Monday, June 30, 2014


Words: Roger Stern | Plot & Pictures: Marie Severin | Inks: Jim Mooney
Letters: Jim Novak | Colorist: Ben Sean | Scrutiny: Dennis O'Neil
Medic: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man stops a car chasing an ambulance, but learns that the car contains police officers while the ambulance, transporting a witness, was hijacked by criminals. The web-slinger catches up with the ambulance, but the criminals escape, distracting our hero by way of attempting to knock a marquee onto nearby civilians. The web-slinger finds that one of the villains dropped a matchbook from a restaurant called the Chrysanthemum and the Sword, then heads to a nearby police precinct, where he learns that the kidnapped witness is the Smuggler.

Later, after spending the day at Empire State University as Peter Parker, Spider-Man heads to the restaurant, aboard a boat in New York Harbor, to investigate. He finds the Smuggler tied up below decks and frees him. They fight their way out together past the restaurant's samurai guards, but the Smuggler is shot in the escape. Spider-Man rescues him just as the police arrive. The restaurant's owner demands that the authorities arrest the webbed wonder for terrorizing their establishment, but Spider-Man exposes the place as a drug-smuggling front, using patrons' doggie bags to get the goods into New York. The wall-crawler is cleared by the police and the Smuggler taken back into custody.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Story & Art: Tommy Yune | Inks: Vince Russell
Colors: Guy Majors | Letters: Richard Starkinks & Comicraft
Assistant Editor: John Layman | Editor: Scott Dunbier
With Special Thanks to Wai Lin Liao for Chinese dialogue
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

KAMIKAZE! is the rare (perhaps only?) Danger Girl story not plotted and/or scripted by the series creators, J. Scott Campbell and/or Andy Hartnell. Instead we have Tommy Yune serving as both writer and artist on this two-part mini-series, and doing an admirable job of it.

Yune's plot springs out of the original DANGER GIRL series, featuring a Japanese terrorist organization called the Kama (translated to English as "the Sickle"). The Kama's logo matches that of the Hammer Empire, and it is stated in the story that the Kama was going to team up with the Hammer to form a new "Axis of Terror" before the Hammer's unexpected end at the hands of the Danger Girl team. The Kama was founded by a rogue Japanese general in the aftermath of World War II, and is led in the present day by the mysterious Empress Doken and her right hand man, Shogunner -- a huge black-armored samurai reminiscent of the Hammer Empire's own hulking Major Maxim.

The story follows the Danger Girl team, consisting here of Abbey, Sydney, Valerie, and Deuce, along with Hong Kong police agent Mei Yaoh, as they pursue the Kama around Asia while the terrorist group searches for a long-lost anti-matter bomb developed by the Axis powers in the latter days of the War. The chase takes our heroines from Hong Kong to Cambodia to the South China Sea, where the final showdown occurs. The day is saved thanks to Valerie defusing the bomb, but Empress Doken and Shogunner -- revealed as the artificially preserved Kama founder, General Akuhido, escape.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Rick Leonardi | Inker: Jim Mooney
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Ben Sean | Editor: Denny O'Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The White Tiger's body is dumped outside the Daily Bugle building just as Peter Parker is on his way out. As the car which carried the Tiger speeds away, Peter tags it with a spider-tracer before turning his attention to the ailing Tiger, who has a note reading "This is the first" pinned to his chest. An ambulence arrives and carries the Tiger and Peter to Bellevue Hospital, where Blackbyrd appears to watch over the Tiger as the emergency surgeons work on him. Meanwhile, Peter changes to Spider-Man and goes in search of his spider-tracer.

The web-slinger eventually tracks the car to a junkyard where Gideon Mace's men are disposing of it. Spider-Man takes the soldiers out and speaks with Mace over their radio. Mace brags that he and his men are headquartered at the decommissioned East Side National Guard Armory, and the wall-crawler heads there immediately. He allows Mace's men to believe he has been killed by their land mines, thus sneaking into the building and getting the drop on them. After working his way through several armed soldiers and their howitzers, Spider-Man comes face to face with Mace. The webbed wonder gets the upper hand on the villain, but Mace orders his men to open fire, even if it means taking him out. Mace is gunned down as Spider-Man dives for cover. Later, Mace is wheeled into Bellevue just as the White Tiger is removed from the operating room, in stable condition.

