Saturday, December 19, 2015

Psylocke Psaturday: Genosha swings like a human rights-violating Amnesty International-condemned pendulum do

Previously, on The X-Tinction Agenda:

Panel from Uncanny X-Men #271 (December 1990), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Jim Lee, inks by Scott Williams, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Tom Orzechowski and L. Lois Buhalis

Eh, that's enough of a recap. Let's get right to the Psylockin' action!

The X-Tinction Agenda was the X-titles' thinly disguised anti-apartheid fable, told via Genosha, the fictional Marvel country where humans ruled mutants, emigration was at a strict zero per cent, and cats were living with dogs. Sounds pretty nasty, huh? Well, imagine that country being manipulated behind the scenes by X-Factopr's arch-enemy, Cameron Hodge, a guy so evil they put his head on the body of a mechanical spider-worm (Spider-Worm! Spider-Worm! He should be doing a prison term!), and they didn't even bother to give him a cool codename! Genosha: it makes Latveria look like Denmark. Still, we were all pretty sick of it by the twenty-first century and I'm not ashamed to admit that I didn't disapprove when Grant Morrison pretty much took it off the table as a world power in New X-Men. Marvel Comics: wiping mutants out by the millions since 1963!

Enter: Wolverine, Jubilee, and Psylocke — pretty much the closest thing we had to an X-Men team following the splitting of the group and their transmorfrigationing after entering the Siege Perilous. Wolvie, Jubes, and Psyke are all falling down out of the sky, apparently, rather than entering the country through customs the way normal folks do. Wolverine: the best there is at what he does, and what he does best is give piggy-back rides!

Whereas you and I would probably take in the sights, check into our hotel, maybe head out for a quick meal of local Genoshan cuisine (their fritter cakes are to die for), Psylocke just starts kicking people. With "power and grace." I'm pretty sure she buys souvenirs the same way.

Are you keeping track of the number of times the phrase "focused totality of my telepathic powers" is used? Chalk up another one! And in case you're tracking Psylocke's powers for that new edition of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Post-Secret Wars Universe, What Are We Calling This One, Earth-616-8?, please note that not only does her psychic knife cause you to say "Glxgkyl' (which is a compound verb in the world of Sugar and Spike), but it also makes you weep vanilla pudding.

Hey, it's Rictor and Boom-Boom! Hi, Rictor and boom-Boom! (sets off klaxon) We have a crossover! We have a crossover! Also, please note that the kids are less scared of known berserker killer Wolverine than they are of the Asian supermodel. Mmmm, that's good Mary-Suein'!

Confused? Don't be! Here's a handy recap panel in the form of a Psylocke mind meld! Not onbly so Jim Lee can draw this impressive scene, but so that you dont' actually have to buy X-Factor or New Mutants to figure out what's going on. Remember, Jim Shooter sez, every issue is someone's first!

Somehow yet once again they manage to fall into Genosha out of the sky a second time. Is Genosha built on a layer cake model, like Minas Tirith, so that those on the top can just toss their garbage over the ledge onto the level below? And where'd they get those planes? And more important, where'd they get the quarters to run them? Also: a special appearance by Betsy in Genoshan Flight Suit™! Aw, it was nice of Jim Lee to be thinking of variant action figures already.

Wolverine Down! ("What do you stuff a wolverine pillow with?") Luckily Logan and Betsy are picked up by the only Genoshan poilice who have never read the story of the Trojan Horse. And Chris Claremont...stop trying to make "psishot" happen.

Cheese it, Psylocke! It's Cameron Hodge, and he's doing H.R. Giger cosplay!

And that's two "focused totality of my telepathic powers" in this comic. Seriously, try saying that aloud (and with a straight face) and you'll begin to see why it never achieved the catchphrase popularity level of "It's clobberin' time!" or "My Spidey-Sense is tingling!" or "Do you know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning?"

So, that's pretty much how Wolverine and Psylocke died. Or...did they? Buy two other comic books to find out (sort of) and then join us back here next time for another Psylocke Psaturday, same purple-haired time, same purple-haired channel!

Today in Comics History, December 19, 1986: Spider-Man is bored by the approaching death of print journalism

from The Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #288 (Marvel, May 1987), script by Christopher Priest as Jim Owsley, pencils by Alan Kupperberg, inks by Jim Fern, colors by George Roussos, letters by Rick Parker

Today in Comics History, December 19, 1777: Superman cheerfully leaves the Continental Army to die in the winter snow

I will never not make fun of the infamous Limited Collectors' Edition #C-47, which promised us this:

cover of Limited Collectors' Edition #C-47 [Superman Salutes the Bicentennial] (DC, August 1976); pencils and inks by Fred Ray, colors by Sol Harrison

...but gave us this: sixty oversized pages of Tomahawk reprints superficially introduced by Superman.

from Limited Collectors' Edition #C-47 (DC, August 1976); Superman figures pencilled and inked by Curt Swan; Tomahawk pencils and inks by Fred Ray

What's the matter, Superman, too lazy to fly back into time and show us your adventures in 1776?

