Friday, October 31, 2014


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Guido Guidi | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Shawn Lee | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: The battle on Cybertron rages. Bludgeon's men depart the Warworld to join the Blitz Engines on the surface, leaving Bludgeon alone aboard ship. The Wreckers infiltrate the Warworld to get to Thunderwing's shell, but Bludgeon takes them out. He is about to kill Kup when Rodimus Prime appears and hurls him from the ship.

Meanwhile, Grimlock comes around and leads the Dinobots and proto-Transformers to the surface, where they help turn the tide against Bludgeon's forces. At the same time, Starscream and Shockwave attack the Warworld with the Ark, taking it out. Elsewhere, Omega Supreme defeats the Decepticon Monstructor, while Blaster beats Soundwave.

Cybertron is saved, but Rodimus Prime worries about new threats looming.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Pencil Breakdowns: John Romita, Jr. | Finishes: Brett Breeding
Letters: Diana Albers | Colors: Bob Sharen | Editor: Bob DeNatale
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man battles Thunderball, eventually defeating him by luring him into an electrical substation and using his body to close a high-voltage circuit.

The Sub-Plots: None to be found in either of this issue's stories.

Continuity Notes: Thunderball tells Spider-Man that he received his powers from an Asgardian Norn Queen. The wall-crawler, despite having met Thor numerous times at this point, believes the story to be "hooey".

Thunderball recalls the origin of the Wrecking Crew in DEFENDERS #18, and notes that he's been uncharacteristically weak lately, as seen in IRON MAN #171.

The Spider's Web: Assistant Editor Bob DeNatale provides a brief column on the genesis of these "Assistant Editor's Month" stories. Then readers react to Peter's decision to leave graduate school in issue #243. And one fan asks if John Romita, Jr.'s recent appointment as penciler of X-MEN will affect his work on Spider-Man, resulting in a statement that Romita will simply have both series on his regular schedule. Liars!!

Also On Sale This Month: "Assistant Editors' Month" hits PETER PARKER #86 with a story written totally straight, but drawn in the cartoony style of Fred Hembeck -- then Spider-Man takes a break from MARVEL TEAM-UP to allow Aunt May and Galactus to headline the title.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Breakdowns: John Romita, Jr. | Finishes: John Romita, Sr.
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editors: Danny Fingeroth & Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man visits "Nose" Norton to see if he can scare up some information on the Hobgoblin's whereabouts. Norton claims to know nothing, but the web-slinger plants a spider-tracer on his hat and, following dinner with Aunt May and Anna Watson as Peter Parker, our hero trails Norton to Brooklyn, where the stool pigeon sells a trombone case to a group of thugs taking orders from a man they call "Doc". Spider-Man is discovered watching the men and leaps into action against them. When Doc displays superhuman strength, the wall-crawler believes he has finally found the Hobgoblin. But the untimely arrival of Spider-Man's would-be sidekick, Frog-Man, allows the criminals to escape.

Later, Peter develops photos from his automatic camera and gets a look at a map Doc had been showing his men in preparation for an armored car heist. The next day, Spider-Man takes the Long Island Railroad to the heist location, but arrives moments too late. He attends to an ailing armored car guard, then followed the criminals' tire tracks to a nearby garage. There, Doc reveals the item he and his men have stolen is not, as he had claimed, gold, but a crowbar. When Spider-Man shows up, Doc sheds his lab coat, dons a mask, and produces a wrecking ball from a nearby crate, revealing himself to be Thunderball of the villainous Wrecking Crew.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Been a long time since I posted a nice hyperbole-laden rant here, so let's get right to it:

Since joining Marvel Unlimited, I've reviewed a few modern Marvel comics, the most recent being 2012's WOLVERINE AND THE BLACK CAT: CLAWS II, last month. As always, I typed out the issues' credits at the start of the post. For CLAWS II, the credits read like this:

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray | Artist: Joseph Michael Linsner
Colorists: Dan Brown & Nick Filardi with Ian Hannin | Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry
Production: Maya Gutierrez | Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor-in-Chief: Axel Alonso | Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine

