Professor Marc’s Homework Assignment: Part Two

September 18th, 2007 by | Tags: , , ,

It’s time for another six issues of random. Sorry it took so long. One of the issues was an 80 Page Giant and you know how those can be.

The Phantom #3

Year: 1988
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Joe Orlando
Synopsis: The Phantom is the ultimate legacy superhero; a mantle existing throughout the years under different members of a bloodline. To give balance, there is the Chessman bloodline, which has been antagonizing Phantoms for ages. This miniseries focuses on the modern-day battle between Phantom (the 21st one) and Chessman.

There are two parts to the issue. To delve deeper into the legacy picture, we read about the great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather of our main Phantom, Christopher “Kit” Walker. In a story transcribed by the 13th Phantom’s son, the Phantom has been beaten by the Chessman Brothers and is locked up in a pirate ship. Not only that, but one of the brothers stole his badass skull ring. Due to desperation and being totally pissed, the Phantom breaks the chains that bind him, beats up a bunch of pirates, sinks their ship and is saved by some allies. The Chessmans get away.

As a nice touch, this old timey Phantom doesn’t wear a domino mask, but rather has black paint or makeup splotched around his eyes.

He seeks out the Chessman that stole his ring and takes him on in a duel of swords. He steals his ring back, punches Chessman in the face, impales him with a dagger and tosses him out a window. That’s a pretty full day.

In the present, the story involves Kit Walker, trying to bring Charles Chessman to justice. This era’s Chessman is a Kingpin sort. He’s well-connected, has a good reputation and has no problem buying help. To continue off the last issue’s cliffhanger, Kit, in a more civilian disguise, goes to confront Chessman, but finds a bunch of cops waiting for him. He jumps out the window and fakes his death. That gets the police out of the area and gives Chessman a false sense of relief, until Kit closes the door and gives Chessman a nice thrashing. He warns him to turn himself in, then takes off.

There’s also a subplot about the Phantom’s girlfriend, Diana Palmer. She knows the truth about Kit being the Phantom, but thinks the idea that her friend Chessman is evil is preposterous. For the moment, Diana wants nothing to do with Kit. While Chessman charms his lady friend, on the side, he’s been hiring a hitman to take care of his Phantom problem.

The issue ends with the Phantom of today compared to the Phantom of yesterday, as they both descend upon the henchmen of their enemies.

Best Part: The pirate stuff, definitely. It has a cool, simplified Watchmen vibe to it, what with having a pirate subplot that has parallels to the main story. I’m sure it’s by no means intentional, but it still has a nice feel to it. Plus, it’s where most of the real action happens.

Worst Part: It is, more or less, a set-up issue. A lot of the stuff with Diana and Kit is on the dull side.

Bottom Line: I’ve never been big on the Phantom, but I am big on Peter David and this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Makes me wonder if I should get around to watching that movie with Billy Zane. I did want to see it when I was younger. Even if it’s bad, I probably owe it to myself for closure reasons.

Captain Marvel #51

Year: 1977
Writer: Scott Edelman
Artist: Al Milgrom
Synopsis: The last issue, being #50, was a very special one in Captain Marvel lore, as not only did Captain Marvel wipe the floor with the Super-Adaptoid, but he and Rick Jones are finally separated from their tag team curse. The issue begins with Mar-Vell and Rick filling the Avengers in on the story. From the start, Milgrom’s style is noticeable. While his anatomy isn’t so great in some panels, he has a bulky, old style that I really enjoy.

The stuff that Rick Jones does with his new free time isn’t very interesting, until he gets kidnapped by Dr. Minerva, setting up the next story. I know very little about Dr. Minerva, but she’s always given me this vibe like all the other supervillains laugh about her behind her back. I also recognize her as a playable character in the fighting game based on Galactic Storm, which is as horrible as it is obscure.

You better believe I plan on reviewing that gem in the future.

Captain Marvel is enjoying his time as his own man until sensing that somebody’s trying to read his mind. He finds Mercurio the 4-D Man standing nearby. Mercurio is a villain who really didn’t do anything other than fight Thor once and appear in this issue.

I think it’s a shame that little was done with the guy. His appearance and powers are prominent enough that Capcom recreated them to create the Street Fighter 3 final boss Gill. If they do ever use him again, they should drop the 4-D Man part of his name, because I haven’t a single clue what that has to do with fire and ice.

