem to be having trouble with some pesky Martians who have made their way into the various realities that make up the IDW Universe. From Popeye and KISS to The Real GhostBustersand The Transformers, many realities are being attacks by Mars and it’s exciting and messy. Even IDW’s own Zombies Vs. Robots is under siege.
So that got me to thinking about other alien invasion comics and what one could be the focus of the first Longbox review of 2013 and only one seem to come to mind: Invasion!
Published in 1988 (25 years ago!), this book was told in three issues. Each book featured 80-pages, like the Giant-Size books DC did back in the day, and also featured only story, no ads. The plot was by Kieth Giffen with a script by Bill Mantlo. Art was done by some pretty big names: Todd McFarlane worked on the first two issues, Bart Sears worked on all three including doing the covers, and Giffen himself worked on the layouts. Inking was done by such talents as P. Craig Russell, Dick Diordano, Joe Rubinstein, Tom Christopher, and Al Gordon. It also crossed over into some 30 DC Universe titles. It was a massive undertaking considering it was only 3 issues!
The Invasion was the idea of a group of aliens called the Dominators. They formed a coalition of some of the universe’s most powerful alien races, including the Khund and the Thanagarians, to invade the Earth in order to stop the spread of ‘meta humans’ or super heroes. During their invasion, they abduct different humans and perform tests and experiments on them in order to figure out what triggers the ‘meta gene’ that turns humans into super humans.
However, as the invasion progresses and heroes defend the Earth from various places around the globe, it becomes obvious that destroying the Earth wasn’t in the plans of the Dominators at all. Their real plans are to control the superhumans, most likely in an effort to dominate the whole universe.
From there the story progress to the inevitable defeat of the invasion and the retaliation of one Dominator who detonates a ‘gene bomb’ that remove the powers of some of the super heroes, and villains, and slowly begins to kill many of them. This leads to a reverse invasion as some of Earth’s heroes led by Superman (who didn’t want to return to Earth after the gene bomb was set off, fearing that if he lost his powers then all hope would be lost as well), on the Dominator homeworld to find a cure for Earth.
So, in the end, this turns into a rather massive one-and-done story that kind of holds up after fairly well after 25 years. The only real problem for it is the constant rebooting and ret-conning of the DC Universe. It would seem the recent New 52 reboot has all but negated this entire story. That doesn’t make it any less entertaining but I imagine it would be far more entertaining for those who have a true love for the DCU. For someone like me it was an alright read. I’ve owned this book for over a decade and this was really the first time I read it all in its entirety
If you’re reading and enjoying the current Mars Attacks IDWstory but would like to have an alien invasion that impacts popular superheroes, then this is the story you should check out. Just keep in mind that it’s 25 years old and a LOT has changed in the DC Universe since then, and not always for the best. Entertaining and interesting, an invasion event long time DC fans should love!
Deep within my collection there are books long forgotten, either by chance or by choice. It Came From The Longbox is where some of these books will find a new life, if only for a single review…
Normally when I do these reviews I prefer to do them with books five years old or older but this is a special exception. Last week the reboot movie, Amazing Spider-Man, started and featured the classic Spidey villain the Lizard. that got me to thinking about Lizard stories through the past and I realized…there really aren’t a lot of Lizard stories that stand out. Then I remember one that ran recently and thought that even though it’s still fairly new that it’s a good time to give it a good look.
“Shed” was part of an overall story line called The Gauntlet which featured the long awaited return of the classic Spider-Man villains who were making their first appearance in the Brand New Day era. Many got new looks and adjustments to their powers and motives and The Lizard was no exception.
He’s no longer a man trying to cure his lizard half. In “Shed” we get something of a role reversal. While Connors is trying to keep the Lizard under control and suppressed, The Lizard is trying to escape his mind. He slowly works his way though the thoughts of Dr. Connors and during a Lizard-induced confrontation with his boss, Connors transforms into an all-new, very deadly Lizard and the killing spree begins.
