Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Premiere Hardcover, 2008
The first story arc in the CLANDESTINE ongoing series is titled "Family Reunion". In it, we meet the core cast: siblings Walter, Dominic, Samantha, Kay, Rory, and Pandora. The last two are the youngest and initially believe themselves to be the niece and nephew of Walter, but they soon learn they are his younger brother and sister, and that everyone they had been told was an aunt or uncle is actually a sibling.

There are other Destines who pop up here and there, notably genius Newton, who lives in a parallel universe, and Gracie, the family mystic -- but the above characters comprise the core cast. Additionally, by the end of the first four-part story arc, we meet Adam Destine, the family's father -- who sired all of his offspring with an otherworldly genie.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Following my months long Captain Britain marathon, I decided to keep the Alan Davis train going over the summer with a series I've had interest in quite a while: CLANDESTINE. I was vaguely aware of this series when it debuted in 1994, but I wasn't entirely sure what it was. And as I was an avowed fan of the "Image Comics" art style, Alan Davis's clean, clear artwork did not appeal to me at the time (how tastes can change!).

CLANDESTINE was an ongoing series, apparently a joint production between Marvel U.S. and Marvel U.K., but it was canceled after only a dozen issues. Alan Davis, the creator of the series, left after eight of those issues and the remaining four were published without his input. About a year after the series' cancellation, Davis returned to the characters for a two-part limited series, X-MEN AND THE CLANDESTINE. He immediately disavowed the final four issues of the ongoing series and picked up with the characters exactly where he had left them.

Following the X-Men crossover, the ClanDestine disappeared for over a decade. Then, in 2008, Davis produced a new five-issue limited series starring the characters. This series led into a trio of annuals, released in 2012, which saw the ClanDestine interacting with the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Wolverine, and Dr. Strange.

As with my Captain Britain reviews, the ClanDestine posts were composed mainly from memory, since I read these books in July, before I had decided to start blogging. But I like to think I have some interesting -- or at the very least, not boring -- things to say about the books. So, beginning Wednesday: A three-part CLANDESTINE review series.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Note: This post uses the general term "comics" throughout to mean specifically Marvel superhero comics.

Okay, look -- I don't mean for this to turn into a "get off my lawn" rant, but there's a good chance it will. I am 34 years old -- apparently the target audience for today's superhero comics (which is ludicrous to begin with) -- and I fully, honestly believe comics were better when I was younger than they are now. I don't necessarily mean from a technical standpoint, of course. While I admit I tend to prefer many of the artists of my youth to the ones of today, there are plenty of great artists doing excellent work nowadays. And computer coloring and lettering, when done well, blow most of the old stuff out of the water.

Art by Jim Lee (left, 1991) and Dale Keown (right, 2011).
Note the much brighter, more exciting, and visually appealing
colors on the left piece vs the drab, boring hues on the left.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Andrew Wildman | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

The Plot: Optimus Prime leads his Autobots into final battle with Megatron and his zombie forces. Megatron reveals to Prime that he he has programmed the Ark to launch every nuclear missile on Earth  in the event that either Prime or Megatron should lose their duel.

On Cybertron, Soundwave continues to explore the Hall of Silence, while Hot Rod struggles to figure out what to do about the situation.

The Wreckers, Spike, and the human resistance attack the Ark, and Spike makes it inside. Kup manages to kill Ratchet after being inoculated against the Scraplet infection, frying Megatron's brain just as he is about to kill Optimus Prime. The tables turned, Prime kills Megatron instead. At that precise instant, Galvatron awakens elsewhere on Earth. The missiles are not launched after all, due to Spike frying the Ark's systems before Megatron's failsafe can kick in.

Lastly, on Nebulos, Scorponok invites Grimlock to join him, with the incentive of a new, fully-transformable body.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Much like "The Cross-Time Caper", my Captain Britain review series was intended to be relatively short. I figured maybe one post per book, except two for the Omnibus -- a total of eleven installments. But here we are on part eighteen! Hopefully folks have stayed with me this long. As I noted way back when I stated the series, I hadn't intended on blogging when I read the stories, so my "reviews" are little more than recaps with my own random thoughts tossed in, stream-of-consciousness style. My next, much shorter review series -- to be announced on Monday -- will be in the same format, but then I'll get into issue-by-issue reviews of a classic Marvel run, which will be structured more like my TRANSFORMERS series.

So if you've made it this far into my ramblings on the subject of Captain Britain, I really appreciate that. Let's see of we can tough it out for one last post. Much like Alan Davis at this stage in EXCALIBUR, I'm starting to get a little bored with my subject matter!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Note: This volume contains a fill-in issue and a one-shot called EXCALIBUR: XX CROSSING, neither of which involved Alan Davis in any way. I didn't read either of them for my marathon session.

