Did you know?

Batman once fought a thief that was a human/yeti hybrid. True!

Batman, vol. 1 #337

In Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas’s Batman #337 Gotham City suffers from a spate of burglaries in which bystanders have been frozen. Bear in mind that this is 1981 and a few years before Mr. Freeze returns from creative limbo, so there are no go to suspects for the readers, Batman, or the police. Long story short: because his mother did the mountain-nasty with an abominable snowman in the Himalayas , Klaus Kristin (an albino bearing a striking resemblance to Wonder Man) must steal to travel to cold climes throughout the year. Why Kristin doesn’t live in a part of the world where the temperature would suit him all year is never explained. Why he travels to warm climates at all is never explained. Why Batman travels to the Alps to handle this one burglar is also left to readers’ imaginations. Fret not, two things are explained. The first is a full page of narrative boxes over Jose Garcia-Lopez art. This narration waxes poetically about winter time in Gotham City.

A typical evening in Gotham City: under a sky heavy with the threat of snow, the city sparkles… And nowhere does it sparkle more brightly than here on Gotham Avenue, where, during the daylight hours, the rich and near-rich throng to gawk and spend.

Conway’s scripting here is a love letter to his favorite imaginary street in his favorite imaginary city as it can be seen in imaginary winter.

The other thing explained in greater detail than necessary? How and why Klaus Kristin’s mother got himalaid in the Himalayas by a yeti. Two pages of a 17 page story are devoted to explaining how a tall hairy stranger saved her, was seduced by her, drove her mad, and gave birth to his child with inexplicable freeze powers.

So why did I buy the book? It was cheap and the cover featured art by Jim Aparo wherein Batman was doing something reasonably unBatman like.

In the final analysis, can I recommend this book to someone that wants to read a good Batman story? No. Can I recommend this book to anyone that wants to see Batman on skis? Yes. There’s plenty of ski action. Can I recommend this to anyone that wants to know where albino children with freeze powers come from? Absolutely. This is, to my knowledge, the definitive text on human/ yeti breeding.


IT CAME FROM THE LONGBOXES: In which our hero fights a ninja.

I’m not a football fan, but damn if I don’t love me some NFL SuperPro.  This is one of those areas of my collection that: a. I’m hard pressed to justify to my comic collecting friends, and b. I know no one will be fighting over when I die. With that in mind, this week’s return of IT CAME FROM THE LONGBOXES features an examination of NFL SuperPro #2.

For those of you who may have forgotten or were blissfully ignorant heretofore, SuperPro is an NFL player turned sports reporter who gained Captain America like heightened strength, speed, and agility after inhaling the fumes chemicals mixed with burning film canisters from the 40’s or 50’s. Through circumstances to lengthy to explain here, he also acquires a durable and experimental football uniform. He uses these powers and the suit to fight crime. Now that you’re caught up, let’s have a look at the issue.

#2 brings our hero (Phil Grayfield) to Miami to do a piece on a community center run by a Dolphins player. The player ends up in the hospital after being shot, so naturally SuperPro has to investigate this incident. It’s at this point that he encounters a football player turned NINJA ASSASSIN named Quick Kick. Here’s the crazy part: Quick Kick was once a teammate of Grayfield/ SuperPro back in college. The guy straight-up hates our hero so the rest of the book is some sweet football player on ninja action. Throw in an illegal arms shipment and you’ve got yourself the makings of a good time.

As great as it is, the last page is what seals the deal for this issue. We see the luxury penthouse of a gangster as he menacingly previews the next issue for the reader.

Good times, good times. Seriously, every collection needs some SuperPro. Odds are pretty good that you can find it for less than cover too. It’s been relegated to quarter bins since about 1993.

It Came from the Long Boxes

Yes gentle reader, it is time once again to eschew the current books and reviews in favor of a look a yesteryear. Today’s fare is probably my favorite comic book that I do not personally own: technically speaking it is my brother’s, but since he’s in Colorado and the book is under my bed in a long box, well…

After two mini-series, one of which was written by Mark Waid, 1997 saw Deadpool get his first ongoing. This lasted 69 issues, but only the first 20 or 30 were readable or enjoyable. More than John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk, those readable issues managed to capture the Bwa-hahahaha! spirit nicely in a Marvel comic. It’s also where Deadpool’s reputation as the “Merc with a mouth” blossomed into what we know and have been over exposed to today.