A week later, Hector Ayala removes the tiger amulets, declaring that the White Tiger will be no more. He and his girlfriend Holly move away from New York to find someplace where they can live once more in anonymity.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Denys Cowan
Inkers: Jim Mooney, Dave Humphreys, Josef Rubenstein
Letterers: Joe Rosen, Jim Novak | Colorists: Ed Hannigan, Christie Scheele
Editor: Dennis O'Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Nathaniel Alexander Byrd, a private detective called Blackbyrd, speaks with a stool pigeon named Lou Gunther. He tells Gunther the history of the Hector Ayala, a.k.a. the White Tiger, his tale culminating with the murder of the Tiger's family one night before. Blackbyrd wants to know who did it, as does the White Tiger -- who arrives moments after the story has been told.

Gunther tells the Tiger that it was "out of town muscle" who murdered his parents and sister, and the Tiger vows to track them down. He heads for the abandoned candy shop Gunther says they have been using as a headquarters, where he finds the men -- a highly trianed military unit led by Colonel Gideon Mace -- holed up.

Mace's soldiers battle the Tiger until he is forced to retreat, but he finds his attempted point of egress -- a window -- to be painted onto the wall by Mace as a trap. With his back literally against the wall, the White Tiger is gunned down by Mace, who proclaims him the first victim of a crusade to rid New York City of all its superhuman residents.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Two books arrived this month, and they're both thick trade paperbacks from Marvel. First is NOVA CLASSIC, volume 3. I'm not sure why Marvel felt the need to pad this series out to three volumes. The original NOVA series ran for 25 issues. NOVA CLASSIC, volume 1 contained issues 1 through 12, plus an AMAZING SPIDER-MAN crossover issue. You'd think that volume 2 would then contain issues 13 through 25 and that'd be the end of it, right? Not so. Instead, the second volume gives us issues 13 - 19, plus three totally unnecessary issues of DEFENDERS which barely feature Nova, as well as an annual each for FANTASTIC FOUR and a MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE. Now, volume 3 covers NOVA 20 - 25, plus ten issues of FANTASTIC FOUR which wrap up Nova's story, but most of which involve Nova himself very little. Plus, all those FF issues were already collected a few years ago in a book called FANTASTIC FOUR: IN SEARCH OF GALACTUS, which can be found for bargain basement prices these days.

Nonetheless, since I bought NOVA CLASSIC volume 1, I went ahead and picked up volumes 2 and 3. And, regardless of my misgivings on some of the content, I am looking forward to reading these original seventies adventures of the Human Rocket.

A book with which I'm much more satisfied, however, is the SPIDER-MAN EPIC COLLECTION: GHOSTS OF THE PAST. This volume collects a chunk of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN issues by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz -- issues 259 - 272, to be precise. Note that the SPIDER-MAN BY ROGER STERN OMNIBUS ends with issue #252, and the upcoming SPIDER-MAN: THE COMPLETE ALIEN COSTUME SAGA volume 1 will cover, among others, issues 252 - 258. I love when Marvel sets up their collections this way. All three books together will contain an uninterrupted AMAZING SPIDER-MAN run of issues 226 - 272. It's a great time for Marvel collected editions, and especially for Spider-Man, whose classic (but post-Stan Lee) material was vastly under-represented for a long time.

Friday, June 20, 2014


The DANGER GIRL SPECIAL was released during the run of the original series, presumably as a way to keep up reader interest during the long delays between the later issues. Functioning essentially as an "annual", the issue features two short stories spotlighting the Danger Girls.

Story: Andy Hartnell, J. Scott Campbell & Arthur Adams
Drawings: Arthur Adams | Digital Inks: Digital Chameleon
Colors: Justin Ponsor & Matt Milla w/Chris Garcia | Lettering: Comicraft's Rich'n'Wes
Assistant Editor: John Layman | Editor: Scott Dunbier