Things go from bad to worse once Spider-Man gets involved and realizes the Lizard may try to harm Dr. Connors young son, Billy. In his mind Connors is still fighting for control and sees the arrival of Spider-Man as the best possible thing to happen at this time but not even Spider-Man can stop the monster as they fight in front of Billy’s house. During the fight, Spider-Man sees all of the blood inside the home. Thinking The Lizard has already been there he tries to get through to Connors again in hopes of getting time to help the injured family inside. The Lizard leaves and Spider-Man thinks he gotten through to him but he couldn’t be more wrong. Before the Lizard and Spider-Man arrived, Billy was taken by Ana, the daughter of Kraven The Hunter (remember, this was all part of The Gauntlet. The overall story was the return of the Hunter and the family’s revenge on Spider-Man. It was very odd and, honestly, not one of my favorite recent Spider-Man plots.)
Towards the end of Amazing Spider-Man #631 we get what is possibly one of the most gruesome moments in the title’s history. Thanks to Kraven’s daughter The Lizard tracks down young Billy in an alley. The boy doesn’t fight and isn’t surprised that he’s in this situation because, as he says, he always knew it would come down to this and the Lizard would kill him.
And that’s exactly what The Lizard does. Partially based on instinct but mostly to destroy the human part of his mind, The Lizard kills and eats part of young Billy Connors. The sequence is very well done, including the ‘death’ of Curt Connors who all but gives up trying to regain control over the beast. You really feel for the guy.
Then the biggest change for The Lizard begins. After killing Billy he seemingly dies, Spider-Man thinks he’s dead but soon realizes that he’s shedding his skin and out comes a much smarter, and much more dangerous Lizard. But it gets worse than that. Before, in the old days, The Lizard could control other small lizards. Now? Now he can tap into the lizard part of the human brain and control that. His first victim is Spider-Man who barely escapes and, after his mind clears, begins to form a plan that he hopes will stop The Lizard and save Curt Connors.
Meanwhile, The Lizard stalks the streets of New York City, almost totally free of Connors influence, and begins to awaken the lizards within the people of the city. Chaos is what follows.
As we race toward the end of the story, Spider-Man figures that if Connors was able to use a serum to contain the Lizard then maybe that same serum can help Connors control it and maybe even become human again. First, though, he drinks some of it to protect his brain from The Lizard’s influence.
As the city tears itself apart, Spider-Man faces off against The Lizard with everything he thinks might help, including a picture of Billy. Their fight is nasty and gets worse after Spidey gives The Lizard some of the serum and puts the picture of Billy up for him to see. As The Lizard loses it he has his mind-controlled humans attack Spider-Man and they certainly do a number on the guy!
The Lizard then begins to realize that he’s not as cold as he claims. He has certain feelings that can only be Connors human emotions inside him, preventing him from killing Spider-Man and making him feel shame for what he did to Billy. He also, for the first time, sees the world around him. Not just the dark parts but everything and realizes he doesn’t belong in this world.
In the end, much of New York is freed from The Lizard’s influence but some aren’t so willing to return to the ‘monkey’ part of their brains and they join The Lizard in the sewers as pets… for now.
As I said, it isn’t easy to find a Lizard story. I really don’t think there are that many and there are even fewer that are memorable. This is certainly one of the few that are and it has just as much impact and emotional punch as the other stories that made up The Gauntlet arch. It’s been collected inAmazing Spider-Man: The Gauntlet, Volume 5 and while it’s part of a larger story it can easily be read on it’s own and be fully enjoyed. I do recommend it.
The art on this story is something that simply needs to be seen. The Lizard’s new look is amazing and finally makes him something more than just another ‘lizard man’ and has made The Lizard a contender in Spider-Man’s gallery of rogues.
Then we have the covers. Nothing can be said about them other than…wow. These covers are amazing, my personal favorite being #630 which shows the emotionless lizard eye of The Lizard with the remains of Spider-Man’s costume hanging from his mouth. That is something the artists on this book did very well: Lizards don’t show emotion in their face and eyes and The Lizard doesn’t do either in this story either. It’s fantastic.
