Archive for March, 2010

Talisman cameo in Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #5

March 28, 2010

Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #5
Apr 2010

The breakout series to introduce the new Sorcerer Supreme closed out early with this issue. Originally solicited as an ongoing, the series only included one story arc, which concluded with a satisfying victory for Doctor Voodoo and for the creative team who brought us this incredible miniseries. Talisman appears as a member of Nightmare’s dark army in one panel, having been seen previously in a very tiny cameo in issue #4.

Before bopping him in the nose and sending him back to Latveria, Voodoo had temporarily teamed up with Doctor Doom, battling an un-real army in an un-real world ruled by Nightmare. Picking up powerhouse magic-users along the way, his evil army fell before the mighty duo. Talisman appears on a splash page showing part of the huge battle. It’s a bit hard to understand how Talisman could lose to Doctors Voodoo and Doom, as she could easily overpower the two, especially in the presence of so much other magic energies. However, this wasn’t the real Talisman but an un-real version plucked from someone’s nightmare.

As can be clearly seen, she’s in her Omega Flight costume along with Shaman’s pouch on her right hip. The presence of that pouch is the clue that this appearance is not in continuity, as the original pouch was sealed up and brought into the Realm of the Great Beasts by Beta Ray Bill in Omega Flight #5.

Talisman cameo in Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #4

March 27, 2010

Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #4
Mar 2010

Just as Omega Flight was turned into a 5-issue mini within moments of being announced as an ongoing, this excellent series shared the same shameful fate. Shameful on whoever made those decisions, not on the creative team, who deserve praise for putting together an enjoyable, visually stunning and well-rounded series. In this introductory story arc for the new Sorcerer Supreme, Talisman appears very tiny in a brief cameo in one panel.

When the search was on to replace Strange as the new Sorcerer Supreme, it was very disappointing that Talisman wasn’t even in the running. The candidates involved were all incredibly strong users of magic and Elizabeth ought to have been included, as depicted on the cover of New Avengers #51 where the field was originally shown. Apparently, other factors than ability, skill, talent, raw power and innate relationship to magic were in play.

In this series, Doctor Voodoo battles Nightmare, the ruler of a dream-based dimension, who recruits magically-themed heroes, villains and others to battle against the new Sorcerer Supreme and Doctor Doom. Talisman is one of these, and she can be see in one panel as a member of Nightmare’s green-eyed dark army, just above Ghost Rider, flying boobs-first into battle. She’s just a few splotches of color, so small that it was generally overlooked until issue #5 came out and a more substantial illustration of her in her Omega Flight costume confirmed her presence in the dream battle. Note that this is an un-real appearance in Nightmare’s conjured world, and not in continuity.

For many fans who knew Brother Voodoo as a Fred Hembeck joke character, his choice to be the new Sorcerer Supreme was shocking, and many fans could not believe this series could undo that deep-seated impression. Congratulations to Rick Remender and artists Jefte Palo, Alessandro Viti and Jean-Francois Beaulieu for pulling it off!

I still don’t understand how her costume stays on.

Box and Northstar in Uncanny X-Men #522

March 24, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #522
May 2010

The Nation X storyline continues in Uncanny X-Men as one of the biggest events in X-history unfolds – the return of Kitty Pryde. No spoilers here, as the hated Internet ruined yet another surprise months in advance. Even the variant cover (shown below) art was released weeks before, not leaked, but officially released by Marvel, so it can be concluded they really didn’t make any effort to shock us with this news. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Club, the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in issue #505 and Northstar makes a single panel cameo as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in issue #508.

Wishing to avoid global panic resulting from the appearance of the space bullet, which would be perceived by the general public as an Extinction Level Event, Cyclops turns to the X-Club to solve the problem. The scene with the X-Club in their lab on Utopia opens with a dialogue error. Mister Jeffries and Dr. Kavita Rao are discussing previous attempts to retrieve the bullet and he conjectures:

What if that’s because they were going for the vessel and not the cargo?

Clearly, it ought to have read:

What if that’s because they were going for the cargo and not the vessel?

as this is the first time anyone has tried to move the bullet (the vessel) and not just contact Kitty (the cargo).