Does this look wrong to anyone else? The creative team is encapsulated entirely on two lines, followed by three lines of editorial, production, and, most mystifying of all, executive titles! This is insane. Compare the above credits with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #236, from earlier that same week:

Friday, October 24, 2014


Writer: Simon Furman
Art: Casey Coller, Geoff Senior, Jeff Anderson, José Delbo, Nick Roche
Inker: Stephen Baskerville (p. 7 - 16) | Colorist: John-Paul Bove
Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: Sent into "Zero Space" by Primus, Hot Rod witnesses key events in the Transformers' history, across more than one timeline. First he sees a group of Autobots on Earth, led by Optimus Prime in his PowerMaster form, battling a Creation Matrix-spawned creature called the Deathbringer. Next he is sent millions of years into Cybertron's past, where he witnesses Jhiaxus steal the secrets of the Underbase and erase all records and memories of his own existence from Cybertronian history. Then on Earth once more, Hot Rod views the beginning of Megatron's campaign against the human race.

Finally, in a parallel timeline, Hot Rod sees himself, as Rodimus Prime, battling Galvatron on the Planet of Junk, amid the corpses of his fellow Autobots. Rodimus is destroyed and the Matrix flung from his body. Hot Rod touches it and then materializes on Cybertron as Rodimus Prime, just in time to challenge Bludgeon.

G1 Continuity: Lots of it here! The Deathbringer was part of a throwaway flashback in one of Furman's Marvel issues. The actual story behind the flashback was published in the U.K. comics. But since those events do not exist in this timeline, Furman has repurposed the scene here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Al Milgrom | Inker: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Christie Scheele | Editor: Mark Gruenwald
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Lava Men return to their home underground, after securing a promise from Project: Pegasus security chief O'Brien that the magma tap which disturbed them will be moved. However, four supervillains -- Moonstone, Blackout, Electro, and the Rhino -- are loose within Pegasus. The villains attempt to seize control of the facility, but the Avengers and Spider-Man stop them. Moonstone and Blackout escape, but not before Moonstone disrupts the Project's reactor, sending it into a critical meltdown. Captain Marvel, immune to the radiation by virtue of her light-based powers, enters the reactor core and, with Spider-Man walking her through the process, averts the catastrophe.

Later, back at Avengers Mansion, Earth's mightiest heroes agree to take Spider-Man on as a junior trainee. But when the ask their government liaison, Sikorsky, for clearance, he vetoes the idea, stating that the government has "a file on him that's a yard long." Spider-Man decides that an Avengers membership may not have been up his alley anyway, and departs.

The Sub-Plots: Spider-Man is still pining over the Avengers' $1,000 a week salary. Later, during the fight, the Scarlet Witch disables Electro by using her hex powers to cut off his oxygen, an unexpectedly brutal move which stuns Captain America. Also, at Avengers Mansion, the Witch reminds readers that her husband is injured, though she doesn't refer to him by name.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Breakdowns: Al Milgrom | Finisher: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Janice Chiang | Colorist: Carl Gafford | Editor: Mark Gruenwald
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man breaks into Avengers Mansion to demonstrate his skill as a potential Avenger. But the group has little interest in his grandstanding and sends him packing as a priority alarm sounds. Outside the mansion, Spider-Man hitches a ride on the Avengers' departing quinjet and reveals himself when the heroes arrive at Project: Pegasus in upstate New York. Spider-Man helps Captain America, She-Hulk, and Starfox battle a group of rampaging Lava Men. Ultimately the fight ends when the Wasp and the Scarlet Witch arrive with Captain Marvel, who the Lava Men believe is their goddess. The Lava Men explain that their underground realm was pierced by Pegasus's magma tap, and the Avengers apologize.

Meanwhile, Captain Marvel's energy emissions have allowed the villainous Blackout to free himself from imprisonment within a device under study by the Pegasus scientists. Blackout teams up with fellow Pegasus inmate Moonstone, and together the duo springs Electro and the Rhino as well, and Moonstone prepares the villains to seize control of the Project's nuclear research dome.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


This month two books from Marvel find their way to my hands. First up is the MOON KNIGHT EPIC COLLECTION: BAD MOON RISING. I'm a big fan of Moon Knight. I was aware of the character peripherally for years, but first gave him a try with the 1999 limited series, "High Strangeness". I loved it and quickly went on a quest for all the Moon Knight back issue appearances I could track down. This Epic Collection contains the character's earliest appearances by his creator Doug Moench, along with Bill Sienkiewicz handling most of the artwork. These are some of the best Moon Knight stories ever published and I'm happy to own them.