I’ve read this story a few times and it always entertains me. I’m just happy to be able to share it with more people now, especially since The Lizard is being introduced to the masses by way of the Amazing Spider-Man movie. If you saw the movie and want to read about the original 616 version of The Lizard then I would recommend this story as well as the equally dark Torment story from Spider-Man.
Deep within my collection there are books long forgotten, either by chance or by choice. It Came From The Longbox is where some of these books will find a new life, if only for a single review…
With recent rumors about a possible Lobo movie starting that bastich ‘The Rock’ as Lobo, and the less than impressive introduction of The Main Man into DC’s New 52 by Rob Liefeld, I thought it was time to re-read and review one of Lobo’s all-time best fraggin’ stories:The Last Czarnian.
The plot was by co-creator Keith Giffen with dialogue by Alan Grant and art by the great Simon Bisley. It was originally published as a four-part miniseries that ran from November 1990 thru February 1991 and is considered the book that made the Main Man. Before this Lobo was basically made to be a one-shot pony, a parody of characters like Wolverine and The Punisher. In many ways he still was in this story, but it was here that the character really took off taking that parody concept and turning the volume up to 12.
The story centers on two things: Lobo wanting to get revenge on someone who wrote a book about him and Vril Dox, the head of L.E.G.I.O.N. hiring Lobo to transport a prisoner to him safe and alive. While the transport normally wouldn’t be more than a boring job for Lobo, it turns out the prisoner in question is not only the person who wrote the book on Lobo but was also his fourth grade teacher, Miss Tribb.
This is just the beginning of his trouble, and he doesn’t even know it yet. Unknown to the Main Man, who is already frustrated for having to deal with this woman he long thought dead at his hands, he also has the following groups on his tail:
The Legion Of Decency, a group of old women who want to kill Tribb for writing such a nasty book; a group of truckers, after an altercation at a truck stop;
the Dnedia Police S.W.A.T. Team after Lobo killed their chief; and the Pan-Galactic Demolition Dance Company after having to get Tribb from their show and slaughtering many of their dance troop (effectively upstaging them).
The only people on his side is the gang calling themselves the Sons of Lobo, not that he cares or even knows.
While each of the groups have their reasons for wanting Lobo and Tribb dead, he eventually falls into the hands of The Orthography Commandos who seek to remove the ignorant and functionally illiterate from the universe. Their way of sorting out these unwanteds? A spelling bee. Lobo is smarter than he lets on, especially when he’s given words to spell that he likes. Genocide, for example. Things go his way until he makes the mistake of telling these people that Tribb is a teacher. Eventually, Lobo loses his patience with these people and does what he does to continue on his way.
Unfortunately, after this situation is sorted out, with violence and explosions, he contacts Dox and tells him he’s taking a bit of R & R on the vacation planet of Revel-7. He does this over an unsecured line and it draws everyone to him like flies.
I’ve read this book many times. It never fails to entertain me. This is Lobo in his purest form: unrestrained and totally free to do whatever he wants. The mayhem and violence in this book would become the trademark for this character for decades to come and would lead to many more miniseries, one-shots and even an ongoing series that would last for an impressive 64 issues! With well over 100 comics featuring him, and hundreds of appearances in other comics, Lobo has shown he has lasting power. In an industry that thrives on the spandex and capes, the morals and goodness of Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America, Batman and others, Lobo fits in as the perfect antidote to that goodness with his language, womanizing, smoking, fighting and other excesses. This story, currently collected in Lobo: Portrait of a Bastich which also includes the follow-up miniseries Lobo’s Back (which most likely will be featured here in the future) is being re-released by DC Comics and is now available for pre-order, is a perfect introduction to the character as it sets the tone for the character and shows readers what sort of unapologetic guy he is.
If you’re looking for some over the top violence and fun with a character that has never wanted to be a ‘good guy’ and has little tolerance and patience for, well, anyone, then this is the book you need to read. I can’t believe it was first published over 20 years ago because it really does hold up very well today. Before reading the Rob Liefeld revival in his Deathstroke series, I would highly suggest you read this book and see why Lobo should be treated with more respect by DC*.