The first tale is illustrated by the talented Art Adams, and stars Valerie, daydreaming about life as a full-fledged Danger Girl while relegated by Deuce to cataloguing the group's recent acquisitions while Abbey and Sydney are away on a mission. Valerie fantasizes about a scenario where she plays the role of the capable and confident Sydney while Sydney herself functions as the bumbling sidekick on a mission to track down a Bigfoot-type of creature in the jungle. Then, after a very brief imagined scenario in which she is the Deuce-like leader of the "Danger Boys", Valerie moves on to her second longer daydream, casting herself as Abbey and rescuing Johnny Barracuda from a mad scientist in an exo-skeleton. The story ultimately ends with Sydney and Abbey returning from their mission and Abbey finding Valerie asleep, clutching Sydney's whip as she dreams of her Danger Girl adventures.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: Marie Severin & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Christie Scheele | Editor: Denny O'Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The aliens bring Peter Parker before Mysterio, who straps him into a machine which uses a combination of nausea-inducement and holography in an attempt to make him reveal the location of Dutch Mallone's loot. But Peter feigns passing out, so the aliens stick him a cell while Mysterio forumulates a new plan. He sends the aliens to the Restwell Nursing Home to kidnap Debra Whitman, who has just finished giving a statement on Peter's abduction to the police.

Meanwhile, Peter changes into Spider-Man and escapes from his cell to explore the aliens' "spaceship". He soon realizes the whole place is merely an elaborate set, and the aliens themselves are men in disguise. When our hero sees that Mysterio has Debra as his prisoner, he uses Mysterio's own technology to confuse the villain with holograms. Debra escapes her captor and Spider-Man swings in to finish off Mysterio and the "aliens". He then returns to his cell and changes back into Peter Parker just in time for Debra to release him.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Ben Sean | Editor: Dennis O'Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Still holding the Smuggler with one hand and unable to reload his web-shooters, Spider-Man decides to walk his prisoner to the police. But first he checks on the Smuggler's men, who have recovered from last issue's fight and are lying in wait to ambush the wall-crawler. Alerted by his spider-sense, our hero pushes the Smuggler into the room first, and he is K.O.d by his own men. Spider-Man then takes the goons out and finally reloads his webbing. After webbing up the Smuggler's men, Spider-Man leaves with the villain and hops a ride on the nearest train back to Manhattan. But the Smuggler gets loose and another brief fight breaks out, culminating in the villain being electrocuted into unconsciousness by the third rail. A bystander calls for the police, and Spider-Man finally heads home.

The next day, Peter Parker and Debra Whitman meet Aunt May and her fiance, Nathan Lubensky, at the Restwell Nursing Home. The group goes out to lunch, but their meal is interrupted by a group of surly waiters. Peter removes one of the men's life-like masks to reveal that they are actually aliens. The aliens declare that they are after the treasure of Dutch Mallone, and Peter says that only he knows where it is. The aliens abduct Peter, bringing him aboard their spacecraft, where our hero is confronted by their new ally -- Mysterio.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I made a joke about this in my review of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #48, then I decided I might as well get it out of my system. My most profound and profuse apologies to Ron Frenz and Marie Severin, whose artwork I shamelessly traced, and doubtlessly brutalized, in the process.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Drawings & Story: J. Scott Campbell | Story & Script: Andy Hartnell
Inks: Alex Garner, Richard Friend, Sandra Hope, Scott Williams, Tom McWeeney, Tim Townsend, Art Thibert | Colors: Guy Major, Justin Ponsor, Ben Dimagmaliw, Joe Chiodo, Martin Jimenez, David Baron
Lettering: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Dave Lanphear and Wes Abbott
Editor: Scott Dunbier | Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

The DANGER GIRL PREVIEW, an eight-page teaser for the regular series, was released with a cover date of December, 1997. It was my first year of college. The series' final issue, #7, was dated February, 2001. My senior year. I distinctly remember being flabbergasted whenever a new issue showed up in my pull box at the local comic book shop back then. DANGER GIRL was my first real foray into something outside the realms of Marvel and DC, as I had passed on the Image Exodus of the early nineties. And it's not an exaggeration to declare that DANGER GIRL soured me on venturing beyond that safe zone provided by the Big Two. I found the series entertaining and the artwork fantastic, but the delays made it impossible for me to remember what happened between issues. And I value entertainment produced on a timely schedule more than work delayed for any reason, be it laziness or the desire for perfection.

So my DANGER GIRL comics sat, stored away and unread, for years. I eventually dug them out one day and read them in one sitting, to find that the story is surprisingly coherent. Campbell and Hartnell must have had their arc worked out from the start, because when read in succession, without months-long delays between issues, everything holds together.