We also have X-MEN: THE ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS AND PHOENIX, collecting a trio of limited series from the nineties. I avoided the original ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS AND PHOENIX when it was released, Gene Ha's artwork being a huge turn-off for me at the time. So I look forward to finally reading exactly what happened to Scott Summers and Jean Grey on their honeymoon, after reading about it for so many years.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Guido Guidi | Inker: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Shawn Lee | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: Against the backdrop of an invasion of Cybertron by Bludgeon's Blitz Engines, Ultra Magnus battles Galvatron. It appears both are destroyed by a blast from the Warworld, but Magnus emerges alive with a disabled Galvatron in his arms.

Meanwhile, Hot Rod is thrown into another realm by Primus, speaking via Grimlock's body. Following Hot Rod's disappearance, Grimlock collapses.

Elsewhere, Prowl releases Omega Supreme to defend Cybertron, while Blaster confronts Soundwave.

G1 Continuity: Two great epithets are tossed out this issue: Prowl says, "By the seven smelting pools of Straxus!" and Ultra Magnus exclaims, "Great God Ginrai!" Straxus was a character from Bob Budiansky's TRANSFORMERS run, and the smelting pools were where he melted down his enemies. God Ginrai is the Japanese name for the character we Americans know as PowerMaster Optimus Prime.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: John Romita, Jr. | Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editors: Tom DeFalco & Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Still recovering in the hospital, the Black Cat daydreams that she is healthy and going into action alongside Spider-Man to liberate important documents from an embassy in Manhattan. The couple then turns the papers over to a government contact, who pays $500,000 for them. Afterward, Spider-Man takes the Cat for a spin in his yacht and unmasks himself as Cary Grant. She comes back to her senses after falling out of her hospital bed during the fantasy.

Elsewhere, Jonah Jameson wanders through the Daily Bugle printing press room, lost in thought. He imagines that Spider-Man arrives to taunt him. Jameson beats the wall-crawler senseless while Lance Bannon and Peter Parker photograph the entire incident. Marla Madison arrives to embrace Jameson as the latest edition of the Bugle comes off the presses. Jameson, reverted to a younger, heartier age, proudly reads the headline praising him for his defeat of Spider-Man. He then drifts wistfully back to reality.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane is on a date in the theater district when she imagines herself as the star of a Broadway show based upon her own life. But when her sister, Gayle, appears with her two children and declares that she had always wanted to be an actress, Mary Jane snaps out of her daydream and returns to her date.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Dave Simons
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man begins his hunt for Lefty Donovan by speaking with District Attorney Blake Tower, but the D.A. is uncooperative. The wall-crawler next tries looking for info on Donovan at the Daily Bugle, but strikes out again. Finally, after additional weeks of searching, he visits Detective Lieutenant Lou Snyder, who provides Spider-Man with Donovan's file.

Meanwhile, a mysterious figure has completed Norman Osborn's strength formula, but it explodes in his face. He recuperates in the hospital while Spider-Man conducts his search, and then, after sneaking out and stealing a car, he heads for the Hobgoblin's former mansion on Long Island and enters a secret basement, where he dons the goblin's costume and heads for Times Square to get Spider-Man's attention at the same time the web-slinger is visiting Snyder.

Snyder informs Spider-Man of the Hobgoblin's rampage and the wall-crawler heads out to meet him. The goblin's strength gives him an unexpected edge, but Spider-Man soon regains the upper hand. He unmasks the Hobgoblin to find Lefty Donovan's face underneath, but just as Donovan is about to reveal the identity of the true Hobgoblin, his jet glider locks onto his feet and takes off, crashing him into a wall.

