Monday, August 31, 2015


Stan Lee presents: SPIDEY and the WASP -- together!

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Don Warfield | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: Equinox gloats over Yellowjacket’s death as Spider-Man, Wasp, and the police look on. Wasp assaults Equinox but is rebuffed, then she and Spider-Man go to speak with his mother, Margay. Equinox follows and the group retreats to the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building for help in changing the villain back to normal. Along the way, Margay describes Equinox’s origin.

Wasp’s Avengers ID card gains the group entrance to the Baxter Building, but the Fantastic Four are away. Meanwhile, Equinox rampages through Manhattan, his actions leading indirectly to a Midtown blackout. Spider-Man and Margay make it into the FF’s lab, but Wasp is separated from them when the Baxter Building’s backup generators kick in, activating an automated defense system.

While an inexplicably more powerful than normal Wasp battles the Baxter Building’s defenses, Spider-Man and Margay rig up a harness which attaches to Margay’s blaster to amplify her potential cure. Equinox arrives in the Baxter Building and attacks, but Yellowjacket appears as well soon after. Together, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Spider-Man, and Margay cure Equinox. Then, while the rest of the group leaves, Spider-Man remains behind to clean up after the fight.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Only one item this time around, but at least it's topical: The POWER MAN AND IRON FIST EPIC COLLECTION VOLUME 1: HEROES FOR HIRE has arrived, and not a moment too soon, as the first three issues in this book, POWER MAN #48 - 50, will slot into the ongoing IRON FIST/MARVEL TEAM-UP review series in just about a month or so.

But beyond that immediate concern, this is a series I've had some interest in for many years. I like Iron Fist, as has been made clear over the past couple months, and I've never read any of his adventures beyond the afore-mentioned POWER MAN 48 - 50, which rounded out the old ESSENTIAL IRON FIST book. But I know the POWER MAN AND IRON FIST series is pretty well regarded as a cult classic, and it has a good pedigree of writers all the way through, from Mary Jo Duffy to Kurt Busiek to James "Christopher Priest" Owsley. I hope to see Marvel fast-track future installments in this series, as they seem to be doing with MOON KNIGHT, since it would only take about three more volumes to cover the full series.

That's it for August. September will be pretty light as well, but it'll at least include one thing I've been waiting a very, very long time for.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Featuring the Work of: Jo Chen, Julian Choy, Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz, Marshall Dillon,
James Ghio, Espen Grundetjern, Edwin Huang, Takeshi Miyazawa, Joe Ng, Ludwig Olimba,
Gonzalo "Genzoman" Ondonez Arias, Rob "Robaato" Porter, Kevin Raganit,
Arnold Tsang, Ken Siu-Chong, Hanzo Steinbach, Long Vo, Jim Zub
Chief of Operations: Erik Ko | Managing Editor: Matt Moylan
Project Manager: Jim Zubkavich

SUPER STREET FIGHTER volume 2 leads off with a really weird short story in which Akuma and Gouken duel as they discuss Ryu's recent challenges, and Akuma reveals his plans to use Sakura to unlock Ryu's dark potential. Buuut... isn't Gouken dead? Is this fight occurring in the afterlife or something? If so, does Akuma have the ability to teleport back and forth between the realms of the living and dead, a la DRAGONBALL Z's Son Goku? It's maddeningly unclear, and never gets explained in the rest of the book.

The second leadoff story, chronicling the Secret Society's absorption of STREET FIGHTER IV's S.I.N. organization, is at least a bit more satisfying from a continuity standpoint, as it reveals that in the years since Bison's tournament (remember, SFII TURBO and SFIV took place concurrently), with Shadaloo dissolved, S.I.N. has been operating autonomously -- until Bison, the Secret Society's envoy, arrives to take back the organization he founded for the Society's leader, Gill. I enjoy when these STREET FIGHTER comics acknowledge their own continuity trails, so I like to point out when it happens.

The majority of the remaining backup stories are inconsequential filler, chronicling a meeting between Ken, his apprentice Sean, and Chun-Li in Hong Kong; a goofy tale of Dan Hibiki's daily life, and a wrestling Match between Rainbow Mika and Hugo's manager, Poison. Then the final backup gives us a bit of backstory on the Secret Society and explains how Gill became their leader, taking his rival, Urien, as his second-in-command.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


The Canadian Rockies, west of Calgary

Gunshots! Loud, staccato explosions shattering the silence of the mid-winter night

…And then, a scream!