Something else worth mentioning, and adding to the entertainment value of this story, is the first issue of The Last Czarnian has some highly entertaining history of Lobo including L.E.G.I.O.N. evaluations and report cards from before he killed everyone on his planet.
It’s the perfect fraggin’ package for Lobo fans and the best way to introduce new readers to this one-of-a-kind character!
*Again, my opinion, I’m not a fan of Liefeld’s writing and art and until this point I was kind of excited about Lobo’s introduction to the New 52.
With the current Ends Of The Earth story going through Amazing Spider-Man, I figured it would be fun to check out an earlier story featuring The Sinister Six, or at least one version of the group. I tried to remember what I had in my collection then I remembered a really fun story that ran through Spider-Man #18-23 (Jan.-June 1992).
Written and drawn by Erik Larson, who would go on to create The Savage Dragon through Image, this was originally supposed to be a five-part story but Larson would lose his house and belongings due to the massive fire in October 1991 that took place in Oakland, CA. To make up for the loss, Marvel split the second chapter into two parts giving Larson the time he needed to redraw the pages lost in the fire. In the end,Revenge Of The Sinister Six became a six-part story and one over the top spectacular the all but personified the 90′s in the Marvel Universe!
Before we get to the story, just for fun let’s look at the characters involved in this story:Ghost Rider (Dan Ketch), The Hulk, Deathlok, Nova, Solo (who?), Sleepwalker, and the Fantastic Four all face off against the Sinister Six: Doctor Octopus, Hobgoblin, Electro, Vulture, Mysterio, and The Sandman.
This story has a lot going on in it so I’m just going to talk about the main part: The Sinister Six. Doctor Octopus hasn’t made himself very well liked among the other members of the group. He even went as far as threatening the people who helped The Sandman. This would make Ock a target for Sandman after a bomb goes off in the home of his friends, killing them. He later makes arrangements with Spider-Man to help stop Ock. So right from the start we have Ock reforming the Sinister Six with people who he’s betrayed many times and who would see him dead; yet they are willing to work with him in hopes of being able to get close enough to do him in.
Those plans are destroyed when they are introduced to his new adamantium arms as well as his cold blooded way of dealing with betrayal: He turns Sandman into glass and is poised to shatter him when Spider-Man, who was following Sandman, decides to join the fight! It’s Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six when things get out of control due to the arrival of The Hulk! Doc Ock decides to show his men the true power of his new arms by taking on BOTH Spider-Man and the Hulk… and beating them soundly!
Never one to let a defeat bring him down (right?) Spider-Man begins to up his arsenal with a Web Cannon in hopes that his next run-in with the Six goes much smoother! After a conversation with Solo, he’s off to fight them again, only to end up on the business end of Solo’s guns thanks to Mysterio’s illusions!
In part three, the half way point, Eric Larson shows how much he likes words. There is a LOT of reading in this part. There is also the first, and only appearance, of Cyborg Spider-Man! It was the 90′s; metal limbs with lines and shine were all the rage. This lead to, naturally, a team-up with Deathlok and the horrific discovery that the Six were working toward getting weaponry from another dimension in hopes of ruling this one!
The fact that they now have new weapons in tow means the Six begin to, again, think about offing the good Doctor. To show them he means business, he demonstrates his willingness to kill on the still-glass Sandman and shatters him!
Once again in full control, Ock launches his attack on a Hydra base in order to gain control over satellites with which he could cause massive harm to the world (perhaps where he got the idea for his Ends Of The Earth scheme?) but, while he’s attacking, an all-new Fantastic Four shows up: Spider-Man, Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Sleepwalker! What we have next is a pier six brawl on steroids that’s abruptly ended when Sandman’s replacement puts his foot down: GOG! A massive beast from parts unknown!
As big as things are, they get even bigger when the Original Fantastic Four, Nova and Solo (again) all show up to help contain this rather out of control battle! The Six stand by while the heroes quickly turn on each other while under the influence of Mysterio, who makes them think they are fighting the Six but are actually fighting each other. I love that guy!