As the paramedics mop up, Spider-Man realizes that Donovan was simply a decoy, and the real Hobgoblin is still out there. And the Hobgoblin himself watches the news footage of Donovan's death, pleased that his guinea pig provided him with enough data to hopefully duplicate Osborn's formula again, this time without the resultant explosion.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


If you'll allow me to gush for a moment: There are days that I still can't believe I'm able to listen to this music. Getting a score album from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES was a pipe dream for me when I was in my teens. By the time I turned fifteen years old, I had been watching the show regularly for about two years and, along with the engrossing visual style and dramatic scripts and voiceover performances, I had fallen in love with the program's musical score.

Shortly after my fifteenth birthday, BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM was released to theaters in the U.S., with an accompanying soundtrack album. I grabbed that soundtrack before I'd even seen the film, simply to get some of the ANIMATED SERIES-style music to listen to. At last I could hear, unencumbered by dialogue and sound effects, the great Shirley Walker's Batman theme (more befitting the character, in my opinion, than Danny Elfman's iconic contribution to the 1989 movie -- which of course also served as the main title theme for B:TAS), as well as snippets of the Joker's comically twisted music, both weaved into a wonderful full-length movie score. For fifteen years, that was the only BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES music available to me, and I played it often -- but still I wished for some scores from the actual episodes, which were nearer and dearer to me than the film.

Friday, October 10, 2014


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

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: Bludgeon meditates en route to Cybertron, revealing that he knows he will die in the impending battle, but he's comfortable with his fate. Meanwhile, Kup and the Wreckers invade the headquarters of Soundwave's Neo-Decepticons to find it deserted and booby-trapped.

Aboard the Ark, Starscream and Shockwave stage a mutiny and jettison Galvatron into space. He attempts to re-board the craft, but it escapes after "brushing" the early warning system the Autobots have set up in place of the intercomm.

Beneath Cybertron's surface, Hot Rod and the Dinobots find Primus's chamber and are confronted by Grimlock, speaking with Primus's voice.

Meanwhile, Bludgeon's Warworld arrives to attack Cybertron, while Galvatron reaches the planet as well and assaults Ultra Magnus.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Klaus Janson
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Osborn Industries' corporate headquarters in Manhattan is the victim of an armed robbery by a group of thugs. Spider-Man gets wind of this and investigates, sneaking into the local police precinct to learn that the culprits were after assorted chemicals. When a call comes in about another robbery in progress at a waterfront Osborn warehouse, Spider-Man heads that way to challenge the robbers. But the goons' leader, watching from a nearby truck, sets the warehouse ablaze with a pumpkin bomb. Spider-Man rescues the robbers and turns them over to the police, then pursues the truck but finds it empty, its occupant having switched to a smaller van to escape.

Returning to the docks, Spider-Man gets the escaped ringleader's name -- Lefty Donovan -- and realizes that he must be the Hobgoblin. However, Donovan returns to the Hobgoblin's headquarters on Long Island, where the villain, still recovering from his initial bout with Spider-Man, greets him and reveals that the chemicals Donovan has acquired will endow him with the same physical strength possessed by the original Green Goblin.

The Sub-Plots: Peter goes through with his decision to take a leave of absence from the Empire State University graduate program, spending a long morning waiting in lines and getting signatures on his paperwork (these are the "ordeals" to which the issue's title refers). Before signing off, Professor Sloan tries to change Peter's mind, but when his student refuses to budge, Sloan thinks to himself that it's unlikely he will ever see Peter again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Spider-Man guest-stars in three pages of AVENGERS #235, reproduced below for your reading pleasure.

Writer: Roger Stern | Breakdowns: Bob Budiansky | Inker: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: Christie Scheele | Editor: Mark Gruenwald
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot Excerpt: She-Hulk is out jogging while listening to the Beach Boys when she gets into an altercation with a motorist. Spider-Man breaks up the confrontation and then, as She-Hulk jogs on, she casually mentions that she is paid $1,000 a week to be an Avenger. Spider-Man is dumbstruck by this revelation.

The Sub-Plots: Technically this entire scene is a sub-plot to lead into the next two issues of AVENGERS. So:

Sub-Sub-Plots: She-Hulk is getting tired of living in Avengers Mansion and wants to find her own apartment in Manhattan. She also misses the beaches of Southern California.

