Monday, August 21, 2017

DAREDEVIL #191

"ROULETTE”
Writer/Penciler : Frank Miller | Inker : Terry Austin
Colorist: Lynn Varley | Letterer: Joe Rosen | Editor: Denny O’Neil

The Plot: Daredevil visits Bullseye in the hospital and plays a round of Russian Roulette with him while his inner monolgooue reflects on a boy who recently shot a schoolmate after seeing DD beat up his father, and on his own father as well.

In the end, DD reveals that there are no bullets in the gun.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: For the most part there are none. This is the final issue of Frank Miller’s DAREDEVIL run and is a stand-alone installment. However we do learn that Matt’s dad once hit him after he got into a fight with some classmates.

However, way back when I covered issue 169, Miller's second issue as writer, I noted that he had provided a nice monologue from Daredevil on why, no matter how bad things got, he could never actually kill Bullseye. This issue gives us a very nice bookend to that speech as we see that, sure enough, even at his darkest, Daredevil will hew to his beliefs and Bullseye will live.

My Thoughts: So Matt’s dad once hit him while in a drunken stupor. Because heaven forbid our hero’s idolization of his father be completely earnest. There just has to be some kind of darkness under the surface, doesn’t there? Miller tries to sell this as the moment Matt decided he would become a lawyer, when he recognized that his father had lost control and that laws exist to punish people for doing such things — but why? Isn’t it just possible that a guy could become an attorney and a superhero simply because he was instilled with good values by a father he looked up to? Isn’t that enough?

Apparently not.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

FOUR YEARS

It's that time again: four years and four days ago I made my very first post here, and it's time to acknowledge that anniversary with a quick summary of where things stand at the moment.

My schedule isn't quite what it normally is at this time of year, unfortunately. Way back in December, when I took the month off to spend time with our new baby, I managed to read Frank Miller's entire DAREDEVIL run and compose posts for all of it! It was the biggest cushion for Monday posts that I've ever managed to give myself. Tomorrow the final post goes up, and I've barely even started work on what comes next. This baby has sapped a lot of my quiet evening reading time, and it took me about six months just to read three FLASH GORDON collections! But I'm not too concerned; I think I'll be back on track soon enough. At the very least, I still have Fridays lined up for a while. We just finished Flash's adventures on Friday, and after dallying for the next two weeks on smaller "one-shot" posts, we'll head into this fall's TRANSFORMERS stuff, which is coming along nicely.

And that's a nice segue into a "behind the scenes" sidebar, providing a look at how and where I find time for all these posts. I have two prime reading times during my day: my lunch break at work and in the evening after the baby is asleep. I don't usually bring books to work with me, so that's when I read a lot of the digital stuff I post about. I'll whip out the iPad, read an issue or two, then compose a quick post all in the span of my lunch hour. Then the post gets refined whenever I can find time, usually at night or in the morning.

The evenings are when I read the actual physical books: the Omnibuses, comic strip collections, etc. I try to find an hour, during which I'll read an issue (or a segment of the book or whatever), then type up a post. The only catch there is, as noted, our baby is not very good at sleeping yet, so for several months, my evening hour was often interrupted or never happened at all. Only recently have we finally hit on a routine that seems to work, and things are shaping up so I may soon be able to get comfortably ahead of schedule again.

Lastly, the stats: The X-MEN COLLECTED EDITIONS chart still has the most all-time hits by a mile; I don't think that's ever likely to change. Behind it with about a third as many hits is still my review of the INFINITY GAUNTLET OMNIBUS. That'll probably only increase as next year's INFINITY WAR movie gets closer. And more or less tied for third place are some newcomers to these standings: the CAPTAIN BRITAIN reviews and the IRON MAN by Michelinie & Layton reviews.

And those who dare to come here via Google use variations on the blog's name as the most popular search term, followed still by searches for information on the INFINITY GAUNTLET OMNIBUS, and, unexpectedly, searches for NEW TEEN TITANS reviews.

So to sum up: Mondays are kind of by the seat of my pants right now, but Fridays are looking good. And of course Sundays will continue to see The Unboxing once a month. I have much less time for the other sorts of posts I used to squeeze in on weekends, but I'm sure some will pop up now and then.

Friday, August 18, 2017

FLASH GORDON PART 10

“TRIUMPH IN TROPICA”
by Alex Raymond & Don Moore

And now we reach the finale of Alex Raymond’s ten-year run on FLASH GORDON. When last we left our heroes, Flash and Dale had made their way into Tropica’s capitol with the assistance of an elderly woman named Tartara and her perennially shell-shocked son, Timor.

Timor quickly turns coward and tries to hand Flash and Dale over to King Brazor’s secret police, but our heroes escape with the assistance of a criminal named Trico. Trico introduces Flash to the Underground, a resistance group working against Brazor. Flash quickly assumes command of the Underground. Meanwhile, Brazor plots Desira’s execution. Flash and Trico work to rescue her, even as news from the front lines comes in: the army of Gundar, which had lain siege to the capitol, has been wiped out.


Amid all this, a female member of the Underground, Gypsa — a beautiful dancer — has made clear her lust for Flash. But, in a surprising twist, there’s no zany misunderstanding on anyone’s part. Flash shuts Gypsa down, Dale retains control of her emotions, and Gypsa — after a brief flash of anger — takes it all in stride, continuing to assist Flash in his mission. It’s all quite refreshing.