After Jeffries jokes about building an interstellar ark to survive the bullet impact and again later in the lab, Cyclops calls him, “Box”, continuing from the previous issue when The Angel also called him that. No longer news, folks, that’s what Matt Fraction wants to call the guy. In fact, he’s not referred to as “Jeffries” at all in this issue, just “Box”. All we need now is the robot so it makes sense.

In under 24 hours, The X-Club builds an incredibly complex satellite influencing mind contraption consisting of a psycho-machine interface controlled by the Stepford Cuckoos using Danger as a conduit. When Cyclops asks how it works, Danger motions to the super-genius Jeffries to explain. It’s nice to see Jeffries all smartened up, but this is quite extreme, even for him. He’s really just not the ditch digger we met in Alpha Flight #16 back in the day anymore. This loose characterization which seemed so wrong at first has become par for the course.

After Kitty is silently rescued, a few pages of silence follows showing normal life around Utopia, including another scene in the lab where Jeffries is shown building some sort of life-support bed for Magneto. Also shown is a single panel with Northstar and Dazzler, as they arrest some ne’er-to-do’s in downtown San Francisco on the evening news, evoking iconic imagery of the superhero crimefighter. He appears to be wearing a slightly altered costume with a symmetrical starburst on his left hip, but it might be just a minor variation of his costume by Whilce Portacio.

Note: there is a variant cover by Mark Brooks, based on a classic movie poster for Doctor Strangelove.

Uncanny X-Men #522 – Mark Brooks variant

Mister Jeffries receives a psext from Rogue

March 23, 2010

X-Men Legacy #234
May 2010

This stand-alone issue fits between the Necrosha story arc and Second Coming. Even from the cover, which shows Rogue holding an extremely suggestive pose as she removes her gloves, you get the sense that something very naughty is going on inside. It gets a lot worse inside, as the book is essentially an unending string of panels showing Rogue’s boobs popping out of her costume. Jeffries appears in one panel as a resident of Utopia Island, the new home and headquarters of the X-Men.

While trying to find the Phoenix Force, the Stepford Cuckoos relinquish some of their power to Rogue temporarily. She wanders about the island, exploring her newly acquired psychic abilities and comes across Gambit, her former lover. During a moment of intense recollection with him of some of the more intimate aspects of their relationship, she accidentally broadcasts sexual imagery out among the general population on Utopia.

It's hard to find him, but Jeffries can be seen to the right of Rogue's boobs

Mister Jeffries appears in one panel as one of the recipients of the psychic sex message (psext?) with a not-so approving look on his face. Rogue runs off, embarrassed, but not so much as to make her feel compelled to zip up her shirt a few inches.

Sasquatch with no swimsuit in a swimsuit issue!

March 22, 2010

Sorry to get your hopes up again, but if you scroll down, you’ll see he’s not wearing a swimsuit so GOTCHA again! Will you ever learn not to click on naughty post titles on FUNDay? Will this joke ever stop being funny? Will it ever start being funny? Great questions, answered in today’s FUNDay post!

Marvel Swimsuit Special #1

Those of you who keep track of frivolous details like issue numbers will be surprised to read yet again about a swimsuit issue from Marvel numbered #1, but yes, they started over with a slight re-naming. The title of this issue was changed from “Marvel Illustrated: Swimsuit Issue #1“, presumably to avoid litigation from Sports Illustrated, but that’s a comic book legend, we think. Along with the name change, the issue number reverted to #1. The format of the swimsuit special changed dramatically from the previous issue to include only pin-ups and fake ads, but no articles nor interviews. The theme of the pin-ups was a photo shoot of party guests at T’Challa’s engagement party in Wakanda. Guardian (Heather), Aurora and Sasquatch appear in pin-ups wearing swimsuits, or less.

On a full-page pin-up by Terry Shoemaker and Bob Wiacek, Aurora, Guardian (Heather), Meggan and The Wasp appear, flying about among the birds.