Continuity Notes: Spider-Man last encountered She-Hulk at the Avengers' meeting with Captain Marvel in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #16. He also turned down an invitation to become an Avenger in AVENGERS #221.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Story by: Roger Stern | Art by: John Romita, Jr. & Dave Simons
Letters by: Diana Albers | Coloring: Bob Sharen | Edited by: Tom DeFalco
Overseen by: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man pays a visit to Dr. Curt Connors at Empire State University to analyze the fragment he grabbed from the Mad Thinker's android. Unfortunately, Connors is able to provide no answers. Afterward, the web-slinger patrols the city, takes out a group of terrorists who have seized a church, and eventually returns to ESU to inform his lab partner, Roger Hochberg, that he has decided to quit graduate school.

The Sub-Plots: If that main plot description seems a bit thin, it's because this is pretty much a sub-plot-centric issue, as Stern catches up on various aspects of Peter Parker's life. First off, the Amy Powell storyline finally comes to its close. After several issues of Amy toying with Peter to make Lance Bannon jealous, Amy storms out of Peter's apartment when Mary Jane Watson barges in. Lance pursues Amy and the couple eventually reconciles over coffee, finally admitting to one another that they are in love at that the games they've played have gone on long enough.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


STAR WARS: REBELS, the new animated series from LucasFilm, premiered this past Friday on the Disney Channel with an hourlong event, after being first available through Disney's Disney XD app. The ongoing series will move to the Disney XD channel on October 13th.
I checked out the inaugural episode via the app last weekend and typed this up to coincide with the series premiere. But first let me note that I was an avowed fan of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, the series which, over its six seasons, showed us more of the STAR WARS universe than we had ever seen on screen in the preceding 35-plus years. CLONE WARS was visually gorgeous and evolved over time to feature some surprisingly mature writing; so REBELS has some big shoes to fill in my estimation.

That said, here are my first impressions of the series:

Friday, October 3, 2014


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, Optimus Prime proposes to the human alliance that they move their people to Nebulos, currently recovering from Scorponok's rule, so that both species might heal together.

On Cybertron, Blaster senses something amiss in the intercomm that links all Transformers on the planet. Soundwave, back on Cybertron in advance of Bludgeon's attack, detects Blaster's presence and sends a force to kill him in the holding chamber where he and other Autobots are still recovering from Nucleon poisoning. The Autobots defeat these Decepticons and reveal the intercomm's compromise to Prowl, who shuts it down. Unfortunately this takes Cybertron's sensors offline as well, leaving it vulnerable to the approaching Bludgeon... and Galvatron.

Meanwhile, beneath Cybertron's surface, Hot Rod and the Dinobots continue their search for the proto-Transformers.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Since my review of the SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES soundtrack album is one of the most-visited posts here, I thought I should spread the word that the wonderful people at La La Land Records are releasing a third volume in their series of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES albums. They've released full details, as they usually do for these things, via the World's Finest site.

I'll be ordering this must-buy item on minute one next Tuesday, so I hope to have it my hands by Friday, as is normally the case when I order something from La La Land. Assuming that happens, I'll try to post an article about it on Sunday.

I'm excited!

More DC Animated soundtracks from La La Land Records:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Scripter: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Kevin Dzuban
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Mad Thinker, incarcerated in a maximum security prison, projects his consciousness into an android body at his hidden lair and learns that Spider-Man recently fought a rogue robot from one of his laboratories. The Thinker, having heard rumors of the wall-crawler's spider-sense, sends another robot to his normal stomping grounds to test him.

The robot attacks Spider-Man as he blows off some steam at the East Side Con Edison plant. The automaton unleashes weapon after weapon against Spider-Man, but he avoids every assault and eventually defeats the robot by tricking it into dropping a pair of huge generators on itself. Spider-Man grabs a small fragment of the robot's shell and heads home.

The Sub-Plots: Peter heads to Empire State University to see if he passed his final exam. While there, Professor Sloan reminds Peter that he needs at least an 80% on the test to stay in the graduate program, then informs him that the tests are not yet graded.