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Annette Kawecki | Colorist: Janice Cohen | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: Iron Fist and Colleen Wing flee across the Canadian tundra from a pair of mercenaries. Colleen is injured, but Iron Fist gets her to safety then flashes back to New York, where he was recently ambushed by someone very familiar with his past. Then, in Canada, he and Colleen find a weather shack and hide out.

Iron Fist flashes back again, to Colleen inviting him to Canada to help her guard Jeryn Hogarth, but when they arrived at his estate they found him the prisoner of a mercenary named Sabre-Tooth. Sabre-Tooth’s men chased the duo away from Hogarth’s grounds and into the story’s opening page.

Back in the present, another pair of mercenaries arrives looking for Iron Fist and Colleen. They subdue this pair and take their uniforms, then return to Hogarth’s estate. While Colleen frees Hogarth’s staff and destroys Sabre-Tooth’s helicopter, Iron Fist rescues Hogarth and has a rematch with the villain. Despite a sudden case of snow-blindness, Iron Fist is victorious and Sabre-Tooth is captured.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Stan Lee presents: SPIDEY and the YELLOWJACKET -- together!

Writer: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker/Colorist: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Bruce Patterson | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: Web-swinging home from dinner at his Aunt May’s house, Spider-Man is ambushed by a mystery assailant with fire and ice powers. Far above the city, Hank and Jan Pym -- Yellowjacket and the Wasp of the Avengers -- are preparing for a romantic evening in their penthouse apartment when Hank spots the wall-crawler falling to his doom. Yellowjacket saves Spider-Man and he comes to in the apartment.

As Spider-Man works to piece together the identity of his assailant, the villain assaults the penthouse, revealing himself as Equinox. Spider-Man, Yellowjacket, and Wasp battle Equinox out of the apartment and down into the city, where Equinox apparently kills Yellowjacket by way of a tanker truck explosion.

Continuity Notes: In an unconscious haze following Equinox’s first attack, Spider-Man dreams about his late girlfriend, Gwen Stacy.

Equinox first appeared in MARVEL TEAM-UP #23, wherein he was defeated by Iceman and the Human Torch.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


What’s this? I haven’t finished the ongoing IRON FIST review series, but I’m announcing something new? Believe it, Marvelites! Back when I first jumped into this project, I decided to go with a double dose of vintage Claremont/Byrne when the proper moment came. See, just as their run on IRON FIST was coming to its end, Byrne joined Claremont -- already the regular writer of MARVEL TEAM-UP -- for a run on another venerable Marvel franchise: Spider-Man.

(What, you thought they did something else together in the seventies? I'm pretty sure it was just IRON FIST and MTU…)

The Claremont/Byrne TEAM-UP issues were collected in 2011 in a trade paperback titled SPIDER-MAN: MARVEL TEAM-UP, which I’ll be using for this project (along with a copy of the Marvel/Dynamite SPIDER-MAN/RED SONJA hardcover which contains MTU #79, the only issue not in the TEAM-UP collection). Beginning tomorrow, I’ll add MTU to the rotation, alternating issues with the IRON FIST installment from the corresponding month. IRON FIST isn’t long for this world, however, as it was canceled with issue 15. But Claremont and Byrne continued the Living Weapon’s story in MTU, before wrapping it up in POWER MAN issues 48 – 50, all of which we will cover here as well thanks to the POWER MAN AND IRON FIST EPIC COLLECTION volume 1.

So, bear with me, because I think this’ll be fun: Tomorrow will bring us MARVEL TEAM-UP #59 from July of 1977 (There was no IRON FIST in July, as the series was bi-monthly at this time). Then on Wednesday and next Monday we’ll see IRON FIST #14 and MTU #60, both from August of that year. The series will continue, following that model, until IRON FIST ends in a couple weeks. But not long after, those three POWER MAN issues will enter the rotation with TEAM-UP, and after they’ve run their course, the review series which started dedicated solely to IRON FIST will continue and conclude as a MARVEL TEAM-UP by Claremont & Byrne series.

(And remember, if you’re ever wondering about the cover month/year of an issue, check my tags at the bottom of the post.)

Friday, August 21, 2015


Featuring the work of: Rob Armstrong, Andres S. Blanco, Jeffrey Cruz,
Steven Cummings, Marshall Dillon, Omar Dogan, Sean Galloway,
Espen Grundetjern, Andrew Hou, Edwin Huang, Joe Ng, Gonzalo Ordonez Arias,
Chad Porter, Rob Porter, Chris Sims, Ken Siu-Chong, Arnold Tsang,
Eric Vedder, Long Vo, Jim Zub
Managing Editor: Matt Moylan | Project Manager: Jim Zubkavich
Chief of Operations: Erik Ko

Note: Though it was published prior to STREET FIGHTER ORIGINS: AKUMA, I elected to cover SUPER STREET FIGHTER volume one after, in order to keep it together with volume 2.

