Monday, March 30, 2015


Writer: Marv Wolfman | Layout Artist: Keith Pollard
Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal | Letterers: John Costanza & Todd Klein (#36 assist)
Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: Sarah Simms' ex-boyfriend, Mark, accosts her on the street. When a police officer attempts to break it up, Mark grabs the cop's gun and escapes with Sarah into a nearby store. As police surround the building, Sarah manages to contact Titans' Tower. Cyborg, Raven, and Changeling respond immediately. After Cyborg is shot in the shoulder, Changeling infiltrates the building but is unable to reason with Mark. Raven next enters and begins to negotiate as Cyborg tries a new route through the roof. In the end Mark surrenders after Raven and Cyborg talk him down.

My Thoughts: Geez; George Pérez must've been under a deadline crunch or something! THE NEW TEEN TITANS has skipped a month, jumping from August to October. In my experience, this sort of thing was unheard of in the eighties -- at least at Marvel. I would assume it was similar for DC. Anyway, now we have a fill-in artist for two installments, leading me to the above assumption that Pérez was responsible for the delay.

Anyway -- when Mark popped up, he appeared to be Cyborg's romantic rival for Sarah. Now it turns out he was just an extremely unstable guy with abandonment issues. I wouldn't have minded if there'd been more to him than met the eye, but not this. The issue feels like a sub-par episode of a prime-time cop show, rather than another soap operatic issue of THE NEW TEEN TITANS. And with this plotline now complete, it seems painfully clear that Mark was little more than a wrench created by Wolfman and Pérez to artificially delay the Cyborg/Sarah relationship.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


So it seems that following this year's "Secret Wars" event, the Marvel Universe is going to be somewhat rebooted, with the Ultimate continuity integrating into the existing Marvel backstory. I don't know how they're going to do it and really, I'm not all that interested. But the idea got me thinking, as I'm sure we all have from time to time, about what I would do if I had complete control over the Marvel Universe. If I could just blow everything up and start it all over again, what would the landscape look like? What titles would be published and which would get the axe?

Now remember, this is my fantasy; a magical world where profits, sales quotas, and corporate overlords don't matter. It is, simply, my idea of an ideal Marvel publishing schedule for me, and it's naturally based strongly on my own nostalgia, which is a weird mish-mash of eighties and nineties Marvel with some minor aspects of the sixties, seventies, and modern day.

If I rebooted the Marvel Universe, my premise would be fairly simple: the Silver Age and much of the Bronze Age happened pretty much exactly as we all remember. It is now, in Marvel Time, about eight to ten years since the first superheroes, the Fantastic Four, debuted.

Friday, March 27, 2015


The MARVEL SPOTLIGHT stories were published in 1976. The HULK! magazine stories, which we’ll begin to cover next time, came out in 1978. But from 1977 – 1979, Moon Knight had a handful of appearances in other series, chronicled by writers other than his creator, Doug Moench. In a nutshell, these are those tales:

DEFENDERS #47 - 50
Writer: David Kraft | Penciler: Keith Giffen | Editor: Archie Goodwin

Co-Plot: Roger Slifer (#47) | Script: John Warner (#47)
Inks: Klaus Janson (#47 & 51), Dan Green (#48), Mike Royer (#49),
Keith Giffen w/Mike Royer, John Tartaglione, & Dave Cockrum (#50)
Letters: John Costanza (#47 & 50), Annette Kawecki (#48),
Irving Watanabe & Mike Royer (#49), Bruce Patterson (#51)
Colors: David Kraft (#48-49), Don Warfield (#50), Phil Rache (#51)

The Plot: Moon Knight becomes involved with the Defenders as they attempt to rescue their friend, Jack Norriss, from the clutches of the villainous Scorpio.