Most astonishing for me, in retrospect, is that it’s a Joe Kelly book. So little do I think of Joe Kelly nowadays that I can’t really tell the difference between him and Joe Casey. Nor do I really care to try; I see either name on a book and I avoid it…except the early Deadpool.

That’s an awful lot of back ground for a single book. The individual issue for tonight is Kelly’s brilliant Deadpool #11. Art by Pete Woods and John Romita Sr… about which more will be explained.

So why do I love this book?

First and foremost, it is a time-travel story. Deadpool and his handler/ hostage/ twisted conscience, Blind Al, are thrown back in time after an altercation with the Great Lakes Avengers…seriously. They end up trapped in Queens in what can only be honestly described as Amazing Spider-Man #44. Dp is somehow inhabiting the body/ life of Peter Parker: complete with bff Harry Osborn, gal pals Gwen Stacy and MJ Watson, and nemesis Kraven. Blind Al inhabits her own body, but she is posing as Aunt May… the real Aunt May having fainted when the two appeared. Deadpool, not realizing the PP is actually Spider-Man mucks around with Peter’s friends while trying to find a way back home. Hilarity ensues. For me, what makes this so brilliant is that it is done with minor adjustments to the art and near complete rewriting of the text bubbles in the original ASM #44. Deadpool’s comments and reactions to the way Harry talks and the ditzy acts/ poses of MJ sell this story. Well, see for yourself.

Like I said before, this is probably my favorite comic book that I do not own. I looked not long ago at Mile High Comics to see if I could get a copy. Little did I realize that since it had Deadpool in it… and apparently Deadpool is something of a hot commodity right now… that it would be cheaper to spend the night with a high class Vegas escort. Ah…inflated prices…

Still, if you find a copy for cheaper than a quickie, pick it up. In fact, pick up any of the early books in this series that you can find. I can remember laughing out loud at this book 12 years ago; I still chuckled mightily upon this revisit.

It Came from the Longboxes

This week’s book is relatively new. I pulled Final Crisis #4. On the whole, I liked this Event; the art by Jones and company was superb. Morrison was at the peak his of power as a writer as he brings in most of King Kirby’s work at DC. The two missing pieces are Etrigan and Sandman II.

#4 was probably the strongest single issue: evil wins. We see exactly how it happens, and moreso than any other “crisis,” the events here seem apocalyptic and hopeless.

What really sold this run for me is that for the first time in my reading memory, Darkseid was a true god-level threat. Until this series…even counting “Rock of Ages” in JLA… Darkseid was written as just another big and powerful punching bag for Superman. This guy is supposed to be a god and the embodiment of evil? Why does he spend his time getting his ass kicked by Superman? Why do his schemes seem so small and petty? The use of the Anti-life Equation and the chess set up here showed thought and true evil.

Rereading it, I got a chance to see how this set up worked. The poetry of it all brings these events from the good to the great. From hearing Turpin’s struggle against Darkseid to seeing the death of Mr. Miracle and “freedom,” you couldn’t change a single word without losing something.

I’m tempted to reread the whole 7 issues now, but I’m still pretty sure 4 will remain the strongest.

It Came from the Long Boxes!

It’s time once again for that irregular feature here at LEMUR Labs, “It Came from the Long Boxes.” Today’s specimen was selected from the middle of the DC section.

Today we proudly bring you Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! issue #35 “The Soyuz Survivor!”

It is a bone of contention with me that in the end, the Russians seem to be the ultimate victors of the Space Race. With American Shuttles being scrapped, there is no small irony that the next phase of manned space exploration (if there is to be one) closely resembles the Russian workhorse of the last 40 years. Simplicity has outlasted the technological whistles and bells… I could go on, but this is neither the time nor the place.

