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The Monuments

First Comics News - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 18:24

WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/28/21 – Sci-fi fantasy graphic novel THE MONUMENTS will be available on Kickstarter on April 1st!

THE MONUMENTS is a 140 page, beautifully illustrated, mystery/adventure story from Oliver Mertz (FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE, MAYBE SOMEDAY), Michael S. Bracco (THE CREATORS, NOVO), and Mike Isenberg (FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE, FUBAR).

The Kickstarter sign-up can be found here.

THE MONUMENTS is about a fantasy world in which four warring city-states are forced to come together to face a common enemy: giant mysterious mechs. Right before wiping out the entire civilization, the mechs all power down for no clear reason, leaving the survivors to rebuild their world together.

800 years later. The world has moved on. The city-states are now united as one nation: a land littered with massive robotic relics that serve as monuments to a long-forgotten war.

After centuries of dormancy, one of these long-frozen mechs suddenly powers up, revealing a man who is confused, misplaced in time, and still very much alive.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Cinematic Superhero Rpg Universes

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 14:30

While we may be past the era of "peak television," we seem to be entering the era of peak superhero TV. The CW and HBOMax have got new DC shows, and Disney+ has the latest Marvel offerings. Then there's a few other things on Amazon Prime like The Boys and Invincible. The superhero dominance of the box office got put on hiatus by the pandemic, but it has gone on long enough now to get backlash.

All of this makes me wonder when we'll get a superhero rpg with more of a cinematic vibe, much in the the same way we got a number of rpgs with a "animated series" aesthetic (some of that could be pragmatic, though. There may be more artists able to do a cartoony style willing to work at rpg rates). Of course, you don't have to want for a new game to run a cinematic style campaign. You could even reboot an old campaign in a cinematic version.

What would "cinematic superhero universe" mean in a rpg context? I haven't really fully formulated an answer to that but their are some traits I can think of:

  • Fewer superhumans (though they are getting more all the time!), particularly villains
  • Lower power levels (in general), but...
  • Fewer "skilled normal" masked heroes. (Captain America seems super-strong in the CMU; Falcon as more gadgets)
  • Fewer secret identities, fewer masks
  • Less colorful costumes
  • A smaller array of possible origins
  • Heroes more likely to engage in potentially lethal action
In general, cinematic universe changes seem similar to "ultimate universe" changes. They are more "realistic" versions of the characters.


First Comics News - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 10:04

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Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 09:49

This week’s Cosplay Girl of the Week Jannet Sorekage

If you would like to be the Cosplay Girl of the Week! Please send your photo to and you will be considered for inclusion in a future edition of Superhero Girls!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 09:46

This week’s Cosplay Dude of the Week

If you would like to be the Cosplay Guy of the Week! Please send your photo to and you will be considered for inclusion in a future edition of Superhero Dudes!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 09:21

This week’s Cosplay Team of the Week

If you would like to be the Cosplay Team of the Week Please send your photo to and you will be considered for inclusion in a future edition of Superhero Team!

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 09:08

Brian “Road Dogg” James, was hospitalized Saturday after suffering a heart attack, according to his wife, Tracy James.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 08:34

The Event Will Be Held At The San Diego Convention Center Over Thanksgiving Weekend

San Diego Comic Convention today announced dates for their November convention. Comic-Con Special Edition will be held as a three-day event over Thanksgiving weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 26-28, 2021 at the San Diego Convention Center. It is our hope that by Fall conditions will permit larger public gatherings.

Comic-Con Special Edition will be the first in-person convention produced by the organization since Comic-Con 2019, and the first since the onset of the global pandemic COVID-19. The Fall event will allow the organization to highlight all the great elements that make Comic-Con such a popular event each year, as well as generate much needed revenue not only for the organization but also for local businesses and the community.

“While we have been able to pivot from in-person gatherings to limited online events, the loss of revenue has had an acute impact on the organization as it has with many small businesses, necessitating reduced work schedules and reduction in pay for employees, among other issues,” said David Glanzer, spokesperson for the nonprofit organization. “Hopefully this event will shore up our financial reserves and mark a slow return to larger in-person gatherings in 2022.”