My Thoughts: I haven't read much by David Kraft, but I have at least read his run on the original SAVAGE SHE-HULK series. These issues read nothing like SHE-HULK, so I'm guessing that perhaps Kraft is emulating the style of previous DEFENDERS writers here (I've never read any of DEFENDERS outside of these five issues). The story is dark, the script is ponderous and the dialogue is occasionally unnatural. The characters, good and bad alike, all seem very disenfranchised with the world and even depressed and generally unhappy. This isn't typical Marvel "soap opera"-style angst -- it's the adventures of a bunch of mopey sad sacks. These are not fun comics, and I doubt I'll ever read them again.

(Also, what's with all the weird references to beer strewn throughout these issues?)

Artistically, Keith Giffen performs an acceptable Jack Kirby impression, but his work looks best when inked by Klaus Janson in a more traditional style. Also, Giffen seems to have misinterpreted Moon Knight’s ability to glide on his cape as the power of flight, showing him zooming around an enclosed room alongside Nighthawk several times.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Writer: Marv Wolfman | Artists: George Pérez & Pablo Marcos
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

Note: This issue does not have credits in THE NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS volume 2. The above credits are pulled from the DC wiki.

The Plot: D.A. Chase and his family are rushed to the hospital, but Chase's wife and children perish. Robin vows to get Anthony Scarapelli for the murders. Meanwhile, Scarapelli finds himself on the outs with the mob's Donna Omicidio due to the public nature of his assassination attempt. Scarapelli requests aid from a criminal "referral agent" called the Monitor.

Robin finds himself handcuffed by a restraining order from Scarapelli after his invasion of the mobster's home, so the rest of the Titans rough up Scarapelli's various illegitimate enterprises. The Monitor sends a group of assassins to lure the Titans into a trap, but the heroes escape. During the skirmish, two of the assassins are killed by a mysterious figure. Kid Flash is injured, but Raven -- who had been away from the Titans for much of the recent action -- returns to heal him.

Soon after, Scarapelli heads to a meeting with Donna Omicidio, but sends a group of battle suited warriors to kill her. While the Titans fight these troops, Scarapelli escapes to his home. But he's cornered by a costumed man calling himself the Vigilante. Vigilante has Scarapelli at his mercy and unmasks himself as D.A. Chase. Robin appears to talk Chase out of murdering Scarapelli, but when Scarapelli pulls a gun on the pair, Chase kills him and escapes.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: Todd Klein | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

Note: This issue does not have credits in THE NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS volume 2. The above credits are pulled from the DC wiki.

The Plot: At his apartment in Manhattan, Deathstroke discusses his next plan with his manservant, Wintergreen. Meanwhile, the Titans throw a sixteenth birthday party for Terra. She believes she has proved herself to them and asks why they don't trust her with their identities and other secrets. As Wonder Girl leaves to go see Terry, Kid Flash informs her that he plans to quit the Titans.

Meanwhile, Robin and D.A. Chase fight through Anthony Scarapelli's men and arrest Scarapelli on a warrant for possession of illegal firearms. Elsewhere, Deathstroke kidnaps a stockbroker while Wonder Girl accepts Terry's proposal, but asks for time to learn about her past before the wedding. Sarah Simms calls Titans' Tower for Cyborg, but he has no interest in talking to her. At her apartment, she kicks her "fiancé" Mark out, as she called off their engagement a year before but he won't let her go.

Deathstroke calls Titans' Tower and tells Changeling to surrender the Titans to him or he will kill the broker. But Terra knocks Changeling out and goes to face Deathstroke on her own in Manhattan. The Titans follow and in the end, it is Terra who gets the better of Deathstroke. But the villain apparently blows himself up rather than be captured. In the aftermath of the fight, the Titans officially welcome Terra as a worthy member.

Later, Terra goes to the tenament where she had been held by terrorists and meets Deathstroke. The entire fight was part of his plan to plant her among the Titans as a mole. Meanwhile, Robin argues with Chase over his obsessive methods and leaves in a huff. But as he prepares to drive away, he sees a bomb detonate far above in Chase's apartment.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


No "Unboxing" for March. For the first month in a long while (like, years), I received nothing new in the mail! So instead, let's take an in-depth look at a book I received last month: Marvel's STAR WARS: THE ORIGINAL MARVEL YEARS OMNIBUS, volume 1.