For those of you not up to speed on the awesomeness that is Kamandi, it’s set some time after “The Great Disaster.” The curious thing is that the GD wasn’t a war. It was something accidental or natural, but never clearly explained. It’s the brain child of Jack Kirby, and it falls into the trope of stranger in a strange land story. See, Kamandi was raised in a bunker protected from this disaster and the evolved animal people. Eventually he heads outside and meets some androids, some tiger-people, rat pirates, and gorilla gangsters (in a 1930’s style Chicago). Like Quantum Leap, Highway to Heaven, or Belle and Sebastian, Kamandi basically moves from town to town helping people and trying to keep to himself. Unlike these shows, Kamandi has no goal; he’s pretty much screwed from panel one on page one of issue one. This guy just needs to survive. And every now and again, shit like this happens…

Riding giant grasshoppers and confronting hyper-evolved snakes that manage a department store are part of Kamandi’s everyday live. So this issue has him in space; this is the results of events last issue. K-Mand and his frequent partner in crime, Dr. Canus, are on a UFO and come into contact with a Russian Soyuz capsule.  The events are interesting in and of themselve, but there’s not much happening. K-Mand meets a mutated cosmonaut, is attacked by same mutate, hears the tape of his final “human” moments, and he jets. What keeps this from being a wholly pointless issue or series is the Kirby touch. There’s a surprising hopelessness to the whole series. There’s sadness and foreboding to most issues and this one in particular as our mutate futilely attempts to reconstruct a doomsday device. Kamandi is the best dystopia in comics… ever. In addition to the theme, this is where Kirby’s art truly shines. It’s wild and weird, but unfettered by the hinderance that is the three faces of Kirby: male, female, Darkseid.

Long story short, there are places where you can get most of the series for a dollar or $0.50. I found most of the series in bargain boxes at the Charlotte HeroesCon. It’s weird and good enough that it should be in anyone’s collection.

It Came from the Long Boxes!

Working on the Starman blog has made me realize how long it’s been since I took a good look into the long boxes that I’ve got. I spend so much time reading new acquisitions that I forget to revisit the old stuff. An issue is read then filed away; it just sits. This new feature is an attempt to get back into those boxes and look at an issue at a time.

Today I randomly pulled an issue from my X-Men box. Of all the books in my collection, this is the box of which I am proudest. I’ve been building this box for the last fifteen years, and it contains the majority of the X-Men from issue 8 – issue 400. At last count, I’m missing about 15 issues in that range. Most of the issues are in pretty good shape. Mostly they run VG – F. Since it’s so integral to my collection, it seemed fitting that this box be part of the inaugural post.

So the issue I pulled to look at again is the first battle of the “All New-All Different” X-Men and Magneto, Master of Magnetism. I completely forgot what a big player Eric the Red was supposed to be back in the day. He played a huge part in the introduction of Havok; he brought Magneto back from infancy; he also orchestrated the first encounter of the X-Men and the Shi’ar Empire. Scheming in the shadows, in a lot of ways Eric the Red was the Mr. Sinister of the late 60’s and 70’s.

Something cool I noticed for the first time was that Unus the Untouchable is being held on Muir Island among the other “dangerous mutants.” Here’s a guy that had a single issue devoted to him (#8) then he had two cameo appearances later, and Claremont decides to bring him up here. I always wondered what happened to him. He did make an appearance in the ’90’s in the Age of Apocalypse. I think Iceman ended up killing him.

Proteus is here too’ referred to here as Mutant X. This is Claremont setting up for an arc almost two years down the line.

The focus of the story is about how strong Magneto has become and how unprepared these new X-Men are. Really? On the one hand, you have a guy that controls metal and the electromagnetic spectrum. On the other you have an organic steel man, a guy with a metal skeleton, and a woman who shoots lightening. Is it any wonder they have to retreat at the end? Magneto throws both Colossus and Wolverine around a couple of times, and they still make direct charges at him. Banshee was the only one that put up a challenge to Magneto. For the longest time, Banshee was in my top three favorite X-Men for this reason and for his costume design(the other two were Cyclops and Iceman… look, I was 13 at the time).

What I really like about these issues is the art by Dave Cockrum. When I dream of X-Men, they’re drawn by Cockrum. For me, he’s the definitive X-Men artist. Everything is so clean. Cockrum’s bodies are muscular in a more realistic way than most any other artists’. His faces are expressive and varied. The eyebrows he gave Prof. X are to be envied and are the stuff of legend. He’s just the bee’s knees for me. Byrne’s epic run as artist on the title is very much informed by what Cockrum set as the look of the new X-Men. It isn’t until Byrne leaves the title that you can see a big distinction between the two artists.

There’s also a pretty sweet Hostess ad with Spider-Man. Anytime you can combine boxing and creme filled cakes, you’re doing good.

There’s not much else to say about this issue except that it reminds me how much I love old X-Men books. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.