But the thing that really surprised me upon re-reading is that the story isn't just coherent -- it's also pretty good!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Jim Mooney | Inker: Bruce Patterson
Letterer: Rick Parker | Colorist: Ken Feduniewicz | Editor: Denny O'Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Saturday afternoon at Empire State Univerisity, Peter Parker has trouble concentrating on grading papers. When fellow teaching assistant Phil Chang spots him in the office, Phil takes Peter out for a day on the town. But Phil soon spots Tommy Li, a member of the White Dragon gang, which Spider-Man had supposedly shut down some time before. Suspecting Tommy is up to something, Peter and Phil pursue him. But when Tommy hops into a van and drives away, Peter ditches Phil, changes to Spider-Man, and gives chase.

The wall-crawler loses Tommy in the Holland Tunnel, but later that evening tracks him down at the White Dragons' old hideout, where he has gone to ground. Spider-Man forces Tommy to lead him to his new gang, a group headed by "The Smuggler", a super-strong, super-durable criminal. Spider-Man takes out the Smuggler's gang and then battles the villain himself, eventually winning. But as our hero attempts to web up the Smuggler, his web-shooters run dry and he is left holding his foe by one strand of webbing, unable to reload one-handed.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Marie Severin | Inker: Bruce Patterson
Letterer: Rick Parker | Colorist: Ben Sean | Editor: Denny O'Neil
Funeral Arranger: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man manages to smash his way out of Belladonna's trap, but finds that she is not on the other side of the glass porthole as he had believed -- it was only a video screen with which he was speaking. The Prowler attempts to kill Spider-Man, but Belladonna's monitor explodes, wounding the villain. Spider-Man turns the Prowler over to the police and heads home. Soon after, the Prowler escapes from Bellevue Hospital and sets out to find Belladonna.

The next day, Peter Parker heads to a property manager's office and learns that the loft where Belladonna's trap was set is leased to Desiree Vaughn-Pope. Spider-Man heads to Desiree's apartment but finds her sister Narda in residence instead. After he explains to Narda that he believes her sister to be Belladonna, Narda tells the web-slinger that Desiree is on her way to Roderick Kingsley's office for a meeting. Worried that Belladonna will strike again, Spider-Man departs immediately.

However as soon as he has left, Narda reveals that she is actually Belladonna, and calls Kingsley to tell him Spider-Man has joined forces with her and is en route to kill him. She then orders her men to meet her at their hideout for a new assignment. Spider-Man soon drops into Kingsley's loft, and the forewarned designer guns him down. Meanwhile, Narda heads for her hideout, but is trailed by the Prowler. She attempts to pay him off, but he prepares to kill her anyway before escaping with her money. Spider-Man arrives and saves her, having used a dummy in a fake costume to trick Kingsley, then takes out her men when they arrive moments later. Narda and the Prowler are arrested and Spider-Man departs, considering that perhaps he's actually won for a change.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


In my DANGER GIRL/G.I. JOE review last year, I said:

"Danger Girl has been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me since it first appeared, back when I was in college. It was the only series from the Cliffhanger imprint that I picked up, and I guess I made the right choice because I seem to recall it was the only Cliffhanger series to reach its conclusion (even if it did take something like two years to get those seven issues). The series is not high art, though it has never pretended to be. It's simply the comic book equivalent of a big, dumb summer popcorn blockbuster, which is something you just want to read once in a while."

Now I'm about to put this assessment to the test. I'm going to spend ten consecutive Fridays looking at ten DANGER GIRL mini-series and one-shots, to decide if they're actually big and dumb, or if perhaps there's more there. The series I'll be reviewing are:
  • DANGER GIRL (1998)

Friday, June 6, 2014


Script: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Penciler: Khari Evans | Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colorist: Christina Strain | Letterer: Artmonkeys' Dave Lanphear
Assistant Editor: Nathan Cosby | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada | Publisher: Dan Buckley

The first three issues have titles. The remaining three don't. The final issue is also missing credits! In a way, these production peculiarities symbolize the unevenness of the entire series. It starts out strong -- Palmiotti and Gray have given Colleen Wing and Misty Knight a new profession. Their company is still called Nightwing Restorations, but rather than being simple private detectives, they now work as bail bondswomen for the super-powered criminals of New York. It's a pretty neat idea; after all, assuming there aren't different laws for supervillains in the Marvel Universe, one would figure the lower level types who only do things like breaking and entering and robbing banks probably would be able to get out on bail after an arrest.

The story follows Colleen and Misty chasing down four criminals who have skipped out on their bonds and joined forces to carry out a robbery. Their target is Celia Ricadonna, a media and fashion mogul who, we are told, rivals Oprah in both popularity and net worth. But she's also a major player in the underworld, and has come into a posession of a computer virus which she plans to auction off to the highest bidder for billions of dollars.