UDON's first original graphic novel in the STREET FIGHTER world is a real mixed bag. But before we get to a critique of the content, a quick rundown of the story:

It's four years since Bison's Street Fighter tournament ended (putting this book's publication in something resembling real time, as STREET FIGHTER II TURBO began in late 2008 and SUPER STREET FIGHTER volume one was released in early 2013). The "World Warriors" have moved on with their lives, many leaving their adventuresome careers behind.

But Guile is the first fighter drawn back into the world of martial arts intrigue when he learns a group called the Secret Society, led by the mysterious Gill, is making a play to kidnap the world's greatest martial artists as part of their plan to inherit the Earth when mankind's time passes. Guile learns from Tom, his man inside Gill's organization, that Ryu tops the list of targets, and heads for Japan. There he finds a distraught Sakura and chats with E. Honda and Dan Hibiki in search of clues. Along for the trip is Alex, Tom's foster son. Guile learns where Ryu is being held and prepares to go save him, while Sakura works to harness the power of the Dark Hadou to go after her master herself, but her interest in that art draws the attention of Akuma.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dan Adkins
Letterer: Susan Fox | Colorist: Marie Severin | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The S.S. Balaclava, a tramp freighter out of London, moored at Pier 15 on the Manhattan side of the East River.

It’s a bitter cold night, the wind brutal, as it slices off the harbor… a night any sane man would be a home, curled up with his lady love in front of a flaming hearth.

But then, who ever said super-heroes were sane?

The Plot: Iron Fist and Misty Knight arrive at the waterfront in answer to a telegram summons from Alan Cavenaugh. But they're attacked instead by the mercenary Boomerang, who knocks Iron Fist into the sea and escapes.

Meanwhile, Ward Meachum is attacked by Davos, his niece’s bodyguard. Davos orders Ward to divest himself of all interest in the Meachum Corporation, or die. Then, this task completed, Davos declares himself free of Joy’s servitude and vows to kill Iron Fist on the anniversary of his coming of age as a warrior.

Iron Fist emerges from the water and has an argument with Misty over Alan, a known terrorist. Without Misty’s help, Iron Fist tracks Alan down and fights Boomerang again. The boat belonging to Alan’s captors is blown up in the fight and while Alan and Iron Fist survive, all others appear to perish.

Continuity Notes: Boomerang previously appeared in TALES TO ASTONISH issues 81 – 84 and 86 – 88, being nearly killed by the Hulk in 88. Is it just me, or is that a long run of near-consecutive issues for a minor villain like Boomerang?

Monday, August 17, 2015


Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dan Adkins
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Don Warfield | Editor: Archie Goodwin

You are Captain America… and you are a living legend.

You are also an Avenger… and this day finds you on watch in the mansion/headquarters monitor room

The Plot: Iron Fist breaks into Avengers Mansion and has a skirmish with Captain America. After the two eventually make friends, Cap helps Iron Fist set a trap for the Wrecking Crew in the mansion’s Danger Room. Iron Fist summons the Crew inside and snags Misty from them, then he and Cap challenge the villains to a fight with the Danger Room set to “Thor level” strength. The heroes are victorious and the Wrecking Crew are carted off to prison.

Continuity Notes: The issue’s start establishes that six hours have passed since last issue. Claremont seems to have moved away from his irritating real time conceit at this point, now using a sort of hybrid between it and Marvel time, as Cap notes that it's been “over a year” since the murder of Harold Meachum (this actually occurred two and a half years back, publication-wise, at this point). But in the same breath, he mentions Iron Man fighting Iron Fist “a few months back” and Iron Fist’s role in Bill Hao’s apparent death “just this summer.”

All the above incidents are footnoted as having occurred last issue, in IRON FIST #1, in MARVEL PREMIERE 18 - 22, and in IRON FIST 9 and 10.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Here we are -- Two years to the day since my very first post and still going relatively strong. I never got around to implementing the "DC Saturdays" idea I considered in my "Year in Review" back in January, but, despite having less time to read lately, I've maintained my regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, with occasional Monday items as well.

At this exact moment, I have Monday-Wednesdays lined up through the end of September , while my Fridays are scheduled out through November. So I'm a about two months behind where I was at this time last year), owed mainly to moving houses last November and still being thrown off of my normal reading schedule. But I hope to get things back on track in the near future and keep the posts coming on a regularly scheduled basis.