As details are still being finalized, badge cost, attendance capacity, and related information will be forthcoming.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Sun, 03/28/2021 - 07:05

Think Big Studios Released Live-Action Fan Fiction Film Harley Quinn – Blazing Shadows

Free 35-minute film released on YouTube, telling the story of Harley’s redemption from The Joker

BERLIN – Mar. 28, 2021 – Think Big Studios released its new 35-minute-long fan fiction film Harley Quinn – Blazing Shadows on YouTube. Produced and directed by Thomas Bernecker, who also financed the project, the film represents the work of a team of movie business professionals who collaborated on its creation in their free time over a two-year period. The film tells a new chapter in the story of Harley Quinn, a character who was made famous as a sidekick of The Joker in the Batman comics and movies.

“We have always seen Harley as so much more than just a supporting character,” Bernecker explained. “Harley Quinn has the full potential to exist as an independent character. My wish, as a fan of Harley Quinn, was that there should be a film in which Harley plays the leading role and that we should be able to experience her character in all its facets.” The 2020 film Birds of Prey proved that Harley works very well without The Joker and Batman.

In this spirit, the filmmakers deliberately chose the classic comic version of Harley, where she wears her jester suit, but without the jester’s cap. Bernecker added, “In our opinion, this version of Harley is still the most popular original—the one we fell in love with in the comics and Batman.” Formally named Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, the Harley Quinn character previously appeared in Batman, the Animated Series and Suicide Squad.

Harley Quinn – Blazing Shadows tells the story of Harley’s redemption from The Joker. Taking place about five years after her breakup from The Joker, it reveals that Harley has moved back to her hometown Brooklyn, where she grew up, and now lives in a relationship with her girlfriend, Poison Ivy. However, after all these years in her now quite “middle-class life,” she slowly starts to long for the good old days, when she robbed banks and was guided by great feelings for The Joker and had many great adventures.

As these feelings of doubts, pain and fear swirl around Harley, the audience experiences the awakening of Kitsune, the master of fire and fear. What Harley doesn’t know is that Kitsune draws his existence and power from her self-doubt. He digs deeper and deeper into Harley’s psyche until he finally meets her greatest fear: The Joker himself. For Harley, this turns into a fight against the dangerous love of The Joker. The film culminates with Harley having to decide a direction for her life. Will she remain in her new, self-determined life together with Poison Ivy or her old ego under the seductive leadership of The Joker?

As a fan movie based on characters owned by Warner Bros. and DC Comics, Harley Quinn – Blazing Shadows cannot engage in any commercial activities of it own. “We want to respect the copyrights and make no profit from the creative and marketing power of the creators,” said Bernecker. “It is rather an appreciation for the creators and the lovingly designed characters and worlds around Harley Quinn, Joker, Batman and Gotham.”

Bernecker financed the complete production out of funds he earned from commercial work as a director and filmmaker for large companies. Approximately 80 filmmakers from various countries, including Germany, France, Austria, England, USA, Vietnam and India, participated in the film. The film was shot entirely in Berlin during eight days of shooting in December, 2019. The location for the “Arkham Asylum,” which comes from the Batman Comics, was a former Stasi prison in Berlin.

The 35-minute film is of cinema quality, ideally to be watched on a big screen. For instance, it features sound that was mixed in a professional sound studio for cinema screenings, ready even for 7.1 surround sound.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Sat, 03/27/2021 - 22:26

New York, NY (March 27, 2021) – American comic book writer, editor, and letterer, Erica Schultz, best known for her work on Daredevil will be launching a Kickstarter campaign for her newest graphic miniseries, The Deadliest Bouquet on May 11th.

The Deadliest Bouquet has murder, secrets, and family drama wrapped up in 1998. Three estranged sisters trained by their Nazi-hunting mother must come together to help solve their mother’s murder…and try not to kill each other in the process. Rose, Poppy, and Violet were all trained in the art of espionage and assassination by their mother, Jasmine. When they were old enough to survive on their own, Poppy and Violet left home, with Rose, the oldest and “responsible one” remaining to help Jasmine run the flower shop. When Jasmine is found murdered in an apparent botched robbery, Poppy and Violet return home to New Jersey to confront old demons, dig up buried secrets, and solve their mother’s murder. With the sisterhood and family drama of Charmed and the aesthetic of Singles, it’s grunge meets pop meets enthusiasm for the new millennium.

Working with Schultz on The Deadliest Bouquet is interior artist Carola Borelli (Destiny: NY), colorist Gab Contreras (The Final Girls), cover artist Kevin Wada (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scarlet Witch) and editor James Emmett (I Am Hexed).

