Saturday, September 20, 2014

Psylocke Psaturday: That's just love sneakin' up on you

Nowadays we would call this period in the never-ending history of those merry mutants known as the X-Men the March to the X-tinction Agenda, with suitable banners emblazoned across and on every single Marvel Comics title with an "X" in it (and that includes the then-recently retitled X-Daredevil). This trumpet blare of the approaching storyline that promises to shatter the Marvel U. as we know it indicates that we're just kinda buying time and treading water for a wee bit until that big crossover close on the horizon gets here. Back in 1990, however, we just had our stories without any advertising telling us that these comics don't really matter because the main event is what we're waitin' for, an' we liked 'em that way. In this case, Uncanny X-Men has during most of 1990 become one of those books where individual members or small teams of 'em go off on their separate ways and have different adventures before all joining up for a triumphant reunion. Nowadays we'd just send somebody out of town for their own miniseries, but Uncanny X-Men featuring Colossus or featuring Rogue or featuring Gambit and Li'l Stormy were what was being served up at your local comic book store. Yes, because that approach was <sarcasm>really successful</sarcasm> the last time the X-Men tried it:


Anyway, I have to admit to a bit of excitement here, because as the cover of UXM #261 proudly declares, Wolverine, Psylocke, and Jubilee are gonna meet Hardcase and the Harriers! OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY I LOVE THOSE GUYS!



I'm sorry. I've just been informed I've made another one of my silly mistakes.

Anyway, the comic book promises "the ferocious introduction of Hardcase and the Harriers," which is a nice trick seeing as they had already appeared the year before in Wolverine.


Panel from Wolverine (1988 series) #5 (March 1989), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Al Williamson, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Janice Chiang

Anyway, this column is titled "Psylocke Psaturday" and not "Harrier Hwednesday," so what's our friendly neighborhood British/Japanese ex-pilot ex-supermodel ex-secret agent psychic ninja mutant X-Men up to? Why, she's perfecting her impersonation of Morticia Addams. In the next panel no doubt Wolverine exclaims "Bets! You spoke French!"


Panels from Uncanny X-Men #261 (May 1990), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Marc Silvestri, inks by Dan Green, colors by Mike Rockwitz, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Jubilee still doesn't trust/is envious of Betsy, and it's a subplot that, while well handled by Claremont, pretty much goes away swiftly without comment, without even the type of quick-as-a-wink resolution that, say, the subplot of Kitty Pryde being spooked by Nightcrawler had ten years before. Psylocke is cool as a traditional English cucumber sandwich, and without even ever having met Professor X, she handily shows off one of his cleverer tricks of astral projection — sending out an invisible psychic avatar of herself to spy on the world. She encounters shades of Carol Danvers and Nick Fury (well, what woulda been a Nick Fury-bot at that point, if recent mega-events are to believed) and battles them briefly, continuing to set up a subplot about Wolverine's mental madness that would of course be completely forgotten a few issues from now and indeed never picked up in his own solo book.


And oh yes, they get to fight the previously promised Hardcase and the Harriers.


It's their second appearance and once again the "trained to take on the Avengers" line is trotted out. Well, maybe, but consider that at this period in time, the Avengers consisted of what many fans might consider one of their lamest line-ups, and still the active members were Captain America, Gilgamesh the Forgotten Guy, Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, and Thor. Freakin' Thor, dudes. And yet here they are defeated by Jubilee. Hoo boy! Were Claremont and/or Silvestri trying to build up these characters and creating a "back-door pilot" for this new team? If so, wave goodbye to those tasty royalty checks, guys, because this is the second and the final appearance of Hardcase and the Harriers. Well, unless you count their appearance in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition (yes, the one where you tear out the pages and store them in a three-hole binder)...but I don't.


Man, they really wiped out a dozen half-decent code-names for superheroes with this team, didn't they?

Why are the Harriers so ticked off at our mutant pals? Well, partly because Wolverine hired them to attack himself and the two X-Women to make sure that he and his team were in fighting shape, but mostly because Jubilee blew up their comic books.


So what was Psylocke doing during all this? Why, posing for her Milo Manara comic book cover, of course.


It's fairly early in the era of "ninja bathing suit-Betsy," so this might be the first sighting of the ever-changing-in-size uniform bottom. Sometimes it's fairly modest and pretty much covers up her whole derrière, but at other times it's not much bigger than a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model's thong. Well, here we can at least see it covers something. Not much, granted, but it protects UXM against the wrath of the all-powerful Comics Code Authority while at the same time giving young bulls boys something to ogle at in cartoon form. Good thing that they established at this point, then, that Betsy's thong bottom doesn't completely disappear up her


OH FOR PETE'S SAKE SILVESTRI

Paper Doll Month, Day 20: Based on the novella Sam & Max Get Chopped Up By Blunt Scissors

"Sam & Max's Disguise*O*Rama" from Sam & Max Freelance Police one-shot (Marvel (!), 1992); script, pencils, and inks by Steve Purcell; letters by L. Lois Buhalis
(Click picture to Auntie Alice-size)


Friday, September 19, 2014

Paper Doll Month, Day 19: Oh shoot! Isn't she cute!