I've never read Marvel's STAR WARS series, but I've wanted to check it out for years. I missed Dark Horse's original trade paperbacks, as they came out long before I became a collected editions fiend. Dark Horse later did their own "Omnibus" versions of the series in a group of five volumes, and I considered picking them up many times, but I could never bring myself to do it since they were printed in a little tiny trim size smaller than the original comic book dimensions. I never understand this. I know many comic book readers have fond memories of digests from their younger days, but I've never been on board with that format. Even as a kid I thought it was silly to shrink a comic book down to a smaller size. The art becomes tiny and cramped-looking and the letters are harder to read. I'll go a little bit smaller than the original dimensions, say for reading a comic on my iPad -- which I love -- but anything beyond that is a non-starter for me.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Writer: Doug Moench | Artist: Don Perlin
Letterers: Irving Watanabe (#28) & Debra James (#29) | Colorist: Irene Vartanoff
Editor: Marv Wolfman

The Plot: (issue 28) Moon Knight thwarts a break-in in Manhattan, unaware that the thieves are a group of corrupt police working to frame the mayor for a man named Mr. Quinn, a.k.a. Conquer-Lord. A pair of cops find their defeated fellows and, unaware of their dishonest proclivities, believe Moon Knight has turned against the police.

After a run-in with the honest cops, Moon Knight begins to investigate the break-in further and learns that Quinn is looking to install his own puppet mayor via the upcoming election. Moon Knight changes to his secret identity of millionaire Steven Grant and, with his secretary Marlene, heads to a ball at the mayor’s mansion. But Conquer-Lord shows up as well. Grant changes to Moon Knight, but the villain uses Marlene as a hostage and escapes. Seconds later, a servant announces that the mayor has been shot.

(issue 29) Medics arrive to tend to the mayor, who was tagged by a stray bullet when Moon Knight thwarted Conquer-Lord’s assassination attempt. Frenchie flies Moon Knight back to Steven Grant’s mansion, where Grant finds his new valet, Merkins, spying on him for Conquer-Lord. Grant allows Merkins to escape, then follows him to Conquer-Lord’s hideout, where the villain has Marlene in a death trap. Moon Knight enters the building, takes out Conquer-Lord’s men, and defeats the villain himself, rescuing Marlene.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: Ben Oda | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

Note: These issues do not have credits in THE NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS volume 2. The above credits are pulled from the DC wiki.

The Plot: In St. Louis, a pair of young men named Tavis and Gan -- a.k.a. Thunder and Loghtning -- wreak havoc on a neighborhood as they search for someone. Meanwhile, the Titans return to Titans' Tower following their adventure in Zandia. Robin immediately departs, leaving the rest of the group to unwind. Speedy leaves as well, to return to his anti-drug organization, while Frances invites Kid Flash to quit the Titans and return home with her.

Later, Thunder ad Lightning are cornered by the U.S. military. Speedy gets wind of their confrontation and informs the Titans. Sans Robin, the group heads to St. Louis, where they learn that the young men are looking for an Army lieutenant named Walter Williams. A brief skirmish ensues, ending with Thunder and Lightning pausing to recap their origin as the children of Williams and a Vietnamese woman. Born Siamese twins, they were separated and grew up with superpowers.

Following this tale, an army officer appears, informing Thunder and Lightning that Williams last resided in a fishing village in Maine. Thunder and Lightning immediately depart for the village, but are chased by the Titans. There they fight again, and the Titans are victorious. Wonder Girl, having made a side trip to Wasington D.C., arrives and reports that Williams' home was destroyed recently and no bodies were found.

Believing themselves near death due to their powers, Thunder and Lightning surrender. At Cyborg's suggestion, they're taken to S.T.A.R. Labs for stabilization. Meanwhile, Wonder Girl reports to the Titans that Williams was actually a military scientist, and that she believes he is still alive.