This is a story I’ve worked on for several years, so to see it come to fruition is long overdue. James helped me find the through-line for the story, and Carola and Gab’s art just brings it to life.”

The Kickstarter campaign will be asking for $20,000USD to fund The Deadliest Bouquet mini- series (five issues) and send it to print.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Sat, 03/27/2021 - 21:33

Female Force: Dolly Parton

Writer: Michael L. Frizell

Artist:  Ramon Salas

Release Date: 3/31/2021

Print and Digital 

The woman famous for proclaiming, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap,” has proven to be a powerhouse singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actress, author, businesswoman, and philanthropist. The ascent of country music superstar Dolly Parton from modest means to the most honored female country performer of all-time is empowering and inspirational.  Alternate cover by famed comic book artist Dave Ryan.


Power of the Valkyrie: Chronos Edda #3

Writer: Chris Studabaker

Artist:  Mannix

Release Date: 3/31/2021

Print and Digital 

As the Valkyrie’s fate draws nearer she seeks to understand the elusive nature, the future, and ancient myths in which she has become entangled. In the aftermath of Kostr’s hospital attack Suzanne decides it’s time to be proactive in her fight, but Thor and Odin disagree. Shunning the Norse gods, Suzanne arrives at the great World Tree and finds a new level of clarity and confusion when she meets the three strange women who create the fate of all existence. Kostr, the demi-god who has foreseen her doom, arrives and Suzanne prepares to meet her fate.


Odyssey: Solo

Artist:  Abdullah, Carl Riely , Norm Breyfogle, Eduardo Mello, Esdras

Writer: Erica Carlson-Schultz, Chad Rebmann, Scott Davis, Darren G. Davis, Nick Lyons

Release Date:  3/31/2021

Print and Digital 

For twenty years, TidalWave which started at Image Comics has been known for developing mythological characters into modern day world.  This new graphic novel showcases some of the best one-shots from over the two decades such as Atlas, Medusa, Camelot, Venus, Valkyrie, 10th Muse, Orion the Hunter and more.  Featuring art by late comic book legendary artist Norm Breyfogle and a cover by DC Comics Mike S. Miller.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Flashback: DC at Marvel Collected Edition

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 03/26/2021 - 11:00
The original version of this post appeared in 2018...

In case you missed the previous installments, here's a collated list of the posts I've done so far based on the idea that the staff at Marvel in the late 50s early 60s got to revamp DC's Golden Age characters (except for those that never stopped being published). The idea was introduced here.

All the characters presented so far are statted for the TSR Marvel Superheroes rpg:

The Atom The Nuclear Man!
Green Lantern Most Cosmic Hero of Them All!
Hawkman Master of Flight!
And a couple of villains Silver Scarab, the nemesis of Hawkman, and Star Sapphire--is she Green Lantern's lover or his enemy--or both?

Wednesday Comics: DC, March 1980 (part 2)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 03/24/2021 - 11:00

Continuing my read through of DC Comics output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around December 20,1979.

Action Comics #505:
Bates and Swan bring us a tale of a puppy-eyed, hairy hominid from space, who charms children and can wallop Superman. In a twist I did not expect, the creature turns out to be a synthetic being from Krypton. The story is continued to next issue. I kind of dug this one.

Adventure Comics #469: The Starman story here has a bit more of classic space opera vibe than the previous installments, which is a welcome change of pace. The Plastic Man story is the same old stuff. I can't say I'm really excited about either of these features.

Brave & the Bold #160: With Superman and Batgirl teaming up early this month, now it's Batman's and Supergirl's turn. Burkett and Aparo have Batman do some mentoring with Supergirl, which works well. The story suffers from a bland villain who doesn't seem like he'd be a challenge for Batman, much less Batman and Supergirl.

Green Lantern #126: O'Neil and Staton ended last issue with an impending Qwardian invasion of Earth, and now...well, we get the Shark. Sure, it turns out the Qwardians are employing the Shark, but it seems unclear why they would need to do so. It seems like it's just stalling before the main event.

House of Mystery #278: The cover story by Jay Zilber and Rubeny goes out of its way to make the parents of a kid with the power to pull things (weapons mostly) from out of the TV the bad guys, when anyone would be sensibly worried about the kid. The other two stories have sort of dumb morals: truth-telling isn't always good, and old people can be bad, too!

Legion of Super-Heroes #261:
Conway and Estrada complete this LSH undercover circus mystery. Doesn't seem like it really warranted a two-parter. The basic idea was good, but the story is lacking.