"Dot's Dress Up" from Animaniacs #12 (DC, April 1996), artist unknown


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Today in Comics History: Free Thor with every purchase


Panels from Thor: Season One graphic novel (October 2013), script by Matthew Sturges, pencils and inks by Pepe Larraz, colors by Wil Quintana, letters by Cory Petit


7,200.

Paper Doll Month, Day 18: Geez, Paper Barbie has the same measurements as Doll Barbie


"Polynesian Fashions" in Barbie Fashion #12 (Marvel, December 1991), script and inks by Trina Robbins, pencils by Amanda Conner, colors by Ed Lazellari, letters by Jade Moede; George Roberts

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Paper Doll Month, Day 17: Then I saw her face, now Irma believer


"Irma's Fashions" from My Friend Irma #35 (Marvel/Atlas, September 1953), pencils and inks by Dan DeCarlo

My Friend Irma was a popular radio, movie, TV (and, yes, comic book) series focusing on the antics of smart girl Jane and her best friend and roommate, the silly-headed Irma (like Gracie Allen, though, Irma was always full of some sort of universal sense).



Mostly forgotten today, My Friend Irma is perhaps best remembered as the movie that introduced the duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to a worldwide audience:



...and while Irma's comic book was at Marvel, Dean and Jerry's was over at DC. Therefore, we can deduce that the My Friend Irma movie took place on the same world that hosted the Superman/Spider-Man crossovers or the X-Men and the Teen Titans team-up...Crossover-Earth, the only Earth that lies directly between the DC and Marvel multiverses. Until Grant Morrison blew it up. BOOM!

So, now you know how My Friend Irma died...in a cataclysmic crossover comic book event.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You could have one more page of Batman adventures, or you could have this

So, this is what passed for "humor" in the Golden Age:


"Kafloppos" from Batman #33 (February-March 1946), pencils and inks by Jack Callahan

Oh, the hilarity.

Please write to DC Comics and demand they bring back a murderous, vengeful Curly Kafloppo in the New 52! You know you want it!

Paper Doll Month, Day 16: Dress Misty for Me




Paper doll pages from [Meet] Misty #6 (Marvel/Star Comics, October 1986); script, pencils, and inks by Trina Robbins, letters by L. Lois Buhalis

Monday, September 15, 2014

If I Ran DC Comics


Scooby-Doo: Futures End #1 (one-shot) (November 2014), incorporating cover art from Scooby-Doo #113 (December 2006), art by Scott McRae and Robert W. Pope

And here's the variant lenticular version!:


Today in Comics History: Batman progressively walks closer to you until you can see he's carrying FOR PETE'S SAKE BATMAN PUT THAT THING DOWN

Yes, today, September 15, is when a phone vote to assassinate a comic book icon determined the fate of Batman comic books forever. Don't ask who it is that killed Jason Todd: as Mick Jagger sang, "after all it was you and me."




"Some Will Die" ads from DC comics cover dated September-December 1988, pencils by Jim Aparo

Yep, this happened:


Page from Batman #428 (Winter 1988), script by Jim Starlin, pencils by Jim Aparo, inks by Mike DeCarlo, colors by Adrienne Roy

And not this...


Alternate art from Batman #428, script by Jim Starlin, pencils by Jim Aparo, inks by Mike DeCarlo

(Here's a color version of that alternate history:)


Panel from Batman Annual #25 (May 2006), script by Jim Starlin, pencils by Jim Aparo, inks by Mike DeCarlo, colors by Alex Sinclair, letters by John Costanza

All because of this:


House ad from Batman #427 (December 1988), art by Jim Aparo

Yep, Jason Todd died today. Ignore the fact that it says something different on his death certificate. They're always pullin' that stunt over at the Gotham City coroner's department.


Panel from Batman Annual #25 (May 2006), script by Judd Winick, pencils by Shane Davis, inks by Mark Morales, colors by Alex Sinclair, letters by Travis Lanham

So, in conclusion...we have no one to blame but ourselves for not spending 50¢ to prevent the creation of Red Hood and the Outlaws.



Assistant Editor's note from Batman #428


Bonus: J. L. Bell has some great commentary on Robin and the death of Jason Todd (click on other inks to explore lots of additional Robin posts), and no conversation about the crowbar-beatin', big explosion death of Jason is complete without Mike Sterling's iconic animated gif seen at the bottom of the post here.

Paper Doll Month, Day 15: Les belles de domaine de ressorts

"Patty & Selma's Fascinatin' Fashions!" from Simpsons Comics #2 (January 1994), artist unknown
(Click picture to DMV-line-size)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ten of a Kind: Got myself a crying, talking, sleeping, walking, paper doll










(Click wide images to super-size. More Ten of a Kind here.)

Paper Doll Month, Day 14: Take my hand






Katchoo and Francine paper dolls and fashions from Strangers in Paradise #28-30 (November 1999-February 2000), pencils and inks by Terry Moore