Anyway, here's what happened...Today in Comics History!

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 353: Leia hates tables

Could this be our last Leiastaurday? Mmmm, could be! But it's as good a time as any to remind you that Leia kicks ass. And tables.

Panels from Star Wars (1977 Marvel series) #20 (February 1979), script by Archie Goodwin, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by George Roussos, letters by John Costanza

Friday, December 18, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 352: Il-Lumiya-tion: In Praise of Cynthia Martin

I apologize for the sheer number of panels from a later issue of the original Marvel Star Wars series, and know that I'm fatefully tempting a cease-and-desist from Marvel, Disney, or most scary of all, George Lucas himself, but I can't let this year go by without spotlighting one of the greatest comic book fight sequences in nearly forty years of Star Wars, by a penciller who hasn't drawn a lot in the comics field but who remains one of my all-time favorite artists: Cynthia Martin. Issue #95 gives us the set-up by introducing the Sith Lady Lumiya (a.k.a. former rebel Pilot and Luke Skywalker girlfriend Shira Brae) in a stunning visual character design:

Splash page of Star Wars (1977 Marvel series) #95 (May 1985), script by Jo Duffy, pencils by Cynthia Martin, inks by Steve Leialoha, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Rick Parker

The end of issue #95 sets up the first moments of the monumental battle of lightsaber vs. lightwhip (now that's more visually exciting than a two-pronged lightsaber, huh?):

But it's in issue #96...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 351: Choosy Jedi Choose Skippy

Whoa, it was waaaaay back in March, wasn't it, that I promised to tell you the story of Skippy the Jedi Droid? I'd better get this one in before the year closes and I shift to 365 Days with Trading Card Squirrel Girl.

Who is this Skippy, you may ask, and how did he get shoved into my late lamented Expanded Universe? Well, to a certain extent, you've already met Skippy, way back in 1977 when droids were droids and the actors who played the Jawas weren't Ewoks yet. Please cast your time-travel-seeing eye to this scene in Star Wars, where the surely-series-derailing choice of Uncle Owen to pick a red R-5 unit rather than our blue pal R2-D2 was such a close call that even Darth Vader issued a sigh of relief:

Panels from Star Wars (1977 Marvel series) #1 (July 1977), script by Roy Thomas, pencils and inks by Howard Chaykin, colors by Marie Severin, letters by Jim Novak

Wait, just what was Luke going into Tosche Station to do before Uncle Owen so rudely interrupted him? We in Star Wars fandom will never know.

Just as every creature in the Cantini scene later had their completely backstory detailed in the Expanded Universe, so too was this ill-fated little R-5 droid's tale revealed by Peter David, first in his "But I Digress..." column in Comics Buyer's Guide and later self-adapted in the very first issue of it-aint-always-canon Star Wars Tales.

Panel from "Skippy the Jedi Droid" in Star Wars Tales #1 (September 1999), script by Peter David, pencils by Martin Egeland, inks by Howard Shum, colors by Harold MacKinnon, letters by Vickie Williams

Skippy was quite possibly the only purely mechanical being in the Star Wars Expanded Universe who could use the Force, which is a dandy concept in so many ways, chiefly that it completely invalidates the idea of biological midichlorians.

Three cheers for Skippy! No midichlorians!


Anyway, Skippy escapes and lets himself be taken in by Jawas so that he can live that soft, plush, Sandcrawler-pimp life...

It's around this time in any self-respecting Expanded Universe story that the protagonist crosses paths with one or two G-Canon Characters, because, as we all know, you are only defined as a supporting character in someone else's saga. For example: I myself know that I'm an important but peripheral supporting character in the canon life story of Jane Wiedlin.

Now, another retelling of the Star Wars saga, which can take place in only one panel because it's only twenty minutes into the movie. Also, it's a good place to dump all the wry and sardonic Peter David "jokes" into a caption box where we can just ignore them for a cinnamon roll visual.

The rest of the story? Well, you know it by heart. Skippy, the red R-5 unit initially chosen by Uncle Owen "You're Going to a State School and You'll Like It" Lars, realizes that it's not himself but true blue R2-D2, possessor of the Death Star blueprint data and all of Darth Vader's embarrassing LiveJournal poetry, must be the droid to accompany Luke Skywalker and finish out the rest of the trilogy and the one before that and maybe there's be a seventh one someday. So Skippy selflessly, bravely, canonically does a Dr. Kevorkian on himself so that Artoo gets to stay with Threepio. Because, as you know, always two there must be.