It’s big action and bigger sound effects on a scale that is almost too much for one comic book to contain when things come to an abrupt halt thanks to Sandman (Glassman?) who manages to pull himself together enough to attack Doctor Octopus, nearly ripping him to shreds and ending the conflict. With the Doctor defeated the other members of the Six, minus Gog, all make their escape and the heroes are allowed a moment’s peace. All except Spider-Man who has one more surprise coming at the very end of Spider-Man #23!
Okay, let me catch my breath…
This was a very entertaining story and almost a time capsule of what comics were like during the transition period between the 80′s and the ‘Image Era’ of the 90′s. This was a story that certainly had the ‘big event’ feel to it much like Dan Slott’s current Ends Of The Earth story.
Eric Larson’s artwork is almost off the scale here, how he was able to keep the pace up and capture all this action the way he did is fantastic and certainly makes this story one work seeking out.
The writing gets a bit drawn out, however, with some pages being more text than art, but I suppose that is the compromise you make when you are trying to tell a story on this scale in a limited number of issues. It really doesn’t hurt the story, however, because I had a hard time putting these books down when I started re-reading them. Though, that could be out of pure 90′s nostalgia.
Regardless, this is a story I can recommend to fans of Spider-Man, if you’re enjoying Ends Of The Earth then check this out, it’s kind of a lighter version of that.
This Sunday is WrestleMania XXVIII, the WWE’s answer to the Super Bowl and the Oscar Awards, so I figured it would be a good time to take a look back at one of the comics involving wrestlers and to a WrestleMania Edition of It Came From The Longbox!
Back in the 1990′s the-then World Wrestling Federation (WWF) teamed with Chaos! Comics, home to Lady Death and Evil Ernie, to put out a series of comics featuring the top wrestling talents the WWF had at the time. So, since this is the WWE‘s time of the year, let’s take a look at some of the books offered during the 90′s…
First up was The Undertaker. This was a given, for the most part, considering the type of books Chaos! was known for. In the WWE, the Undertaker is a legend. While others like to toss the word ‘icon’ around, it’s been used to much it no longer has meaning. For The Undertaker the term ‘legend’ seems to fit mostly because it still has meaning. First introduced during the1990 Survivor Series as the mystery partner of theMillion Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, The Undertaker was fast to establish himself as a future legend. His first year in the Federation he was undefeated and his first title shot was against Hulk Hogan in the 1991 Survivor Series in the match dubbed the Gravest Challenge. He won the title that night, but would lose it days later when Hogan would use underhanded tactics to regain the title during the Tuesday In Texas pay per view.
From then on, The Undertaker would go to create one of the most impressive legacies in the history of the WWE and in the world or professional wrestling in general: his perfect record at WrestleMania. Beginning with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka at WrestleMania VII he would rack up 19 victories over 17 opponents (He faced Kane, Triple H and Shawn Michaels on more than one occasion and faced two opponents, Big Show and Albert, at WrestleMania XIX) and this year he will make it 20-0 when he Faces Triple H again, this time in Hell In A Cell!
With his persona as The Dead Man and all the supernatural aspects given to the character, from the entrance to the high threshold for pain, it would seem the concept of The Undertaker would translate perfectly into a comic book.
Written by Beau Smith with art by Manny Clark, the series began with a preview issue in February 1999 followed by a #0 and #1/2 issues from Wizard Magazine before the first issue came out in April 1999 and would take the Undertaker out of the wrestling ring and given him a bigger back story. Sadly, it became a total train wreck as the series progressed. The Undertaker was given the role of ruler over Stygian, Hell’s Prison, the place where the absolute worst of all souls went. On top of this was the introduction of the three Books of Death which held the prophecy that The Undertaker was bound for greater power and glory.
The Books are the main focus of the story as the mysterious Embalmer, a druid master of black magic, and the grossly rotund Paul Bearer both make plays for the books in order to use their power to reshape the universe in their images.