New Adventures of Superboy #3: A nerd jealous of Superboy and Clark Kent, uses a device to project back his mental energy to make himself cool in the past. What's interesting about this one to me is that it clearly sets the present of Metropolis in "winter 70-80," with this story in Clark's high school years prior.

Sgt. Rock #338: Rock and the boys from Easy try to take a few days R&R at a ski lodge, only to be menaced by ski Nazis. We get the almost obligatory, semi-honorable German commander, though that doesn't mean he makes it out alive. There's more continuity than I remembered: Kanigher has this issue pick up directly after the events of last issue.

Super Friends #30: Grodd and Giganta are employing a ray to change humans into gorillas as a bid for world conquest. Fradon's art is charming as always.

Unexpected #196: The first there stories in this are nonsense, but Mike Barr and Vic Catan Jr. present a somewhat clever twist on the sell your soul to the Devil plot in a story about a doctor willing to do anything to stop a deadly, global pandemic.

Unknown Soldier #237:
A rabbi, a black guy, and the Unknown Soldier cross German lines dressed as the Magi. It's not a joke; it's a Bob Haney Christmas story! Like many war stories of this period, it tackles racism, but also has a extra bit of "all men are brothers" holiday oomph to it. It's silly in ways, I guess, but one of my favorite war stories since I started this project. The second feature is pretty good too. I liked the art by Tenny Henson.

Warlord #31: I talked about this issue here.

Weird Western Tales #65: An anti-war story is unexpected in a Western book, but it works reasonably well. Conway's story also picks up right after Scalphunter bids farewell to Bat Lash following their team-up last issue.

This month, we also had two digest books: Best of DC #4 was a quartet of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stories (who knew DC had so many?), and  DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #1, which featured four reprints staring the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Sentinel Comics RPG Session 1: "Itsy Bitsy Spiderbots"

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 03/22/2021 - 11:00

Roll Call:

Action Jack: Man of Action--Man Out of Time!
Fibbit: Manic Pixie Extradimensional Dream Girl!
Infranaut: IR-Powered Celebrity Hero!
Il Masso: The Rock-Solid Hero of Little Italy!
Space Racer: Cosmic Speedster!

Supporting Characters: Zauber the Magnificent (flashback only)

Villains: Spiderbots (first appearance)

Synopsis: Individually, enjoying a day in Empire Park, our heroes are startled by an attacked of spider-shaped robots emerging from the sewers, which seem to be particularly targeting them. Our heroes destroy the robots, and join forces. During the melee, Fibbit catches gets images of a peculiar industrial building and a man dressed as a magician, who ages before her eyes. Space Racer had a flashback to a vague memory of a dead world, somehow displaced in time.

Action Jack recognizes Fibbit magician as Zauber the Magnificent, a magician and crime fighter from the war years.

Fibbit also warns the others that she also sensed a malevolent force in the direction of the spiderbots' origin--and it seemed to sense her back!

Again, The Giants! Collated

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 03/21/2021 - 14:30

Art by Jason Sholtis
Back in 2017, I did a series posts doing adventure sketches re-imaging Against the Giants. Here's the complete list:

Wedding of the Hill Giant Chief

Sanctum of the Stone Giant Space God

Glacial Gallery of the Frost Giant Artist

What I Want in A Superhero Rpg

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 03/18/2021 - 11:00

When it comes to superhero rpgs, I've played and enjoyed a few of them over the years starting with Villains & Vigilantes and going through the Marvel Superheroes Roleplaying Game, DC Heroes rpg, Champions, GURPS Supers, and Mutants & Masterminds. I've owned and read numerous others, including Heroes Unlimited, Wild Talents, Silver Age Sentinels and ICONS. I'm about to give the Sentinel Comics rpg a whirl.

I don't think I've ever found the perfect supers game for me, though. At least, not perfect for what the 2021 version of me wants out of one. These are the things I think I'm looking for:

Low to Medium crunch. I'm not interested in rules heavier games like Champions or GURPS currently. I would suspect medium crunch games would probably give the best balance between covering what needs to be covered, but not doing too much.

Emulates comics. I'm interested in something that supports creating the sort of thing we see in comic books (or superhero film) not "a world with superheroes." Some of my following points sort of flow from this one.