Later, in his controversial biography There Are You, Force? Yoda, It Is, Jedi Master Yoda contested the truth of this whole story when he wrote "Never a droid Padawan had we. Confused and poorly programmed, must he be, remembering not things as were they, but kind some of universe expanded, was it." Then again, Yoda did spend four chapters of his autobio frantically trying to refute the rumors of his passionate affair with Yaddle, so take that however you want to.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Manic Pixie Dream Squirrel

Throughout the merchandising history of Marvel Comics, there's been more than a few weird-ass trading cards released featuring the Happy Hippie House of Idea's homemade heroes:

But probably no overall concept in trading cards has been as oddball as the 1997 Marvel Premium QFX set from Fleer/SkyBox! The "Q" is for Quesada ("Cup of" Joe), who drew all the artwork, and the FX is for...well, I think it's for weird photographic effects, because every drawing is set against a real photographic background.

That's so photorealistic that they even forgot to pick up the garbage from the sidewalk before they took the picture. Well...that's New York City for ya! Still, there's some nice effects at work here, like this shot of the Black Panther perching precipitously on Patience, one of the giant stone lions outside the New York Public Library:

I'm a little bit puzzled by Fleer/SkyBox's use of photographs that clearly show other companies' logos in them, like that banner spotlighting The New York Times on the Panther card. Or featuring both Kodak and Canon's Times Square billboards on the Howard the Duck card:

And some of the background choices are a little bit...well, let's just call it, as mentioned above, weird-ass, and let it go at that. Cyclops: in front of an eyeglass place! Haw! It's funny, because should he remove his ruby quartz eyeglasses at any time, he could destroy humanity with just a single glance! Also, his spectacles take way more than an hour to make.

Thanos! Not merely content to conquer the known galaxy, he also intends to hang around Rockefeller Plaza and kidnap Liz Lemon when she comes downstairs. Well, can't blame him there.

And to properly display the might and grandeur of Thor, here's a card showing him a mere twenty feet off the ground cavorting with pigeons, the flying rats of Manhattan. Don't touch 'em, Thor! Don't put your lips on them!

At least Storm of the X-Men gets top fly high above the city, which is a pretty good trick with her "look at my rear" posture and her enormous feet.

On the other hand, here's Jubilee hangin' out in...I dunno, Queens? Staten Island? Amityville? Is she selling real estate now? Enquiring minds want to know what the Sam Scratch the thought behind this card was!

But then there is, photographed in Central Park, quite possibly the weirdest, most disturbing, off-modelist version of Squirrel Girl that is known to the entire length and breadth of history.




365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 350: My Wookieewich!

Panels from Star Wars Adventures: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya graphic novel (April 2009), script by Jeremy Barlow, pencils by Rick Lacy, inks by Matthew Loux, colors by Michael Atiyeh, letters by Michael Heisler

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'm pretty sure that's not the actual definition of détente, 007

DC keeps trying to make the point that the All-New All-Different New 52 Starfire is comically ignorant of Earth's customs and all those familiar narrative clichès so celebrated by the TV Tropes webpage — but on the other hand, it's absolutely clear Kori's been watching James Bond movies.

Panels from Starfire (2015 series) #7 (February 2016), script by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, pencils by Emanuela Luppachino, pencil assists by Mirco Pierfederici, inks by Ray McCarthy and Sean Parsons, colors by Hi-Fi, letters by Tom Napalitano

To be precise, she's apparently caught, and sat enraptured through, 1981's Roger Moore showcase For Your Eyes Only.

(Here's the comic book version. Not quite word-for-word, is it?)

Panels from James Bond: For Your Eyes Only #2 (November 1981), script by Larry Hama, pencils by Howard Chaykin, inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Christie Scheele, letters by Jean Simek

Which only goes to prove: Princess Koriand'r may look like a Bond girl, but she's as smart as Daniel Craig. Or at least George Lazenby.

Play us off, Sheena Easton!

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 349: May the Pork Be with You

Panels from Star Wars: Jedi Academy #3: The Phantom Bully (June 2015); script, pencils, inks, and letters by Jeffrey Brown

Monday, December 14, 2015

Golden Age Angel Love Team-Up

Panels from the Joan Mason story "The Beauty Parlor Murders" in Blue Beetle (1940 Fox series) #35 (October 1944), creators unknown; and from Angel Love #1 (August 1986), script and pencils by Barbara Slate, inks by John William Lopez, colors by Bob LeRose, letters by Bill Yoshida?

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 348: The fabric of the universe

On a recent trip to Target I discovered this amazing women's top that A) won't fit me and B) consists of a pattern of Marvel Star Wars comics panels!

Man, that's a whole lotta Carmine Infantino for one woman to wear.

Also spotted at your friendly neighborhood Jo-Ann Fabrics: Star Wars material cloth featuring Marvel comics covers!

I want an entire three-piece suit made out of that. And that's not all: check out their huge range (I'm not kidding) of Star Wars material!

Never fear, superhero fans: Jo-Ann's also has you covered with enough Marvel and DC Comics fabrics to build a circus tent out of:

Click photo to Hulk-size

I think you cannot deny that this truly is the Golden Age of Star Wars stuff. At least for tailors.