The caption incorrectly describes the scene:

These native birds used to be the most colorful, beautiful sight in the Wakandan skies. But, when the Wasp, Guardian, Meggan and Aurora joined them for some early morning aerial antics, these feathered fantasies found themselves taking a back seat to the flying females. The Wasp sports an always trendy solid color bikini while Guardian wears a functional yet formfitting circuitry bikini. Meggan displays her fish print two-piece with Rio cut bottoms. And last but not least, Aurora boasts a rousing wrap-around one piece.

As you can see in the image, the Wasp (below) is the one wearing the fish print two-piece, not Meggan (left). Meggan is wearing the one piece and Aurora (above) is wearing the solid color bikini. The circuitry bikini explains how Heather (right) would be able to fly in that scene, assuming it’s a version of her EM suit, but I don’t want to know where the power pack is hidden.

Later, a pin-up by Mike Mignola features Logan, Sasquatch and the Beast. Sasquatch is the one with the chimp on his head. Bizarrely, Sasquatch is not drawn with a swimsuit, but rather in his natural fur. Maybe Mike didn’t get the memo. I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense to draw him that way in a swimsuit issue.

Here is another version of the same image, corrected to fit in with the rest of the book!

Snowbird cameo in Incredible Hercules #133

March 18, 2010

Incredible Hercules #133
Nov 2009

Incredible Hercules took over its numbering scheme from the Incredible Hulk while the big green guy was off in World War Hulk. Featuring a comically bumbling version of Hercules and his super-smart foil Amadeus Cho, this series is a mashup of Greek mythology and the modern world presented by writers Greg Pak and Fred van Lente. Snowbird appears in this issue in flashback to the Sacred Invasion storyline (issues #116-120).

In one panel, Snowbird appears in a recreation of the amazing moment in Incredible Hercules #120 when she swoops out of nowhere to save Amadeus Cho. It was a dramatic moment and it’s nice for Fred van Lente to remind the reader of it. The flashback occurs in a portion of this issue which is a giant recap of all of the events in this title, which was done in issue #126 and again in the final issue #141. I’ve never seen a comic with so many recaps like this – not just what’s been happening in recent issues, but the entire run! It’s enjoyable to be able to pick up a comic book, never having read any other issues in the run and figure out what’s going on based on a combination of storytelling, exposition and outright flashbacks, but this is ridiculous!

One note: Amadeus Cho is shown holding his coyote pup Kirby inside his jacket in that image, but that’s an error – Kirby had already been outed as a Skrull impostor and wasn’t present in that scene.

Note: there is a variant cover for this issue by Salva Espin.

Incredible Hercules #133 – 70th Anniversary Frame variant by Salva Espin

FUNday returns, dead horse beaten! Yay!

March 15, 2010

After a brief hiatus, (during which I heard a really funny joke: the Canadians won a gold medal, in hockey, no less, yeah right), Monday FUNday returns! Everyone knows this is impossible because the USA won the gold in hockey in 1980 and have kept it ever since, so how could Canada have won it? And besides, duh, do they even play hockey in Canada? So it’s just, ah, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, can you? Speaking of which, here’s this week’s FUNday issue!

Marvel Year-in-Review ’92
Duh, 1992

Technically renamed from Marvel 1992 – The Year in Review so that it would rhyme better (not making this up, folks, of course, the next year’s issue was named Marvel Year-in-Review ’93 which doesn’t rhyme at all, so it appears their cunning plan didn’t exactly work out so well), this 48pg magazine-sized comic is one of the most ridiculous books you’ll ever find. Containing fake ads, fake classified ads, fake interviews, fake articles and all around goofiness from cover to cover, this self-described magazine of “Scathing Self-Satire” mocks just about every character and comic of Marvel Comics in 1992 – and Alpha Flight isn’t spared! Northstar appears on a page in a silly response to the revelation that he is gay in Alpha Flight #106.

But we’ll get to that later. In a very long-winded section, “Fakes, Fangs and Fabrications” by Peter Sanderson, an exhaustive look at the previous year’s happenings in Marvel Comicdom includes several insightful reviews of Alpha Flight issues. Here are some Alpha Flight related excerpts:

Alpha Flight renamed the principal members of the team “Core Alpha.” As if these guys could core an apple, let alone an alpha.