Alan Davis's run as writer of EXCALIBUR continues with our heroes moving into Braddock Mnor as their new base of operations, thanks to Brian's lighthouse having been destroyed during the anti-Phoenix/Necrom affair. It's nice to see Davis drawing the house again, and the place looks pretty much exactly as it did during his previous run with it. We even get to return to the caverns beneath the manor where the Mastermind computer resides, now joined by Widget.

Davis writes, but does not draw, the two issues immediately following number 50. The first is a throw-away adventure following a group of saurian analogues for Excalibur from a world where dinosaurs rule the Earth. The second of these presents Davis's attempt to unify all previous Phoenix-related stories into one single origin for the Phoenix Force. It's certainly a handy issue for Phoenix-philes, but since we're concerned mainly with the Captain Britain related aspects of this run, it is of little concern for this review. I will mention however, that it guest stars the X-Men, and the beautiful Davis cover makes me wish he'd drawn the interiors.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


In case it hasn't been hammered into your skull yet by way of my Captain Britain reviews -- I love Alan Davis.  I've met him once, in the Marvel booth at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1999, when he was the "plot-master" for the core X-Men books.  I got his autograph and a head sketch of Cyclops -- which, frustratingly, I seem to have misplaced, or I would present it here.  I regret now that I didn't ask Davis for Captain Britain, but I barely knew Cap back then, having never read early EXCALIBUR, and with the Moore/Davis trade paperback reprint a couple years away.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Andrew Wildman | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

The Plot: On Earth, Springer, Whirl, and Sandstorm fly into Megatron's trap to rescue Kup, while the rest of the Wreckers team up with the human resistance to infiltrate the still-crashed Ark. As the second group battles the Ark's robot guardians, the first team falls to Megatron's zombie forces, and Megatron himself prepares to execute Springer.

Meanwhile, ever since Optimus Prime left for Earth, Hot Rod has been having visions of himself alone on a barren Cybertron, defending it from some unknown foe. He is unable to give these premonitions much thought, however, as Blurr arrives to inform him that someone (Soundwave, unbeknownst to the Autobots) has invaded the Hall of Silence, where the Autobots keep Thunderwing's remains.

And back on Earth, Optimus Prime's group arrives just as Megatron is about to kill Springer. While Prime and Megatron have a stand-off, zombie Starscream manages to choke out two words to his ailing prisoner, Kup: "Kill Ratchet."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Following Chris Claremont's departure from EXCALIBUR in 1991, Scott Lobdell wrote seven issues until a new creative team took over with issue #42. As it happened, that team would turn out to be writer Alan Davis and penciler Alan Davis, both returning to the series they had launched years before with Claremont.

Per Davis, his only directive from editorial was to tie up any loose ends that remained from the Claremont era, and he does so with flair. Though not known primarily as an artist, Davis demonstrates an unexpected aptitude for juggling sub-plots and maintaining a clear long-term narrative while interspersing a number of smaller stories along the way. And as you might expect from Davis, he brings the neglected Captain Britain mythos back to the fore.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Note: This collection includes three fill-in issues and an original graphic novel titled "Weird War III". None were written by Chris Claremont, so I did not read them as part of my marathon.

Chris Claremont's finale on EXCALIBUR is a lackluster three-parter titled "Girls' School From HECK" in which Courtney Ross (who Claremont may or may not remember is actually Sat-Yr-9 posing as Courtney) sends Kitty to the finishing school she (Courtney, not Sat-Yr-9 -- but who knows at this point?) attended as a teen.

Kitty makes a rival in Phoebe Huntsman, but the girls put aside their differences to become cheerleaders for England's first American football team and save the school from going bankrupt. Yes, you read that right -- Chris Claremont's graceful exit from EXCALIBUR was apparently re-tooled from a teen farce movie script he couldn't sell back in the eighties.

(To be fair, he may have intended the story to come across as an homage to those types of films, but it's played so straight that it doesn't really come across that way.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013


This past week I finally accomplished a goal of displaying my ideal Avengers team in Bowen statue form. I've been collecting these things for the past few years, and I have a modest group of about twenty or so. Two were just added to my collection: Iron Man and Ms. Marvel. I'm still down a Thor, but since he was produced before I started collecting, and fetches insane prices on the aftermarket, I'm unlikely to acquire one any time soon. So for now, this is it.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Andrew Wildman | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

The Plot: On Earth, the Wreckers make peace with Circuit Smasher, who takes them to the headquarters of the remaining human resistance, and describes Megatron's conquest of the planet. Megatron sends out a communication informing the Wreckers that he has Kup prisoner. Springer begins to formulate a rescue plan. Meanwhile, after learning of Megatron's presence on Earth, Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus lead a team of Autobots to stop him. Elsewhere, Bludgeon's Decepticons conquer a planet, then Bludgeon receives a call from Soundwave, informing him that the Autobots are gone and he will now be able to procure the mysterious item Bludgeon requires... which appears to be the remains of a Transformer.