Mercurio tries to explain himself and his need for Captain Marvel’s help, but our hero won’t hear it and continues to fight him. It’s like every other superhero team-up, only for once, Mar-Vell is right not to trust Mercurio. Once he finally calms down, Mar-Vell hears a sob story about Mercurio’s world needing help of the Omni-Projector. Mar-Vell gives him the benefit of the doubt and enters a portal into Mercurio’s realm. Immediately, he’s attacked by a bunch of henchmen.

Mercurio’s realm has really become a utopia, but he’s bored with it and wants to invade Earth. Captain Marvel doesn’t have much trouble laying out every single person in the room, including Mercurio. Really, it’s one of the worst invasion attempts I can remember.

Captain Marvel goes back through the portal and gets ready for his next adventure against Dr. Minerva.

Best Part: While taking in his new individuality, Captain Marvel flies past the Bugle.

“Robertson – forget about Danvers! Get cracking on a Captain Marvel expose for the Bugle! Ooh, that smarts!”

Worst Part: I’ve cared about Rick Jones many times before. His subplot in this story is not one of those times.

Bottom Line: Doesn’t constitute as bad, but it doesn’t change my mind in thinking that Captain Marvel’s recent return is unnecessary. Mercurio’s return, on the other hand… well, that would still be unnecessary. Let’s move on.

G.O.T.H. #1

Year: 1995
Writer: Glenn Danzig
Artist: Liam Sharp
Synopsis: You read that right. Glenn Danzig.

The comic starts off with a group of police officers investigating some mutilated cattle. Then invincible, two-headed, red wolves with green eyes jump out of nowhere and kills them all. No clue what that’s about.

Then we go to a laboratory, where a bunch of homeless people and lowlifes have volunteered for some special procedure. Most of them are pretty up on it, since they get three meals a day and good money. Then it turns out to be some kind of crazy government experiment in an attempt to create the ultimate super soldier, only it just kills everyone they try it on.

Because the government is totally evil, dude! Party on, Glenn!

Turns out that one of the patients did survive the ordeal and has been mutated. We’re never given any indication who it was and why we should care because we need badass action splashes. Anyway, we get this guy.

Watching are the corrupt scientist and the even more corrupt military guy. You can tell that the military guy is extra corrupt because his face is scarred. Seeing the monster, he says, and I quote…

“Then Government Operation Total Hate is a success!”

If this comic’s title wasn’t idiotic enough, it stands for something that’s ten times more ridiculous! Is that really the best they could have come up with? Let me try something off the top of my head… um… Giant Omni Terror Hellbeast. That’s slightly less retarded. Goliath of the Hurting. Grizzly Optimal Tank Hunter. Gravity’s Old Trusty Hubris. Gavok Ogles Terri Hatcher. Goldust Over Triple H. I could go on.

G.O.T.H. escapes captivity because even though they reinforced the glass, they forgot to reinforce the walls in his cell. For the rest of the issue, a bunch of soldiers get in G.O.T.H.’s way and get torn to shreds. The scientist thinks G.O.T.H. should be killed, but the evil military guy wants him taken in so they can use him for their own evil purposes.

After G.O.T.H. leaves, the military guy demands that they either capture him or build another G.O.T.H. to destroy him. BRILLIANT!

This entire issue’s story could have been told in two pages, tops.

Best Part: Professor Marc warned me that this comic would feature genital mutilation. Thankfully, he got that confused with an issue I didn’t read.

Worst Part: Despite that, the final page of the comic decided to use the big cliffhanger art to finally reveal G.O.T.H.’s gigantic monster cock. This is followed by a page of the editor ranting about how righteous they are because they can show off our hero’s Gigantic Oversized Titanic Hose. Don’t worry, I won’t post a picture. You’ve been good.

Bottom Line: I swear, I’m totally considering reading all of Countdown in one go after this because it’ll feel like I’m reading Kingdom Come in comparison. I think I’ll pass on reading the rest of this series. Which is a shame, if you think of all the character development I’m going to miss out on.

Grimlock Owns Thor’s Hammer?

Werewolf by Night #14

Year: 1974
Writer: Marv Wolfman (HA!)
Artist: Mike Ploog
Synopsis: Jack Russell is the hairy handed gent who ran amok in Kent. He’s a werewolf due to his bloodline, much like Michael J. Fox, and both his parents are dead. He believes that his step-father had his mother killed, but in honor of his mother’s wishes, he won’t exact revenge.