Heh, this was in Alpha Flight #104.

With great fanfare Northstar exited the closet in ALPHA FLIGHT #106 – only to discover that everyone had him figured out a hundred issues ago.

Alpha Flight embarked on a World Tour in issue #107, only to lose their luggage somewhere in Symkaria.

Symkaria is the fictitious Balkan neighbor to Latveria and home of Silver Sable, as well as the subject of an ongoing joke in this issue.

ALPHA FLIGHT #108 revealed that the evil Nazi disembodied brain called Brain Drain (can you say that out loud without laughing?) languished in a snowbank for nearly fifty years and yet remained alive. Readers wondering how Brain Drain’s brain obtained oxygen and nutrition over this time may write to Scott Lobdell, c/o Marvel Comics.

Alpha Flight’s junior team, Gamma Flight, was promoted to Beta Flight in #112. That’s nice, but getting a raise and an office window would have been better.

Later, Northstar gets his own page in an article called, “Northstar’s Hair-Raising Revelation” which is essentially a single joke beaten completely to death.

What’s the big deal?

     When the famous Olympic athlete, Canadian superhuman and Alpha Flight founding member Jean-Paul Beaubier made an impassioned revelation in the midst of a battle through downtown Toronto last March, for some reason every major news agency in the civilized world leapt upon it like a piranha on a side of beef.

     So Northstar is gray …. this is news?

     Well, apparently these days it is, along with Vice Presidents misspelling vegetables and epileptics having seizures in response to Mary Hart’s voice. But the media furor over Northstar’s idiotically obvious statement was so overwhelming that at the Canadian super guy’s press conference, many of us journalists were forced to sit almost out of earshot.

     Until now, the superhuman community seemed immune to the effects of social peer pressure, at least so far as it related to their hair. Everyone’s known for years that Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards is partially gray, as is his evil-looking twin brother, Nick Fury. Then you’ve got the all-white mutant squad: Magneto, Cable, Quicksilver … heck, a contact deep within Wilson Fisk’s organization implied that the totally bald Kingpin of Crime is really a closet gray who shaves his head to conceal the truth. (‘Course, I don’t recommend asking Willie about that to his face.)

     So again … what’s the big deal? Psylocke goes from being a purple-haired Brit to a blue-haired Oriental and no one bats a lash. The Hulk’s sking changes from green to gray to green and the media collectively yawn. But, hey, a second-string super hero like Northstar tells everyone he doesn’t use Grecian Formula and suddenly it’s circus time.

     Sean Larkin, noted Toronto-area hair stylist and tonsorial spokesman with the “Silver Grail” salon chain, thinks he has the answer to this puzzling situation. “While the loss of hair color is becoming more and more accepted in our culture, it’s still considered by some to be a major faux pas to mention it in mixed company.” Uh-huh. Right. Let’s ask someone else’s opinion.

     “Before the public statement, people just thought he was an arrogant celebrity,” noted Toronto media consultant Mark Asquith. Ah … now we’re getting somewhere. The media hoopla obviously must have been due to the resounding revelation – Northstar is really a courageous arrogant celebrity.

     – Steve Saffel

The entire page is on a gray background, of course. Note that the image above is taken from Alpha Flight #106 and is the actual image from the panel where he utters the words, “I am gay!”

Somehow the joke continues in an inset:

Peer Perplexity

Marvel Year-In-Review contacted a few of Northstar’s peers – other muscular guys who wear tights in public – to get their reactions to this raving controversy. Their responses were less than illuminating. In fact, most of them seemed more confused than anything else by the whole thing.

Captain America
MYIR: Do you feel there is any problem with Northstar’s decision to remain gray in the face of public opinion?
CA: Did you say –
MYIR: Yes, do you feel he should be forced to conform?
CA: Of course not! It is every man or woman’s inalienable right to maintain whatever lifestyle they wish, so long as it does not infringe upon the personal freedom of any other person.
MYIR: So you feel freedom of hair color is guaranteed in the Constitution.
CA: Yes, I – wait, what did you say -?
MYIR: Thank you, Captain.