Monday, March 16, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: Ben Oda | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

Note: These issues do not have credits in THE NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS volume 2. The above credits are pulled from the DC wiki.

The Plot: (issue 30) It is New Year's Eve. Raven has disappeared following the Brotherhood of Evil's attack on Titans' Tower, leaving Kid Flash, Speedy, and Frances to discuss the situation. But the Brotherhood members come around, trounce the trio, and escape to search for Raven.

Meanwhile, Changeling and Terra are at the apartment where Terra was held by her terrorist blackmailers. She changes into a new costume and asks to join the Titans. Elsewhere, Robin, Starfire, and D.A. Chase meet with Bethany Snow, who informs them that Brother Blood is trying to rig an upcoming congressional election -- however, unbeknownst to the group, she shares this info at Blood's order, and an "assassination attempt" on her life ensues that the trio believes her.

Cyborg goes to Sarah Simms' apartment for a New Year's party, but meets her fiancée, Mark Wright. Their awkward moment is interrupted when the Titans call Cyborg for help. He returns to the Tower, where the group is working to locate Raven and the Beotherhood. Raven, meanwhile, has encountered the villains at a church, and fled to Times' Square. The Titans catch sight of her on television and move to her aid.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


A couple weeks ago, STAR WARS: REBELS aired its season finale on Disney XD, and I can officially declare that I'm hooked. It's been a while since a new series -- especially a new animated series -- has caught and held my attention so dramatically. Last October, when the show premiered, I gave my initial impressions. In short, I felt it had promise but I was uncertain about some of the creative choices and I didn't think the animation lived up to that of its predecessor, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS.

Well, most of those concerns have been addressed as of the season finale. I'll state up front that the animation still looks too simplistic to me. CLONE WARS set an extremely high bar which REBELS hasn't even come close to yet -- and I've since learned that part of the reason is REBELS having a much smaller budget than did CLONE WARS. Say what you will about George Lucas, but by most accounts he treated every arc of CLONE WARS like a small-scale feature film, and budgeted accordingly. I assume Disney simply looks at REBELS as just another weekly cartoon series. So if the producers are doing the best they can with what they've got, I must reluctantly give them a pass on the animation.

Friday, March 13, 2015


Writer: Doug Moench | Artists: Don Perlin & Howie Perlin
Letterers: Ray Holloway (#32) & Debra James (#33)
Colorists: Phil Rache (#32) & George Roussos (#33) | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: (issue 32) In Northern California, the werewolf, Jack Russell, is beaten within an inch of his life by the mysterious costumed Moon Knight. As they struggle, Russell flashes back to the chain of events which led him to this moment. Then, once more in the present, Moon Knight’s pilot Frenchie kidnaps Russell’s girlfriend and sister, while Moon Knight knocks the werewolf unconscious.

(issue 33) The werewolf comes around as Moon Knight ferries him back to the Committee, and another fight breaks out. But the sun rises and the werewolf reverts to Jack Russell, allowing Moon Knight to defeat him again. That night, the Committee observes Russell’s transformation into the werewolf and pays Moon Knight for his services. But Moon Knight takes pity on the werewolf and sets him free, and the pair takes out the Committee members. Moon Knight observes from a rooftop as the werewolf wanders away.

Continuity Notes: As this is the werewolf’s series, there are several references to his ongoing sub-plots to be found. Last issue he nearly killed a little girl and mauled his best friend, Buck, into a coma. Meanwhile, a Detective Northrop is on the way to Haiti with a lead on tracking down an ex-werewolf named Raymond Coker. And in Haiti, Coker, on the trail of a pack of zuvembies, is directed by a voodoo witch to seek out Jericho Drumm, a.k.a. Brother Voodoo. Also, apparently Jack’s girlfriend, Topaz, has latent psychic powers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

Note: These issues do not have credits in THE NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS volume 2. I don't know if DC used the files from a trade paperback reprint that had previously omitted them or what, but this sort of thing is par for the course for the DC collected editions department. The above credits are pulled from the DC wiki.