"Every member of the Justice League gets to do something important." Older superhero games, to me, make the mistake of wanting to tailor attributes/power levels to benchmarks, winding up with disparate power levels. Sure, things like Karma/Hero Points address some of this, but in comics it mostly seems that power levels wind up being more about how characters tackle problems than whether they can tackle them. The Fantastic Four beats Dr. Doom, but so does the Punisher (or close enough). They just do it in different ways.

Heroic Normals are viable. Because of the ability score benchmarks, guys like Nick Fury or the Challengers of the Unknown tend to come out pretty samey in abilities because the normal end of the scale gets shortened. A system that gave them more variation would be nice. Of course, if you wanted a campaign of these folks, one could just play a nonsuperhero game, so this perhaps isn't as important to me as other points.

Variable Villains. Ever noticed how villains tend to be tougher or weaker depending on the hero or heroes their dealing with? I suppose it could be argued the heroes change and the villains stay the same, but anyway it might be nice if supers rpgs had mechanics for this difference.

Powers not overly detailed, but not quite freeform. Honestly, I lean toward more of a "just tell me what is does take", but you need to certain mechanics attached to powers to use them in the game, and you also need suggestions for people modeling powers, so for that it seems like completely freeform isn't the way to go. 

Supreme effort. This is one supers games seem to consistently pick up, but it bears repeating. There should be a means of a hero giving it that extra oomph in a dramatic moment.

There's probably something else I'm not thinking of, but that's all I've got now.

Wednesday Comics: DC, March 1980 (part 1)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 03/17/2021 - 11:00
I'm continuing my read through of DC Comics output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis. This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around December 6,1979.
All-Out War #4: I'm still not impressed with the Viking Commando, but otherwise this is better than last issue, with a decent Black Eagle story, and a good Force 3 tale by Kanigher and Grandenetti. The non-series tales are better, to with the Korean War story "Road to Sunchon" by Archie Goodwin and evocative art by Ernesto Patricio tackling the common war comic theme of racism. Goodwin reaches for a little too much in the last panel, but it's otherwise solid.

Batman #321: This one starts off promising with a cover by José Luis García-López, and delivers a solid tale of the Joker's birthday by Wein and Walt Simonson. The best issue of Batman yet in the 1980s cover dates.
DC Comics Presents #19: O'Neil and Staton offers up a goofy yarn of a hawk-headed mutant psychically causing a violent reaction at a dinner party. Good thing Superman and Batgirl are there! O'Neil's script keeps referring to Batgirl as the "dominoed daredoll." I wonder if it bothered him that nickname never caught on?
Flash #283: Cary Bates is making each issue better than the last, I think, and Don Heck is supporting that. Not a lot has happened these 3 issues, admittedly, but they aren't decompressed, more like movie serial cliffhanger installments. Anyway, Reverse Flash tries to kill the Flash just as Flash is returning from the future with knowledge of Iris' killer. The Flash doesn't die of course, and lays into Reverse Flash who, in fact, is the murder. Of course, he gets away in the end, so everything is continued/
Ghosts #86: More ghostly tales with the conceit of being true. The most "high concept" (heh) tale has to be the one by Kashdan and Henson about a murderous stunt pilot who gets his comeuppeance when his dead partner's body drops into his airplane's cockpit decades later.

Jonah Hex #34: Our first Christmas story of the month! Fleischer and Dan Spiegle serve up and unusually humorous tale for the normally fairly grim world of Jonah Hex, where Hex is on the trail of some murderous robbers, and finds his father acting as sheriff in a haven for outlaws. He forces his no-account, abusive father to play Santa Claus for the kids at the orphanage.
Justice League of America #176: The whole JLA takes on Doctor Destiny in a classic "split in pairs and collect something" plot. Not terrible, but nothing special.
Men of War #26: Harris and Ayers give us a crossover. Gravedigger leads the combat-happy joes of Easy (minus Sgt. Rock) on a mission. Harris does a pretty good Kanigher imitation, but it's lightweight, late era, DC war stuff.
Secrets of Haunted House #22: Destiny narrates two tales. The most unusual of the two is by Kashdan and Ruben "Rubeny" Yandoc and is like Fantastic Voyage if the blood clot was a witch doctor.
Superboy Spectacular #1: This is mostly reprints, but it does include a map of Krypton, and a cutaway view of Superboy's house. The only new story is a "solve-it-yourself mystery" by Bridwell and Swan, which I won't spoil.
Superman #345: Time on Earth gets reversed due to the action of aliens. Conway and Swan serve up  a fairly Silver Age "puzzle" yarn.