And that's when the story goes irrecoverably off the rails.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Marie Severin
Inks & Letters: Bruce Patterson | Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Dennis O'Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Peter Parker is out with Deb Whitman when he sees a news report implicating Spider-Man in a robbery/murder at a luxury apartment in the Powers Arms apartment building. After seeing Deb off, Peter heads to the scene of the crime. Using his Daily Globe press credentials to get in, he learns that the burglar surprised the apartment's owner and killed her bodyguard as he escaped. The police find webbing on the roof, the remnants of Peter's makeshift backpack left only moments before when he arrived at the building, leading them to further believe Spider-Man's guilt.

Peter, however, thinks the clues add up to his one-time rival, the Prowler, and heads to the apartment of Hobie Brown, the man behind the Prowler's mask. But Hobie declares he has sworn off costumed activity. He tries to show Spider-Man that he has mothballed his outfit and gear, but his storage locker has been robbed. The next night, realizing a new Prowler is on the loose, Spider-Man combs the city in search of his quarry. He soon falls into a trap in the garment district, where the new Prowler lures the web-slinger into a sealed, gas-filled room prepared by his employer, Belladonna -- who promptly closes the door on both Spider-Man and Prowler.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Mike Zeck | Inker: Bruce Patterson
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Petra Goldberg | Editor: Denny O'Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Cobra escapes from Ryker's Island on a stormy night. The next day, Barney Bushkin of the Daily Globe assigns Peter Parker to get some photos of the villain in action. Uncertain how to track Cobra down, Peter simply changes to Spider-Man and swings across the city that night, and eventually comes across his quarry robbing a jewelry store. The web-slinger and the Cobra duel on the rooftops and Spider-Man emerges victorious. But no sooner does he turn the villain over to the authorities, than Cobra escapes into the night.

The Sub-Plots: This issue features a return to classic Spider-Man sub-plot form. Peter attempts to make amends with Deb Whitman following a failed date in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and they agree to dinner the next night at Wesner's Pub. Then, their group one teaching assistant short, Peter is given his own cubicle after sharing one with Steve Hopkins for some time. Soon after, another T.A., Marcy Kane, shows up for work with her hair inexplicably tied up in a scarf, piquing the curiosity of Peter, Steve, and fellow T.A. Phil Chang.

Also, Peter briefly reflects that Barney Bushkin is, in a way, worse than Jonah Jameson as an editor -- and notes that the Daily Globe is a much less reputable newspaper than the Daily Bugle. Both these thoughts are presumably meant as set-up for Peter's impending return to the Bugle in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Hardcover, 2014. Collects 1980-1982's UNCANNY X-MEN #132 - 153, UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #4 & 5, AVENGERS ANNUAL #10, MARVEL FANFARE #1 - 4, material from MARVEL TREASURY EDITION #26 & 27, MARVEL TEAM-UP #100, BIZARRE ADVENTURES #27, and PHOENIX: THE UNTOLD STORY #1

A while back, when I listed by Top Twelve Comic Book Runs of All Time, UNCANNY X-MEN #94 - 176 made the number one slot. And since this book contains issues 132 - 153, I can't complain about what's between the covers... much. The inclusion of annuals and bonus content like AVENGERS ANNUAL #10, MARVEL FANFARE #1 - 4, and various short stories from BIZARRE ADVENTURES, MARVEL TREASURY EDITION, and MARVEL TEAM-UP are much appreciated -- in particular the Nightcrawler story from BIZARRE and the Storm/Black Panther adventure from TEAM-UP -- neither of which, to my knowledge, have been collected before (outside of the ESSENTIALS format for the latter, at least). The book also contains the letter columns from all included issues, which is always a nice touch.

However there is one glaring absence among these supplementary tales. I don't clamor for every little guest appearance to be included in these books. I don't like the flow of the main narrative to be interrupted that much. But I would argue that the X-Men's appearance in SPIDER-WOMAN issues 37 and 38 are integral to the group's continuity and would fit nicely among the issues presented here. That two-parter is written by Chris Claremont, the X-Men's regular writer, and is a direct lead-in to UNCANNY X-MEN #148, presented herein. It features X-villains Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy, and introduces Banshee's daughter, Siryn, to whom Banshee is introduced in 148. The story's exclusion from this book is an utter, inexcusable shame.