The Plot: Changeling is on Terra's trail, having spent days chasing her. Meanwhile, in Zandia, the Brotherhood of Evil enters Brother Blood's Cathedral of Death to stage a coup. Back in New York, Starfire and Robin spend some time together while Wonder Girl goes to visit Terry Long, but meets his unfriendly ex-wife at his apartment. Elsewhere, Changeling finally captures Terra.

Back at Titans' Tower, Terra explains to Changeling, Kid Flash, Raven, and Cyborg that her father and stepmother, sovereigns of another nation, have been kidnapped by terrorists. She and her brother Brion set out to find the villains, but were separated. Terra eventually tracked them down but was blackmailed into committing crimes in order to keep them alive. The Titans agree to go with Terra to her meeting with the terrorists.

The group heads for a subway yard in Long Island, where they fight the terrorists. The villains' leader claims that Terra's parents have been killed, which sends her into a rage. Changeling attempts to comfort her, while Raven believes something is amiss about the girl.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterers: Ben Oda (#26) & Todd Klein (#27) | Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: (issue 26) The Titans return to Earth, and Robin admits to Starfire that he loves her. Weeks pass as the group members resume their lives. Meanwhile, around the country, several teenagers run away from home under varying circumstances. Then, one night while out for a date, Dick Grayson and "Cory Anders" (Starfire) witness a young junkie accost District Attorney Adrian Chase for money before retreating and getting run down by a truck.

Elsewhere, Changeling is on monitor duty when he picks up an incident at the Statue of Liberty and moves to investigate. There he fights a girl named Terra, babbling about an assignment from "them" to destroy the statue. Before Changeling can capture her, Terra escapes.

Later, Raven -- back in college -- befriends a young street walker and takes her to Cyborg for help. The duo then brings the girl to a runaway shelter where they bump into D.A. Chase. He recruits the Titans to investigate the local end of an international drug ring which plans to use runaways to transport their narcotics through the city. The Titans agree to help and return to Cyborg's apartment, where they find a young man bleeding on the carpet.

Sunday, March 8, 2015


In 1999, Marvel published a Moon Knight limited series entitled HIGH STRANGENESS (though the covers of all four issues mistakenly billed it as “HIGH STRANGERS”). The story was published weekly and I was in college at the time, branching out a bit in my Marvel reading, so I grabbed issue 1. I know I had heard of Moon Knight, but I really knew next to nothing about him. I liked his costume, though, and the series was drawn by Mark Texeira, an artist I appreciated.

Well, I was hooked immediately on the character as written in that story by his creator, Doug Moench. The funny thing is that now, having not read the mini-series in over a decade, I don’t really even remember the plot. But I fell for the trappings of Moon Knight more than the story: he’s an ex-soldier of fortune turned wealthy playboy with numerous secret identities, he resides in a sprawling mansion with his beautiful live-in girlfriend Marlene and his confidante/pilot, a fellow ex-merc named Frenchie, and he goes out at night in his stealth chopper to fight crime as the Moon’s Knight of Vengeance, to atone for his dark past.

In short, the guy is awesome.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artists: Adam Archer, Steven Cummings, Horacio Domingues, Ted Naifeh,
Eduardo Francisco, Andres Ponce, & Ruben Gonzalez
Colorists: Randy Mayor, Wes Hartman, & Adam Archer | Letterer: Wes Abbott

Like volume 2, this third installment of AME-COMI GIRLS opens with a large-scale threat uniting all the characters, followed by some smaller pieces. This time the major villainess is Sinestra. Armed with her yellow and black power rings and an army of Black Lanterns, she invades first the planet Thanagar and then proceeds to Earth. Alana Strange, a scientist/adventuress from the planet Rann, rescues Shyera "Hawkgirl" Hol from Thanagar and together they recruit Earth'e heroines to oppose Sinestra.