Monday, August 14, 2017

DAREDEVIL #190

"RESURRECTION”
Writer/Storyteller: Frank Miller | Penciler/Inker/Colorist: Klaus Janson
Letters: Joe Rosen | Editor: Denny O’Neil | Supervisor : Jim Shooter

The Plot: Daredevil, Black Widow, and Stone fight the Hand at a cemetery, but are unable to stop the ninjas from stealing Elektra’s corpse. Meanwhile, the Kingpin fends off an assassin sent by one of his underlings, Injun Joe. Daredevil visits the Kingpin for help in finding the Hand, and Kingpin asks DD to take out Injun Joe instead. Daredevil does so and is rewarded with the Hand’s location.

Daredevil, Black Widow, and Stone confront the Hand in an abandoned church as they attempt to resurrect Elektra. DD senses a heartbeat and attempts to use mystical arts to resurrect her, as he saw Stone do to Black Widow, but he fails. The Kingpin’s men burst into the burning church and finish off the Hand. Daredevil and Black Widow go outside, leaving Stone to finish Elektra. But before he can do the deed, he senses DD managed to purify her with his attempt to bring her back to life.

Daredevil and Black Widow enter the church once more to find Stone and Elektra’s body gone, with only Stone’s gi left behind. Later, Elektra scales a cliff in the snow, reborn thanks to Daredevil and Stone.

Friday, August 11, 2017

FLASH GORDON PART 9

“JUNGLES OF MONGO” | “FIERY DESERT OF MONGO” | “BATTLE FOR TROPICA”
by Alex Raymond & Don Moore

“Jungles of Mongo” is a relatively short arc compared with Flash’s other recent adventures. It picks up, naturally, directly where “Queen Desira” left off, with Flash, Dale, Zarkov, and Desira having escaped Prince Brazor’s castle into the jungle of Desira’s kingdom. They fight off wild animals and make their way through a bizarre underground cavern where gravity is flipped in reverse, before finding an outpost of Desira’s army. There, they’re nearly turned over to Brazor, who has convinced Desira’s subjects that she died and that anyone claiming to be her is an imposter, but manage an escape into the “Fiery Desert of Mongo”.

This story arc opens with Flash and company fighting against nature in Mongo’s harshest locale yet. The desert presents a dragon, a lava river, and even a “waterfall” of fire as obstacles for the group. Eventually, low on water and supplies, their mounts dead from heat and exhaustion, things look bad for our heroes — until they’re found by a bandit king named Gundar.


This leads into yet another pastiche for Raymond to explore. It’s not quite as overt as some of the previous ones, but the castle inhabited by Gundar and his men carries a sort of “Arabian Knights” vibe. Gundar proves to be an honorable villain as, even while openly planning to turn Flash and Desira over to Brazor, he has the prisoners looked after by his personal physician, fed, and quartered in some very nice guest rooms.

Monday, August 7, 2017

DAREDEVIL #189

"SIEGE”
Writer/Storyteller: Frank Miller | Penciler/Inker/Colorist: Klaus Janson
Letters: Joe Rosen | Editor: Denny O’Neil | Supervisor : Jim Shooter

The Plot: Stone uses his ninja abilities to restore Black Widow’s health. The Hand attack Matt’s brownstone, outmatching the combined forces of Daredevil, Black Widow, Stick, Stone, Claw, and Shaft. Claw is killed during the fight, then Stick and Shaft sacrifice their lives to drain the Hand’s life forces, defeating them.

Stone meditates to determine the Hand’s next move, while Daredevil and Black Widow split up to search for the ninjas. Eventually they return to Matt’s home empty-handed, and Stone reveals that he believes the Hand will attempt to resurrect Elektra to replace the late Kirigi as their ultimate warrior.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: It's revealed that, rather than being his peers as the previous issue made it seem, Claw, Stone, and Shaft are Stick’s protégés.

Heather shows up at Matt's apartment, drunk and submissive. Later, Black Widow visits Foggy (clarifying that apparently the superheroine/superspy publicly dated Matt Murdock while she was Daredevil’s partner) and a Foggy tells her what Matt did to force Heather into marrying him. The pair decide that breaking up Matt and Heather would be best for both, so the Widow forges notes from one to the other facilitating this.

Friday, August 4, 2017

FLASH GORDON PART 8

“RETURN TO EARTH” | “QUEEN DESIRA”
by Alex Raymond & Don Moore

At the end of “The Fall of Ming”, Zarkov picked up signals from Earth and learned that the planet was in the throes of a new World War (though it’s not the World War II that was raging when Alex Raymond crafted these stories; rather it’s a fictionalized war against something called the Red Sword). Seeing his homeworld in danger, Flash had Zarkov and the scientists of Mongo build a ship to take him home, and he, Dale, and Zarkov boarded the craft with advanced Mongo weaponry to aid in the good fight.


“Return to Earth” opens as our heroes splash down in the Atlantic Ocean, where they’re picked up by an American ship and brought back to Washington. Though the government has doubts about their stories of Mongo, our heroes are turned over to an old colleague of Doctor Zarkov, named Grubich, for care.

For the first time, a fairly large plot hole emerges in the otherwise mostly cohesive FLASH GORDON narrative. Though there have been minor hiccups here and there, nothing has been as overt as this: when the strip debuted in 1934, Earth was in a panic because the planet Mongo was hurtling toward it. Zarkov was a world-renowned scientist who developed a rocket he believed could move the incoming planet off course. As we know, Zarkov was successful -- but the rocket crash-landed on Mongo instead, marooning Zarkov, Flash, and Dale there for quite some time.

Now, as we return to Earth, it seems the world has forgotten Mongo ever existed. Besides that, the government appears to have no idea who Zarkov is despite his earlier fame. Plus, as we’ll soon learn in the subsequent story arc, Mongo is apparently nowhere near Earth, and it’s quite a long journey to get back there!