Superman Family #200: This is a high-concept entry anthology, tales of the future at the "turn of the 21st Century" when Lois and Clark have a 16 year-old kid, and Linda "Superwoman" Danvers is governor of Florida. All the stories take place on the Kent's anniversary. Conway writes all of these stories but a number of artists appear.
Weird War Tales #85: J.M. DeMatteis and Tenny Henson deliver tale of alternate realities, where the enemy is various alternate United States. An interesting departure from the usual stuff from this comic.
Wonder Woman #265: An "untold tale" of Diana Prince's time with NASA, featuring a shuttle crash, aliens and dinosaurs by Conway and Delbo. The Wonder Girl backup has nice art by Ric Estrada.

Star Trek Ranger: Here Be Dragons (part 2 & 3)

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 03/11/2021 - 12:00

Player Characters: The Crew of the USS Ranger, Federation scout ship:
Aaron as Lt.(jg.) Cayson Randolph
Andrea as Capt. Ada Greer
Dennis, as Lt. Osvaldo Marquez, Medical Officer
Paul as Cmdr. D.K. Mohan, Chief Helmsman
Synposis: While posing as travelers from a distant land, the Ranger away team manages enter the grounds of Count Angmox's castle and discover where the draconic Ksang ambassador is being held. They pass him a communicator hoping it will be of use later. The transporters are still having trouble with the strange energy fields, though. Ranger's sensors, however, are able to pinpoint a local source of the disturbance in the Count's keep.
Mohan pretends to be a wizard from a foreign land--a ploy that appears unusually succssful as they are admitted to the keep and given an audience with the court wizard, Nilras. Unfortunately, it's a ruse. Nilras strikes them down with a strange energy from his wand.
Nilras realizes the Ranger crew is from somewhere else and just wants them to leave his world. He's willing for them to take the ambassador with them, but doesn't wish to embarass the Count. The Ranger crew makes a pretense of trying to solve this dilemma, but under the guise of a test of Nilras's ability to lower the transporter-blocking field, they just beam themselves and the ambassador out.
Mohan accompanied by Ensign O'Carroll heads back to the planet in a shuttlecraft to retrieve the shuttle they left behind and destroy the Ksang shuttle. The energy fluctuations are even fiercer now and their shuttle is damaged. They are forced to take the initial shuttle back to the ship and destroy the other two, creating a larger than they would have hoped for explosion. 
Commentary: General Order One (The Prime Directive) was bent pretty far this adventure, but probably not broken. The Ranger crew recognized that the wizard was actually employing advanced technology, and noted that he was of a group genetically distinct from the general populous, but not alien, but they never discovered the wizards' secret.

Wednesday Comics: DC, Frebruary 1980 (part 2)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 03/10/2021 - 12:00

I'm continuing my read through of DC Comics output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis. This week, I'm looking at the comics at newsstands around November 20,1979.

Action Comics #504
: Another overly complicated Cary Bates story, but at least this one uses it (maybe!) to better purpose than last month's. Superman encounters a mysterious armored foe, then Clark Kent is saved by a man with "prana-power" gifted to him by his father who has an origin not unlike Iron Fist, but with powers of the mind as the ancient Eastern secret rather than martial arts. It turns out the armored criminal is really the guy's girlfriend who's been hypnotizing him to make him imbue her with prana-power for criminal misdeeds. 

Adventure Comics #468: I've never thought about it before, but the Levitz/Ditko Starman almost reads like a comic book tie-in to an 80s toyline, and the Wein/Staton Plastic Man could sort of be an "all ages" approach. The combination gives this book a more kid-aimed feel.

Brave & the Bold #159: O'Neil and Aparo have Batman team-up with his greatest 70s nemesis, Ra's al-Ghul to find a scientist who has developed the formula capable of turning any substance into crystal--I feel like this was inspired by ice-nine in Cat's Cradle. Anyway, an average story.

Green Lantern #125
: I think this is my first story with pre-Crisis Qward. I had seen pictures of their warriors with the lighting bolt weapons, but never the Weaponers or their world. Anyway, the O'Neil and Staton story is another confrontation with Sinestro and the prelude to a Qwardian invasion of Earth. This feels most like a Marvel Comic of the era than any other this month.