From there we get something of a confusing back story for the Undertaker that builds on the wrestling story line that a young Undertaker burned down the family funeral home and that of Paul Bearer taking the Undertaker’s younger brother, Kane, and raising him as his own but the addition of Embalmer, and later Jezebelle as Kane’s half-sister, makes this a mess.
The series ran for 10 issues and featured two covers, one art and the other photo, and a special WrestleMania XV premium cover that you could get for mailing in your cable bill proving you ordered the event. Yes, I did that and it’s in my collection to this day.
While the story was forgetful and, honestly, not very easy to read, it was still an interesting concept. Taking the character of The Undertaker and creating a world around him. But, 90′s comics being what they were, it tried to run before it could crawl and ended up tripping over its own shoelaces and face planted itself on the sidewalk. The covers were nice, however, along with a lot of the interior art but, again, it was very 90′s.
Back in 1992 (wait….that’s 20 YEARS?! I bought this when it was new!) the Silver Surfer was well into his longest running series to date. As the series neared its 75th issue it was clear there needed to be a story worthy of such a milestone.
The Herald Ordeal started in Silver Surfer #70 (Late Aug. 1992) and ended in #75 (Dec. 1992). It was written by Ron Marz with art by M.C. Wyman (#70-72) and Ron Lim (#73-75) and featured covers by Lim.
Back in 1975, in Fantastic Four #164, Frankie Raye was introduced. She would go to join the Fantastic Four after her powers, which were very similar to the Human Torch’s, were brought to light. Fast forward to 1982′s Fantastic Four #244 and Frankie takes the next step in her evolution and becomes Herald to Galactus and leaves Earth.
As Nova, she would serve Galactus faithfully through many ordeals including his battle against the Elders Of The Universe and the In-Betweener as well as during both theInfinity Gauntlet and the Infinity War but trouble was bubbling under the surface.
In Silver Surfer #68, after a conversation with the Surfer, Nova had begun to doubt her role in the universe as Herald. Her human side was beginning to show and the weight of the countless lives she had a hand in ending was beginning to take it toll. This all would come to a head when, upon returning from a search for a planet for Galactus to feed upon, she would tell the Devourer that no such planet existed in the sector they were in. Unfortunately for her, Galactus was observing her and knew she was lying.
To solidify his disappointment in her, he locks her in a cell of sorts and takes her to a planet to fully show her that his needs are above everything and everyone else. The planet is home to Morg, a court executioner, who stands opposed to Galactus and impresses him with his lack of fear and morals, perhaps making him very useful to the World Eater.
After destroying Morg’s homeworld, Galactus dismisses Nova telling her to leave and never come back. He intends to replace her with Morg despite her objections to such a bloodthirsty monster having the Power Cosmic. Nova then leaves for parts unknown and Morg is made into a Herald just as the Silver Surfer shows up looking for Nova…
What follows is one of the few real beatings the Silver Surfer has ever received. Part of making Morg Herald was making him the Surfer’s equal, power-wise.
Galactus explains to the Surfer that Nova is gone and he no longer has an interest in her whereabouts. He replaced her with Morg who has none of the failings of his previous Heralds. The Surfer tries to protest but is first told that the ship of Galactus is now cloaked to his cosmic senses then is beaten to unconsciousness by Morg.
After regaining consciousness, the Surfer begins his quest to locate his fellow former Heralds in hopes that, united, they can either convince Galactus to take back the Power Cosmic or stop Morg once and for all. His first stop is helping Firelord and explaining to him the situation as Galactus and Morg arrive on a planet that may make things worse…
At the halfway mark of the story, The Silver Surfer and Firelord have joined forces and are now searching for Nova who hasn’t been seen since Galactus dismissed her. Their search takes them to Calculex, a sleazy planet full of adult entertainment and lowlife.