MYIR: What is your response to the uproar over Northstar’s revelation that he is gray?
USA: Gray! Ohhhh … so that was the problem! Well, that’s just the kind of crud I’d expect from a Canadian, especially a French-Canadian. No real American would be caught dead worrying so much about his hair. If you want to look like a real man, you just use a little chemical enhancement. President Reagan proved that!
MYIR: Uh … right. Thank you.

Reed Richards
MYIR: Do you feel Northstar’s gray hair presents any real problems in his line of work?
RR: His what?
MYIR: His gray hair.
RR: His…
MYIR: Gray … hair. Dr. Richards, do you have a hearing problem?
RR: No, no, it’s just that I expected you to say –
MYIR: The question, Dr. Richards, was: does Northstar’s open grayness represent a threat to his standing as a super hero?
RR: Well, of course not. But if he did want to change, with just a few adjustments to his basic genetic structure I could provide him with any color hair he could possibly want, and perhaps even give him the ability to change it at will. It wouldn’t be a problem at all, compared with changing things like his-
MYIR: Thank you, Dr. Richards.

It’s hard to believe an entire page was written based on this one joke. It’s about as insane as writing an entire blog post about it, but that’s what FUNday is all about!

Alpha Flight cameos in Iron Man: The Ultimate Guide to the Armored Super Hero

March 14, 2010

Iron Man: The Ultimate Guide to the Armored Super Hero
Feb 2010

Published by DK in collaboration with Marvel Comics, this 200pg book covers the entire history of Iron Man in great, dense detail. Similar in format to the corresponding Wolverine book (Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon) from 2009, it includes sections containing timelines, enemies, allies, key issues, alternate versions and a decade-by decade summary of Iron Man’s history, up to and including the 2010 storylines. Marrina and Northstar appear in two reproduced panels from previously printed material.

Though he’s one of the A-list Marvel Heroes, Iron Man and Alpha Flight have rarely crossed paths. With the exceptions of the two-part guest appearance by Shaman in Iron Man #195-6 and Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #11, you’d be hard pressed to find much more overlap between the Shellhead and any Alpha Flight members. However, it has happened in a few books with large ensemble casts and as a result, two images made it into this book.

The first is on p141, a panel from Avengers v3 #1, where Marrina shows up on a computer screen during a somewhat disorganized call for assembly at Avengers Mansion. She had been an honorary member in the Avengers circa issues #286-293 of the first volume. Unfortunately, at the time this image was first published in 1998, she was considered deceased, having been apparently killed by Namor in Avengers #293.

The second is on p151, a panel from House of M #7, featuring Northstar’s leg during a climactic wild battle scene on Genosha. At the time, Northstar was a member of Magento’s Red Guard. Here is an inset from the original panel:

The book itself is quite large and the pages are nicely edged in shiny gold, which is a nice touch if you recall that Wolverine’s book was edged in a bloody red color. Author Mathew Manning did a great job on the writing considering the expansive subject matter, but the garish layout of the pages and hodge-podge use of intense graphics take away from the readability of this otherwise useful reference book.

Two X-Force #24 covers added to X-Force #23

March 12, 2010

On the Intro page for X-Force #24, a portion of the panel depicting Diamond Lil’s actual death during X-Force #23 was reproduced. It’s not enough of an appearance to warrant its own post, so I just appended the cover art onto the end of the post for X-Force #23, along with its variant cover.

Mister Jeffries gets some action in Nation X #3

March 11, 2010

Nation X #3
Apr 2010

The anthology series Nation X continues in this issue with more “slice of life” stories about what it’s like to live on Utopia Island, the new headquarters for the X-Men. Consisting of 8pp stories by various writers and artists, we get to see a showcase for characters not usually put into the center of the stage, and for creators not usually associated with the X-Men. Mister Jeffries and Diamond Lil are featured in one of the stories, with a cameo appearance by Northstar in one panel.

The third of four stories, “Boxes” begins with the burial at sea for Diamond Lil, who was recently killed off unceremoniously and completely unnecessarily in X-Force #23. This issue was published so shortly after that issue that this story had been solicited as “a story that is so top secret we can’t tell you who is writing it or drawing it or who it’s about!” because it would have been quite a spoiler otherwise.