And now the stats, for those who care: The number one most viewed page on this site remains the X-MEN COLLECTED EDITIONS CHART, followed in second place by my review of the INFINITY GAUNTLET OMNIBUS at two-thirds as many hits. I didn't mention a third place page last year, but this year, since I'm quite proud of the work I did on it, I'll disclose that it's the index for my Roger Stern SPIDER-MAN reviews, albeit clocking in at barely more than half the hits of the IG OMNIBUS.

As far as Google results bringing people here, that remains the same as last year: The blog's name, followed by the terms "Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus", "Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus review", etc. -- though the third place result at this point is "Spider-Man by Roger Stern Omnibus", which probably accounts for that page's jump up the traffic chart.

Another year down, then. The IRON FIST reviews will continue and -- in a week or so -- mutate into something more, so watch for that, as it takes us through most of the Fall. We'll catch up again for the New Year's year in review in early January.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Story: Chris Sarracini | Line Art: Joe Ng
Inks: Robert Armstrong & Kevin Raganit | Colors: Espen Grundetjern
Lettering: Marshall Dillon | Flats Assist: Ludwig Olimba
Project Editor: Matt Moylan | Chief of Operarions: Erik Ko

So -- Akuma. I've never quite got the appeal of this guy. He looks cool, I guess. I believe he was first introduced in one of STREET FIGHTER II's many variant games, as a hidden boss above even M. Bison. And he's appeared in a ton of games since then, to the point that he's considered a main STREET FIGHTER cast member. And, due to his apparent popularity, UDON chose him to headline the first (and so far only) STREET FIGHTER ORIGINS original graphic novel.

Published in 2013, AKUMA fills in the shared backstory of both the title character and his brother, Gouken. It begins with the men as children, living on a rice farm with their parents. In short order the farm is assaulted by a group of assassins who reveal that the boys' father was once a hired killer as well. As their father is murdered by these men, the boys escape with their mother. Gouken believes they should hide, but Akuma favors a bolder approach. He leaves their mountain hideout and is soon taken in by a dojo, where he trains under Goutetsu, the man who taught his father.

Years pass and Akuma grows restless. He leaves for Tokyo and soon after, Gouken arrives at the dojo to train with Goutetsu as well. Eventually Akuma returns and is sent to his final test, several days' meditation in the mountains where, unbeknownst to him, Gouken is undergoing the same trial. Each brother is then separately offered a chance to take revenge on the men who killed their father. Gouken refuses, having attained inner peace, but Akuma takes up the offer and razes the men's village, killing them as well as all the innocents in his path.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dan Adkins
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Don Warfield | Editor: Archie Goodwin

It’s a Monday in New York, the Big Apple sky as clear as it ever gets these days, the air brisk and cool, hinting at a winter lurking just around the corner.

Monday morning, and right off the bat, things are happening.

The Plot: Danny Rand meets Misty Knight and Colleen Wing at the Manhattan South Medical Complex. There, Misty reveals to Danny that her father has suffered severe brain damage from Angar’s mindstorm, and now lives in a haze of confusion, even believing Colleen is dead.

Danny and Misty leave Colleen to take a walk around the complex’s grounds. The Wrecking Crew appears in search of Doctor Donald Blake, a friend of Thor’s, to use as bait to lure the Thunder God into their clutches. But Misty and Iron Fist challenge the Crew instead. Meanwhile, aboard a tramp steamer en route to the U.S., Alan Cavenaugh suffers through nightmares about his past in the I.R.A. while a trio of men eavesdrop on him.

Back in New York, Thunderball captures Misty and Iron Fist is forced to bargain with the Wrecking Crew. He offers to break into Avengers Mansion for them and disable the alarms so the Crew can sneak in and wait to ambush Thor. Wrecker agrees to this plan and sends Iron Fist away on his sinister errand.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Hold it, Iron Fist!

“Make a move, an’ you’re one dead superhero!

Story by Chris Claremont | Photography & Layout by John Byrne & Dan Adkins
Color Interpretation by Bonnie Wilford | Editor: Archie Goodwin
There is no Letterer credited in this issue. attributes the letters to Irving Watanabe.

The Plot: Iron Fist is on the run from the police, accused of the murder of Bill Hao. He eventually bumps into Colleen and Misty, who, after a brief skirmish, decide that he was famed. Iron Fist spends the next week waging war against the Golden Tigers to draw Chaka out of hiding. Eventually Chaka confronts Iron Fist at Nightwing Restorations’ office, where Iron Fist finally defeats him.

In the aftermath, Bill turns up alive, having been kept hidden by Lt. Rafael Scarfe in order to give Iron Fist a legitimate vendetta against Chaka.