They finally locate Nova in an adult dancing establishment! It seems after losing her position as Herald, her mind shut down and somehow she found her way to this lowly spot. Firelord and the Surfer take her from the place and try to figure out a way to get her mind back on track. A solution comes to them in the most interesting of ways as while they searched the city for Nova, the Surfer had some issues with a guy wanting to make a name for himself by taking out the Silver Surfer. It’s an old-fashioned showdown that the Surfer doesn’t seem to be winning!
Meanwhile, Morg is exploring a planet before Galactus destroys it and learns of an ancient pool which has healing abilities. After forcing all the information about the pool’s history out of a priest he sees this as a chance to make himself even more powerful and submerges himself in the pool…
Part Four has Ron Lim returning as penciler of the series and starts with the Surfer lying on his back after losing a shoot out with a man out to make a name for himself. While Firelord doesn’t seem to concerned over the Surfer’s defeat, Nova gets snapped back to reality and panics. It’s all for naught, though, as the Surfer allowed himself to lose in order to get the guy to back off. That it brought Nova back was a bonus.
Now the problem they face is locating Galactus’ Worldship… Firelord has the solution but it may be difficult, the only person he knows who can locate the ship has been dead for a while, since Thor #305 (March 1981): Air-Walker!
While Firelord repairs Air-Walker, Nova and the Surfer have a talk. Nova is concerned now, for the first time in a long time she doesn’t have a purpose and isn’t sure what she should do with the rest of her life. The Surfer suggests they travel together once this ordeal is over.
Using their own Power Cosmic to recharge Air-Walker’s cells the robot awakens and things go out of control fast. It seems Air-Walker is still in the last moments of his previous life and is stuck in attack mode. To add to this complication is the fact that the Heralds weakened themselves in order to recharge Air-Walker’s batteries!
While the Heralds try to figure a way to get Air-Walker on their side, Morg emerges from the pool with more power than he’s ever had. His cosmic power is now combined with mystic powers giving him power to destroy a planet if he wants. Galactus seems unhappy at this augmentation but allows it as long as Morg obeys him without question.
The Heralds finally get Air-Walker on their side and he is still able to locate Galactus but before they go to the confrontation, the Surfer suggests one more stop, there is one whose power will be very useful in the coming conflict…thing is, it’s a man the Surfer abandoned on a planet a year ago: Terrax!
Silver Surfer #74 is entirely devoted to the Heralds trying to convince Terrax to join them. Naturally, having no love for the Surfer and the others, it’s difficult to get Terrax to listen but when he finally does they come to an agreement: If Terrax joins them and fights at their side as an ally, then once Morg is defeated the Surfer will allow him to go his own way without question.
The near issue long battle between Terrax and the Heralds is highly entertaining. Terrax is seen as a villain of sorts but he’s also a man who, in his mind, has been wronged by the Surfer and wants some form of revenge.
This was probably one of the first times Terrax was fully fleshed out as a character. He isn’t really evil, he’s just a jerk.
So, after finally convincing Terrax to join them, the Surfer and others first go to locate his axe then head to confront Morg…
It all comes to a head in Silver Surfer #75 which featured an embossed, foil cover (back in these days ‘milestone’ issues were celebrated and made a big deal of) and jumps right into it. Galactus begins the process of feasting on a planet while the Heralds confront Morg. As the battle begins, Terrax tells the Surfer to leave and try to convince Galactus to take back the Power Cosmic so Morg would be easier to deal with. It takes some convincing but the Surfer realizes the wisdom in what Terrax says and goes to talk to Galactus which turns into a major confrontation between those two because Galactus hates being wrong!
With his augmented powers, Morg goes through the former Heralds quickly. Air-Walker is the first to fall followed by Nova and Firelord leaving Terrax to face off against him while the Surfer continues his battle with Galactus while trying to talk some sense into him.
As Terrax begins to fall, Galactus finally agrees to observe Morg and follows the Surfer to the battle. As they arrive Morg prepares to deal the deathblow to Terrax only to be saved by Nova who seemingly kills Morg. When the Surfer arrives and begins to fill Nova in on the Galactus situation, Morg reawakens and blasts Nova, full force, in her back…
She falls and dies in the Silver Surfer’s arms as Galactus arrives and expresses his displeasure in Morg’s actions by removing his Power Cosmic.