The womens' ace in the hole is Metra, the first of a race of "New Gods", who arms the entire group with white power rings to combat Sinestra. They do their best but aren't a match for their foe, dropping one by one to her Black Lanterns, and it is Metra's direct intervention which saves the day in the end as she reveals that Sinestra is possessed by the Black Hand, and reborths both halves of this evil as twin planets of light and darkness.

First off -- White Lanterns? Black Lanterns? I know -- it sounds silly, but here in this alternate universe story, completely unrelated to actual DC continuity, it's a fun little diversion. Let's just hope nobody ever reads this story and gets the asinine idea to insert a spectrum of Lantern colors into the mainstream DCU! That would be... dopey, I guess, to say the least.

(This concludes the scathing sarcastic commentary portion of our post.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: Ben Oda | Colorist: Carl Gafford | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: On Okaara, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Raven, and the Omega Men defend the imprisoned goddess X'hal from the Citadel forces. Meanwhile, aboard a Citadel ship overhead, Cyborg saves Changeling from the slavers holding a gun on him. Cyborg, Robin, and Changeling hijack the ship, using one slaver as a guide, and head for the Citadel's homeworld to find Starfire.

Meanwhile, during the fight on Okaara, Raven is nearly overcome by the darkness in her soul, but manages to pull herself together. Subsequently, X'hal orders the battle to an end and departs to turn herself over to the Citadel.

Robin, Cyborg, and Changeling reach the Citadel planet and infiltrate the slavers' temple. But one of the Omega Men, Demonia, has stowed away on their ship and reveals herself to the Citadel's leader, Damyn, pledging to serve him and informing him of the Titans' presence.

Robin and the others locate Starfire, along with Damyn, Blackfire, and X'hal, now imprisoned. Believing Starfire dead, Robin flies into a rage and attacks. Cyborg takes Damyn hostage in an attempt to end the fight, but Blackfire kills her leader to claim his title as her own. She then orders Robin, Changeling, and Cyborg taken into custody alongside Starfire.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal
Letterers: Ben Oda (#23) & Todd Klein (#24) | Colorist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: While the Titans speak with the District Attorney about their assault on Baron Blood, Blackfire arrives in orbit of Earth and sends her slavers to attack New York. Starfire is captured and the aliens escape, but the Titans capture one of their ships. Using it with the long-dormant ship that brought Starfire to Earth, the Titans head into space to rescue their teammate.

But no sooner do they board Blackfire's ship, than her defenses get the best of them, and she jettisons them into space before leaving Earth's solar system. The Titans are rescued, however, by Superman, who is aboard the Justice League's satellite headquarters. But when Robin urges the Man of Steel to head out and stop Blackfire's escape, he admits that he can't, as he's recently suffered a drastic decrease in power.

My Thoughts: The story continues organically from the Brother Blood chapters, as we pick up with the Titans in voluntary custody for their meeting with the D.A. We also learn that Bethany Snow, an antagonistic reporter introduced last issue, is a member of Blood's church and seems to be running a deliberate smear campaign against the Titans.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Over the course of three years, DC released more than sixty issues of Marv Wolfman's and George Pérez's classic NEW TEEN TITANS in a set of three Omnibus volumes. The books are huge and sturdy, with a very attractive trade dress and interior design. The blue used for the dustjackets is also featured prominently throughout all three volumes, giving them a lovely uniformity. Outside and in, these books are very nicely assemble packages.

But where I'm concerned, it seems there almost always has to be a negative. In the case of these books, that comes in the form of the binding. These books feature glued, rather than sewn binding. Marvel has been utilizing sewn binding the vast majority of their hardcovers for years now, but DC has yet to catch on. And when you're dealing with books this thick, glued binding can be a real detriment to the reading experience. The pages don't separate apart at the gutters, leading to occasional loss of artwork and/or text, especially as the series progresses and Pérez begins experimenting with full-bleed artwork. And of course, any two-page spread suffers due to the glued binding as well.