G1 Continuity: Circuit Smasher is revealed to be Spike Witwicky, longtime Autobot ally and once the Headmaster partner of Fortress Maximus. The leader of the human resistance is G.B. Blackrock, who was an oil magnate and friend to the Autobots throughout the original series. Megatron has exposed Kup to the Scraplets, metal-eating space-mites from the Budiansky run.

Also, Circuit Breaker appears -- unnamed in silhouette to avoid rights issues -- during Spike's flashbacks to the Megatron war. Blackrock later mentions her, calling her only "a former employee".

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


"The Cross-Time Caper" continues as Excalibur -- sans Kitty, who was transported back to our Earth during the previous issue's Jamie Braddock story -- travels to an Earth ruled by longtime X-Men foe the Shadow King, in a 2-parter illustrated in sub-standard fashion by Chris Wozniak. Despite his amateurish style, Wozniak somehow becomes the series' regular guest penciler from this point.

Fortunately, Alan Davis soon returns for a 2-parter in which Illyana Rasputin -- Magik of the New Mutants -- corrupted by her demonic powers, rules the Earth (sensing a pattern?). Davis's visuals are as spectacular as ever, but as usual, this installment of "Cross-Time" feels like a waste of paper. Claremont's stories have become less and less inspired with every chapter of "Cross-Time", but mercifully, the story is drawing to a close.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Issue number 12 of EXCALIBUR begins a storyline called "The Cross-Time Caper" -- labelled on the cover as part 1 of 9. "Cross-Time Caper" ends in issue #24. Even with one inventory issue along the way (#20), that still means this supposed 9-part storyline actually clocks in at twelve parts! Chris Claremont is known for "writing to the moment" and abandoning his established plans when an apparently better idea comes to him. Presumably, that's what happened here to lengthen "Cross-Time".

Unfortunately, the result is a story which long overstays its welcome. Never mind that sending the heroes of a relatively new series off on an extended trains-dimensional romp, away from their supporting cast and home environs, before they've even hit a dozen issues, is probably not the best-conceived idea -- making that story about two times longer than it probably should've been only exacerbates the problem.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I love Marvel's current collected editions department. Really, I do. They put out quality books with top-notch production values and graphic design work. I'm proud to have their products on my bookcase. So when I go off on my rant here, just remember that I'm railing on one relatively minor aspect of something that I otherwise love pretty much unconditionally.

Left: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #238, 1983

Friday, October 4, 2013


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Andrew Wildman | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

The Plot: On Earth, the Wreckers are pursued by Megatron's lobotomized Decepticon forces while searching for an array they can use to contact Cybertron. The Decepticons capture Kup, to whom Megatron reveals he wants the Autobots, and especially Optimus Prime, to come find him. Meanwhile, Ultra Magnus learns that the Wreckers stole a shuttle for their secret mission. And Grimlock arrives on planet Nebulos in search of a cure for Nucleon poisoning, but finds himself attacked and captured by Nebulon forces. Finally, on Earth, the Wreckers are attacked by a human calling himself Circuit Smasher.

G1 Continuity: Nebulos is the planet where the Headmasters, Targetmasters, and Powermasters first appeared, circa the HEADMASTERS limited series in 1987. Circuit Smasher is clearly based on Circuit Breaker, a human character used primarily in Bob Budiansky's early G1 issues. Her rights are owned by Marvel rather than Hasbro, so I don't expect to see her pop up in this series.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Note: EXCALIBUR CLASSIC volume 2 contains the 1989 EXCALIBUR SPECIAL EDITION comic, "Mojo Mayhem".  Even though it's written by Chris Claremont, I did not read that story as part of this marathon, due to its negligible contributions to the series' ongoing continuity.

The six issues in EXCALIBUR CLASSIC volume 2 comprise two main story arcs.  The first is EXCALIBUR's segment of the 1988 X-Men crossover, "Inferno".  With New York overrun by demons, Rachel senses that her baby brother Nathan is in danger and takes off to find him, and Excalibur pursues their teammate.  In New York, the demon infestation affects each member of the team in a different way.  Meggan is corrupted and becomes the Goblin Princess, with Captain Britain acting as her bodyguard/slave.  Kitty manages to free the two of them with the use of the Soulsword, a demonic blade which once belonged to her friend, Illyana.

The "Inferno" crossover gives us some potentially interesting character development, but overall it feels like a time-killer -- a case of the title participating in a crossover because it must, not because it has anything interesting to contribute.  This seems especially odd considering Rachel's connection to Nathan and Kitty's connection to Illyana, as both those characters are integral to the main crossover event in UNCANNY X-MEN, X-FACTOR, and NEW MUTANTS.  Doubly peculiar is that Chris Claremont, one of the masterminds behind "Inferno", wrote the EXCALIBUR segment and could easily have given the group a larger role in the proceedings if he had so chosen.