Leaving the Heralds to deal with Morg, it’s Terrax who makes the final decision and kills Morg to finally stop his madness.
This story was just as fun to read now as it was 20 years ago. It’s most likely because of the cosmic setting but this story doesn’t really show it’s age at all. I was planning to stretch the reading of this story out over a day or two but it was so much fun I ended up reading it in one sitting!
Deep within my collection there are books long forgotten, either by chance or by choice. It Came From The Longbox is where some of these books will find a new life, if only for a single review.
So, let’s dive in and check out a book that shows that New Jersey, once upon a time, had more realistic and respectable characters around. At least until people with names like ‘Snookie’ and ‘The Situation’ came along. Seriously, what moron actually calls himself ‘The Situation’?! Whatever… Today I proudly present:
THE CRAPTACULAR B-SIDES #1-3
Written by: Brian David-Marshall
Art by: Brett Weldele (with covers by Sam Keith)
Published by: Marvel Comics
November 2002-January 2003
New Jersey is home to very few heroes. The Toxic Avengercomes to mind but that’s about it. See what I mean?
This series seeks to correct a wrong by suggesting heroes can come from all over the place. The B-Sides consists of Laura Broadbahr (Fateball, who has a Magic Eight Ball that tells her the answer to any question she asks), Stuart Welles (Mize, short for “demise”, who has the ability to speed up the decay of any item and even can affect people, though he can’t always control his powers), Jesse Metuchen (Jughandle, who has the ability to leave the timestream, allowing him to see what others are doing even though they cannot see him).
They are all brought together by Charley Huckle to be the ‘hottest new super team since the New Warriors. Huckle is basically a con man who thinks he can make it rich quick by managing a super hero team in a city and state that doesn’t have many.
Their costumes are bowling shirts and their first meeting is in a bowling alley.
They decide to be heroes for hire (yeah, I know that sounds familiar), and their first case leads them to a man who calls himself Doctor Dark, who can solidify either light or shadow. It really isn’t that clear, but shadow makes more sense, right? Anyway, they try to take this drunk out but he proves too much for them to handle. Fortunately (for them) the Fantastic Four show up to help, but only because Reed Richards is concerned about Jughandle’s powers. Reed’s concern is that if he uses them to many times he could end up destroying the fabric of space-time. Of course, kids being kids, they don’t like ‘The Man’ telling them what to do. Sue, being the cooler head that prevails, offers Jughandle something to drink as a peace-offering, which we later find out is something meant to help control his powers and avoid damaging space-time continuum.
After all this, the B-Sides get involved in a small part of the Kree/Skrull War. In New Jersey? Yeah…
So, apparently a Kree living in NJ is mad that his daughter is “in love” with a Skrull. He goes on a tear and ends up in a diner with two cats in the microwave. Don’t worry though, they aren’t real cats. Skrull are shapeshifters, remember?
We end up with the B-Sides actually taking charge and, while the Fantastic Four are trying to figure out what to do, stop the situation from getting even further out of hand.
The characters are very entertaining and the flashbacks regarding a potential fourth member are pretty interesting.
It’s a shame that this group has all but disappeared since this one, and so far only, miniseries.
The art is very much in the style of ’90s-era independent comics. It’s not bad. In fact, its energetic and conveys the mild chaos these characters bring. It does a very good job reflecting the youth of the characters involved.
Then we have the covers. These were illustrated by the great Sam Keith, creator of The Maxx and whose art will soon be gracing a cover of the all new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I still remember the first time I saw his art. It was on the cover of an issue of Marvel Comics Presents, in which Ghost Rider and Cable were teamed up. I admit, I hated his art at first, though I warmed up to it very quickly. These covers are among my favorites of his, especially that of the first.
Overall, as I said before, this story never gets old for me. It’s one that I know I can always read in one sitting and fully enjoy. It’s just sad that not many people know about this book. My hope is that more people will seek it out, read it, and enjoy it as much as I do.