He’s been involved in a plot with a saggy, old sorcerer Taboo and his adopted daughter Topaz. They wanted him to steal some special magic artifact, but Jack’s explained that it’s been destroyed for months. They then tossed him in a cell with his estranged step-father. Now he’s out and is faced with Taboo’s son, who has transformed into a huge monster… with Jack’s step-father’s soul. 70’s monster stories were a little convoluted at times.

While feral, Jack still knows that he shouldn’t hurt this monster, since it’s partially his step-father and he’s promised not to hurt him. Sunlight enters the dungeon and he reverts to human form. Desperate, he grabs Topaz and holds her hostage. Taboo commands Topaz to kill Jack with her magic, but she refuses. Taboo allows the two to leave, but never wants to see Topaz ever again.

Later on, Taboo reveals that even with Topaz gone, he can still steal her soul and put it in the monster’s body, making it even more powerful, while allowing it to use magic. Jack gets his second wind and returns to the dungeon for a rematch, since stopping Taboo’s plans is probably a good idea. Taboo wants the monster to use a Midas touch and turn Jack to gold.

After Taboo’s death, Jack and the monster duke it out until the entire place crumbles around them. The monster is killed and Jack is miraculously okay in the rubble. He returns to his home to find Topaz still alive, despite all that soul-stealing nonsense. His step-father is also there. He reveals to Jack that he didn’t have his mother killed after all. Some people were blackmailing them and he was trying to deal with that. When Jack overheard his conversations, it just sounded like he was placing a mob hit. Also, he’s Jack’s uncle. You’d think someone would have told Jack that little factoid years ago.

The story ends with Jack and Topaz leaving together as an item, while Jack’s step-father and sister stay behind. Next stop: Transylvania. It’s Dracula crossover time.

Best Part: The art for Taboo is pretty nice. That chubby, fez-cap wearing villain has nothing but high-quality facial expressions in every panel he’s in.

Worst Part: Confused the everloving hell out of me, but that’s my own fault for starting off in the middle of a story arc.

Bottom Line: Lacked the punch of the Frankenstein’s Monster comic. I do like the feel that comes from the character, though. He’s got a lot of Hulk-like qualities, such as the way he’s not so much a hero, but a decent guy that’s cursed with angry transformations. Yet it’s cool to see a character like that who isn’t based purely on strength, but more on quickness and feral fierceness. It’s like Bruce Banner transforming into Wolverine.

Wyatt Earp #31

Year: 1972
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Dick Ayers
Synopsis: The strapping, clean-shaven frontier marshal Wyatt Earp protects the good people of the wild west in a series of stories. In the first one, a circus comes to town, with one of the performers being a quick-handed gunslinging showman. Proving how fast he can draw a gun, he begins to bully Earp over how superior he is. Then when Earp folds and gives into the challenge, the showman buckles under the pressure and admits that he’d lose due to his slow aiming.

Next story has a man murdered and the killer is one of four men who had just traveled into town. Unfortunately, they all admit to being the killer, which means Earp can’t take any of them in. He simply tricks them into admitting the truth, shoots a couple and takes the surviving gunman in.

There’s a story lacking Wyatt Earp, where a well-dressed man named Thompson enters a town with his hot wife, only to be ridiculed for being a “tenderfoot”. They bug Thompson to the point that despite his wife’s wishes, he gets into a confrontation with them. Surprisingly, he totally owns them all with gunslinging and fighting skills. He dumps one of the guys into a trough and tells them that he’s Major Thompson, retired member marksmanship instructor for Quantrell’s Raiders.

The final story is again starring Earp. A criminal he put away a while back escapes jail and tries to get his revenge on Canyon City through buffalo stampedes, random fires and explosions. Earp plays around with a photo of the criminal, looking at all the possible ways he could disguise himself to the point that when they meet again, Earp can easily identify him and take him in.

Best Part: In a place as grounded as the old west, Stan Lee writes some of his best dialogue. He seems more at home here.

Worst Part: They repeatedly toss the term “Jasper” around like an insult. Those bastards.

Bottom Line: Not awful, but not all that great. Each story boils down to one problem and a solution, spread out over 4-5 pages. Nothing exactly engaging about it.