In a strange funeral scene attended only by Cyclops, Dr. Nemesis, Logan, Mister Jeffries and Northstar, Diamond Lil is put to rest inside of a glass coffin and tossed overboard from Utopia Island. The funeral is strange for three reasons. First, the attendance is so sparse compared to the general population of the island. Note that Dr. Takiguchi’s rooftop cremation funeral in Uncanny X-Men #515 was attended by about twenty mutants, including the entire X-Club, and he was barely known. Second, they encase her in glass rather than cremate her, but that’s likely because she still might be indestructible, even in death. It also raises the question why they didn’t also bury Dr. Takiguchi this way. Third, and strangest of all, Mister Jeffries is wearing a suit! Seriously though, credit goes to whoever decided not to dress up the few heroes who made it to the funeral in their costumes, as many superhero funerals are disrespectfully accompanied by way too much spandex.

The figure in the foreground is very likely Northstar, but he’s not mentioned by name. It marks one of the few times since the pair joined up with the X-Men that Northstar and Mister Jeffries are shown in the same panel.

The story itself explains the sad, sad story of Madison and Lil’s marriage after the unfortunate events of the Neverland mutant concentration camp from the Weapon X series. During that series, a mind-controlled Jeffries built Boxbot guards to run the horrific prison where his wife Lillian was an inmate. In fact, she had beaten nearly to death by one of his creations while temporarily depowered in Weapon X #5 (Mar 2003). The beating was so bad that at the time, fans assumed she had been killed off until it was revealed later in the sequel series Weapon X: Days of Future Now #3 (Nov 2005) that she had just been taken away.

Up until this little 8pp story, even inclusive of the unfortunate events of X-Force issues #22 and #23, the issue of “What’s up with Lil?” had not been asked nor answered. Fans who knew Lil was still out there, still powered after M-Day and knew she was married to Mister Jeffries had been wondering where she was, why no mention had been made of their marriage and why Jeffries, despite having appeared in over 20 issues as an X-Man until this point, had never mentioned her once. This story does a fairly good job as a ret-con explaining why he had been so reticent about the whole issue.

He had been in fact, quite affected by his role as the constructor of the Boxbot guards and was completely avoiding Lil for over a month, choosing instead to immerse himself in the behind-the-scenes construction of the facility on Utopia Island. Chris Yost, the writer who killed off Diamond Lil in the first place, does score points here by noting in one of Jeffries’ thought captions dated Day 9 of Utopia’s existence:

I bury myself in work. God knows there’s enough of it here. The entire installation is a disaster, and given my abilities, I’m the prettiest girl at the dance. Nemesis and Beast help brainstorm, but I’m left to do the work.

This is a very accurate observation, as we’ve seen Jeffries do it all in his many appearances, always the hard-working hands-on guy taking action while the rest of the team just blathers on and on and I’m glad Chris Yost mentioned this.

Another nice touch takes place on the 26th day of Utopia, when Lil comes down to the lab to call a truce just after the unfortunate events of Dark X-Men: The List #1, when Marrina was killed. Although Jeffries and Lil likely never really knew Marrina all that much, even back in the days of Dept H, it’s finally nice to see two of the precious few Alpha Flight members still alive mentioning her passing.

Along with plenty of gratuitous scenes of Jeffries using his powers to transmorph metal, glass and plastic into machinery, artist Karl Moline very smoothly inserts powerful haunting images of Boxbots into several panels. The evil robots aren’t actually there, but are cleverly placed visuals showing the immense depth of guilt suffered by Madison whenever he uses his powers. It’s a very serious insight into the character and is quite a nice touch on top of his otherwise cartoony style.

After forty-one days, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries resolve their differences and continue the tradition of hooking up “on panel” that we’ve seen before in Nation X issues. See if you can tell which of the following images of Mister Jeffries are from scenes that occur before the sex scene and which is from the scene that occurs after:


Unfortunately, the events of Necrosha begin shortly after they get back together and Lil perishes within an hour after that. Chris Yost does manage to elevate himself with this story with a few good points, close characterization and excellent writing, but it all happened one issue too late.