Continuity Notes: Early in the issue, a flashback fills us on what exactly happened following the events of last issue: the police cornered Iron Fist over “Chaka’s” body, unmasked him as Bill, and began hunting Iron Fist.

It's revealed that attorney Bill served on the staff of District Attorney Blake Tower.

Friday, August 7, 2015


Story: Ken Siu-Chong* | Pencils: Joe Ng* | Inks: Crystal Reid
Colors: Espen Grunderjern | Lettering: Marshall Dillon
Chief of Operations: Erik Ko | Managing Editor Matt Moylan

I don't know if it's Capcom's "canon" that STREET FIGHTER IV takes place concurrently with STREET FIGHTER II, but that's the route Ken Siu-Chong has gone here, and it works pretty well. It seems that while the world's eyes are focused on Bison's tournament on Shadaloo Island, as covered a few weeks ago in STREET FIGHTER II TURBO, Shadaloo's R&D division, S.I.N. (the Shadaloo Intimidation Network) is conducting its own secret operation.

S.I.N. is headed by Fifteen, another aspect of M. Bison's plan to live beyond his mortal span. Killer Bee was the first, a girl infused with Bison's DNA, awaiting the day he could transfer his consciousness into her body. Fifteen is also a spawn of the mad dictator, in this case one of several such numbered clones. He craves free will, but was programmed to serve Shadaloo unquestioningly. And here he serves by kidnapping several powerful fighters in order to drain them of any traces of the Dark Hadou in order to harness that power for Bison.

Carrying out the kidnappings is Crimson Viper, a renowned spy-for-hire. I seem to recall that at the time STREET FIGHTER IV was released, Viper seemed positioned to be the breakout character. Certainly she was all over Capcom's marketing for the game. Here she's more or less the co-headliner of the series, as we quickly learn that she's infiltrating S.I.N. on behalf of some (hopefully) more benevolent force.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Mott Street, just off Chatham Square -- near the center of that part of New York City known as Chinatown… the tourists have long since left, the shops and restaurants are shuttered for the night, the streets are silent and empty

…Save for the harshly-drawn breaths and pounding feet of one young man… who is running for his life.

It’s a deadly race, Iron Fist… and right now, you’re losing it!

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Frank Chiarmonte
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Bonnie Wilford | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: A weakened Iron Fist wanders New York, defending himself against the Golden Tigers. As he moves, he flashes back to the Meachum boardroom, where Danny Rand managed to escape the Tigers and change into Iron Fist, then returned to confront them. But the Tigers’ leader, Chaka, defeated Iron Fist.

After more action in the present, Iron Fist recalls awakening as Chaka’s prisoner. Chaka poisoned him and let him free, telling him to fight his way through all the Golden Tigers and back to Chaka, who would have the antidote. Chaka then went into an adjoining room and hypnotized his brother, Bill.

In England, Danny Rand’s friend Alan Cavenaugh joins the crew of a tramp steamer bound for the United States. And back in New York, Iron Fist catches up with Chaka and duels him. Realizing Chaka’s promise of antidote was a lie, Iron Fist subdues his enemy and uses his power to heal himself. Then, when Chaka regains his strength and attempts to kill Iron Fist, the hero knocks him away. Unbeknownst to Iron Fist, Chaka is struck by an unseen opponent just as he slams into a wall, leaving him near death. The police arrive to Find Iron Fist kneeling over Chaka’s body.

Monday, August 3, 2015


New York, New York… it used to be a nice place to live, its subway a pretty nice -- and safe thing to ride…

…And for the most part -- truth to tell -- the city still is, and its trains still are.

But there’s a time and a place for everything… just as there are places one shouldn’t visit and times one shouldn’t go…

Author: Chris Claremont | Artists: John Byrne & Dan Adkins
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bonnie Wilford | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: A street gang called the Golden Tigers accosts a group of tourists in a subway station, but Iron Fist sights them off. The gang members escape when a train arrives, distracting Iron Fist. Soon after, a young man named Bill Hao sneaks into the Tigers’ base, but is found out by one of their number.

The next morning, Joy Meachum sends Davos to investigate some of her Uncle Ward’s underhanded business practices. Elsewhere, Danny Rand meets Jeryn Hogarth and Misty Knight, and the trio heads for the Meachum Building for a meeting about getting Danny his share of the company. But the Golden Tigers choose that moment to invade the building, storming into the board room with an ultimatum for Joy.

Continuity Notes: Among the tourists in the opening scene is John Byrne, with a girl on his arm. Later, after the gang members have fled, Peter Parker is seen trying to cross the police line for photos, to the irritation of Mary Jane Watson, with whom he is on a date.