House of Mystery #277: The lead story here by Kanigher/Pasko and Chaykin/Milgrom about an actor who gets too into his roles after a deal with dark powers isn't very good. There's a short one about a vampire in a crypt getting the upper hand on a would-be vampire slayer that's a decent one-off joke. It has nice art by Mar Amongo, who I've never heard of before. The last story is a Cinderella riff by Kashdan, made better by interesting art by Nards Cruz and Joe Matucenio.

Legion of Super-Heroes #260
: Conway and Staton have the Legion going undercover to solve a murder in a 30th Century circus. This one feels like a bit of a throwback, but it's fun.

Sgt. Rock #337: "A Bridge Called Charlie." Standard Kanigher Sgt. Rock tale about a doomed,  heroic stand, in this case, even recognized by the enemy who pins an iron cross on his corpse. 

Super Friends #29: Bridwell and Fradon present a story that feels very Silver Age in its goofy/trippiness. With aliens set on using radiation to destroy all life on Earth, Wonder Woman using her spinning lasso, vibrating at a certain frequency, to move the Super Friends partially into another dimension, so they look like costumes walking around with no person inside. The Wonder Twins backup continues the Silver Age silliness.

Time Warp #3
: These stories really nail the vibe of EC titles like Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, albeit with updated artistic sensibilities. It's nice to see Steve Ditko bring a bit of his Dr. Strange/Shade the Changing-Man trippiness to the tales he draws.

Unknown Soldier #236: This story by Haney and Ayers has the Unknown Soldier freeing a Japanese American from an interment camp to go undercover with him. The Nisei is ambivalent in his role and betrays the Unknown Soldier, but then changes his mind again and helps him. Haney makes an effort, but his story doesn't deal with these topics with the depth or subtlety they deserve.

Warlord #30: See an in-depth commentary here.

Weird Western Tales #64
: Conway and Ayers continued the Scalphunter/Bat Lash team-up from last issue, with Bat Lash explaining to Scalphunter why he betrayed him. I like to see the DC Western characters team-up, but otherwise this story is forgettable.

World's Finest Comics #261: All of these stories are pretty goofy, though some are goofy and enjoyable, others less so. Conway's Green Arrow/Black Canary story about an elderly lady given superpowers by toxic exposure to become "Auntie Gravity" is in the "less so" category, and made worse by Saviuk's inability to draw an old woman. O'Neil and Buckler's Superman/Batman team-up involving the Penguin and Terra-Man hypnotizing some actor into thinking he's the real Butch Cassidy is just too much of a puzzler to accurately assess. The Bridwell/Newton Mary Marvel story is about what you expect from 70s Marvel Family stuff. The Black Lightning story by O'Neil and Tanghal is the most serious but still has clowns on a boat.

Bob Haney's Marvel Universe, A Comics Counterfactual

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 03/08/2021 - 12:00
I've previously speculated in a couple of different ways about DC done in a Marvel manner, but it seemed like a good time to think about things in the other direction: what if somehow DC had managed to take over Marvel just as the Marvel Age was getting off the ground?

Talking about this with my friend and occasionally fellow blogger, Jim Shelley, we came up with several ideas, but since several came down to "Bob Haney," I figured that was worth a post in and of itself. This, of course, is just idle speculation, but I could see it informing a very interesting supers rpg campaign. Maybe it will look that way to you, too.

The HulkIn this timeline, the "hero and villain in one man!" dynamic that Haney brought to Eclipso (first appearing in May of 1963) will instead get applied to Marvel's Jekyll and Hyde character, the Hulk. The Hulk would retain his more villainous "gray hulk" persona through the entirety of his short run, and Banner would be his antagonist. Just like in the real world, this series doesn't last long, so in Tales to Astonish in 1964, Haney and artist Ramona Fradon bring the camp and whimsy they would have brought to Metamorpho to the Hulk. Bruce Banner becomes stuck in Hulk form, but still tries to woo Betty Ross, while being under the thumb of her father who ostensibly has Banner on a short lease "for his own good," but doesn't hesitate to exploit his abilities.

The X-Men
"Dig this crazy teen scene!" The X-men had a rocky start, so Haney was given title, along with a new artist, Nick Cardy--the original Teen Titans team in our history. Haney made the X-Men "hip" teens and gave them new foes like the Mad Mod, and more than one motorcycle gang. The male X-Men often refer to Marvel Girl as "Marvel-chick" as a term of endearment.
The Haney/Cardy team kept the X-Men from going all reprints, though the title wouldn't really catch on until the arrival of the New X-Men, same as in the history we know.


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