80 Page Giant: Our Army at War Presents Sgt. Rock’s 6 Battle Stars

Year: 1966
Writer: doesn’t say
Artists: C. Grandenetti, Joe Kubert, Mort Drucker, Irv Novick
Synopsis: We get a big collection of World War II stories here. First up is Sergeant Rock and Easy Company. Easy Company gets their name from taking it easy, even when their lives are in danger 24/7. A new soldier can’t live like that and is the poster boy for shellshock. Rock is afraid for the guy and afraid for his soldiers, since if this guy cracks, it could start a domino effect. His attempts to mentor the young guy fail at every turn, even when Rock takes a bullet for him. When it looks like a tank is going to take out Rock, the soldier shoves him to the ground, goes nuts with his gun and kills the enemy himself. Now a walking tall machine gun man, he’s more accepting of the Easy Company lifestyle.

The Haunted Tank is the story of some dudes in a tank that happens to be haunted by an old Civil War general. Only one of the guys in the tank can hear his voice or see him. The story here involves a turtle that they save from a hawk. They get in a big confrontation with some German tanks, then come across the very same turtle. Because Nazis are stupid, the enemy soldiers fire at the turtle and let our heroes know that it’s a trap. The Haunted Tank blows shit up, picks up the turtle and calls it even.

Next up is Johnny Cloud, the Navajo Ace. He’s a Native American pilot in the Air Force that has to put up with a loudmouth new guy who claims to be the best ace in the skies. Cloud is hung up on never losing a new guy in battle, so he’s a bit protective and when the new guy does indeed mess up, Cloud risks his life to save the poor dope. Their planes both get blown to pieces, but they both survive and gain a newfound respect for each other.

Then we have the Frogman. Our hero, Nick, has always wanted to do some underwater missions. Whenever he asked someone with experience what it was like, they would give him a bullshit answer like, “It was rugged!” or “It was wet!” Finally he gets his own mission and barely gets out alive. He too becomes an asshole, as a younger soldier asks what it’s like and he responds, “Busy!”

There’s a Gunner and Sarge story, which is about the soldier Gunner and his relationship with the dog Pooch as well as the wacky shenanigans that ensue. It’s mainly just Gunner underestimating Pooch’s intelligence, such as at the end, when Pooch plays fetch with a grenade, drops it in front of some enemy soldiers and runs off.

Finally, we get Mademoiselle Marie. She’s a French farm girl who has become a major player in the French Resistance. She finds herself in a tight spot where she has to give important orders to bombers over a radio, but doing so will alert the enemy of her whereabouts and surely mean her death. Through flashbacks, we see that her father and grandfather had also been in similar situations and had their own ways of escape. Marie puts her life on the line and gets through to her allies. Then she somehow arms herself and blows up a tank. She’s badass.

Fun fact: Before the Crisis retcon, Marie did the deed with both Sergeant Rock and Alfred during her soldier days. That’s not a bad track record.

Best Part: As much as I enjoyed these stories, the best part was definitely this advertisement.

See that third panel? With her words, she’s describing hermanos. With her hands… she’s describing me.

Worst Part: Frogman was pretty dull. There’s a reason he isn’t featured on the cover. I always seem to have a distaste for underwater adventures, unless it involves winged feet and dudes yelling, “Imperious Rex!”

Bottom Line: I can’t see myself enjoying World War II comics for the long haul, but a big collection like this is not a bad way to waste time.

I’ll finish off the series next week. Stay tuned.

Gorillas Only Torture Heston?

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6 comments to “Professor Marc’s Homework Assignment: Part Two”

  1. The current Mademoiselle Marie is a member of Checkmate, Black Queen’s Knight I think…

  2. There’s going to be a storyline with the organization in the December Checkmate issue. Good times.

  3. “Me, Grimlock, say thee NAY!”

    Now that is a crossover I’d buy.

  4. So, did the Prof give you that Goth comic as a joke or something? You honestly seemed unable to say anything positive about it, apart from that it wasn’t the issue with someone’s genitals getting fucked up.

  5. I thought of Grimlock with Thor’s Hammer over a year ago!

    You owe me big time.

  6. 4D-man did make another appearance in the Black Star story of Thor, early 70’s.

    Turns out he’s not really an altogether bad person and is just doing what he has do to do save his own planet, and in the end they part as mushy-mushy friends.

    (PS the Phantom is awesome, although I have no idea if you fellows get the same issues we do in sweden where he has like three magazines per month.)