The funny thing about our trip to Ollie’s was that we bought more than one blind bag of comics, so naturally we had to do a followup to our previous endeavor. This one’s better, but you should still check out the other one. I hope you’re ready for this shit, because stuff gets… historical… this time around. Actually, I hope you AREN’T prepared. War Dancer is a comic best experienced without briefing.
Just like last time, we’re doing this shit up like a Christmas ham in February, so Frank’s stuff is going to be in three times red, and Peter’s stuff is going to be in not-a-Zaku blue.
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We now join People Yelling at Each Other: The Comic already in progress. This is part of DC’s One Year Later event, which was a stupid event chronicling the aftermath of another stupid event, Infinite Crisis. Man, I hate company-wide crossovers.
If WildC.A.Ts (or however the fuck it’s spelled) and other 90’s-era Image books are the rap rock of comics, Outsiders and the other books taking place in the angst-hole known as Bludhaven are the nu-metal. This book takes place around the Battle for Bludhaven, which is the end result of a sentient tank of radioactive chemicals going for a stroll around the city like it’s the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and then the President walling in the citizens and dispatching a militant group of America-themed superheroes to keep them inside for reasons.
Notice I haven’t really talked about the actual content of this comic. That’s because it starts with two people in gimp masks yelling at the mayor from Robocop 2, and then has a few pages of The Outsiders yelling at each other. They then attack a military base or something, and the book ends as blandly as it began. Special shout-outs to the most tasteless One Year Later ad ever, featuring Ted Kord getting SHOT IN THE FUCKING FACE.
FUNFACT: Nightwing was supposed to die during Infinite Crisis, but DC worried that readers would get upset and ditched the plan. Reading this comic made me wonder if his death would have been a better idea.
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From what I was able to gather via Google and Wikipedia, Renegade Press was born when the publishers of a bunch of comics who had a weird and incestuous relationship with early Ninja Turtles comics got divorced. Wifey took all of the titles (except Cerberus, the only one that really mattered) and started up her own company. Four years later that company went out of business. I know them as “the Flaming Carrot guys”.
This book herald’s itself as “An erroneous chronicle of the graphic story medium” (WHAT?), which I guess is a fancy way of saying “knockoff MAD magazine”. Printed for cheap in black and white, it’s essentially a bunch of bad puns and poor parodies of more interesting comics.
As my esteemed colleague said, this thing is basically a collection of really bad puns, including an attempt to make a parody of Dick Tracy. I don’t know if the people who wrote this thing realized this, but Dick Tracy is already a parody of hard-boiled detective pulp books. I assume that “Nick the Nostril” takes the route of throwing contemporary celebrities into the mix for their “parody”, but since this thing was written when I was negative five years old and I’m not putting any effort into finding out for sure, it’s going to remain a mystery.
In an interesting case of an idea cropping up in multiple places at the same time, The Phony Pages has the same Prince Valiant/Prince Valium joke that Spaceballs had.
Special shout-outs to the “For Better or For Worse” parody, which features Elly putting a gun to her head in the last panel. I’d include an image, but this thing just made me go through the effort of looking up the name of the mom from “For Better or For Worse”. Which was about seven seconds more effort than “The Phony Pages” deserved. Fuck this comic.
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Ever since receiving that shiny-covered first issue as a young boy, I’ve had a special place in my heart for the Valiant Turok comics. Coming from the simpler, pre-Acclaim times, where Mortal Kombat II and Super Street Fighter II were hot at the arcades, browsing the pages of this book makes me feel young again. The whole issue is essentially a Native-American with an assault rifle, chasing a bunch of pirates around a city (because he promised somebody’s father’s GHOST he would protect them), but the pirates are all robots and dinosaurs, and that’s metal as fuck.
I don’t want to be the guy making fun of a comic that was drawn before good comic book art was invented*, but I still have no idea what’s going on in that cover. Between Captain Red (GREAT NAME, GUYS!) having a right leg a foot longer than his left leg and Turok doing the classic Hawkeye Initiative ass-and-tits-to-camera pose all while they both do… something (Wrestling match? Team cartwheel? Tandem interpretive dance?), I can’t make heads or tails of it.
Check out this shot of Turok firing a gun out of the sewer entrance. Or, as my brain originally interpreted it, a top-down shot of Turok hiding in a toxic waste barrel.
On an interesting side note, Valiant was a very strange company. They had an interesting way of rolling out new titles via crossover, apparently. They did a big, intercompany crossover called The Chaos Effect. You could get the “Alpha” issue for free from your local comic shop. Then the next four weeks were labeled “Beta”, “Gamma”, “Delta”, and “Epsilon”, each featuring one issue of four random books under the Valiant umbrella. After that there would be an “Omega” issue of The Chaos Effect, culminating in the premier of Timewalker #1 (because the TIME is right for a new hero. Their pun, not mine.) Sound confusing? Here’s a handy chart:
I feel like it may be a fun excursion to go back and read some old Valiant comics, actually.
I definitely want to check out Magnus: Robot Fighter, which is the manliest concept ever put to page.
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Today I read lots of Image comics, and fully approve of them over Marvel’s offerings. If you had walked up to 8 year old Peter Kowalsky and told me this would be the case, I would call you a liar, and comics like this are why. I absolutely loathe WildC.A.T.s. WildC.A.T.s only exists because Jim Lee wanted to continue drawing the X-Men, and that’s all the WildC.A.T.s are: a low-budget version of the X-Men. “WildC.A.T.s” is really hard to type consistently, so I will be shortening it to “WildCats” for the remainder of this diatribe. They frequently crossed-over with Youngblood, or Rob Liefield’s fake Avengers. The basic cycle of WildCats went as thus: Fake X-Men did superhero things, uncovered a conspiracy, kicked Grifter off the team for being the only marketable guy around, got betrayed by one of their own, did a bunch of crossovers, invited Grifter back to the team, got stale, got cancelled, got rebooted, and begun anew.
Grifter is pretty rad, though, in that “appeals to 8 year old boys” kinda way. He’s essentially a cross between Gambit, Hawkeye, and the Punisher. 90’s AS FUCK!
Ah, another entry in the burgeoning genre of “Women who are so badly proportioned you can’t even jerk off to them”. This book was drawn by Jae Lee, but the art is so bad that it feels like it was drawn by Rob Liefeld.
There’s also a mail-away offer for a poster drawn by a different dude, but it still looks like it was drawn by Liefeld.
The only way that this makes sense to me is either A: Liefeld did the art on these books and then slapped the other guys’ names on it for reasons, or B: Liefeld included the hallmarks of his “style” in the Image style guide of the time so that all the books had the same shitty feel. I’m guessing B. Liefeld was an extremely prolific artist, but between running the burgeoning Image Comics Empire, putting out issues of BLOODGUN™ and BulletF.I.S.T™: The Reckoning: War of the AFTERHUMANS, and buying hats for his backwards hat collection I doubt he had the time to draw all the “art” for this book as well. The comic itself is laughably generic, and doesn’t really merit further discussion.
But yo, get at them Jim Lee Skycaps™, because Skybox doesn’t own the name “Pogs”. Who am I kidding, nobody even remembers Pogs.
OH BOY! 48 PAGES! Malibu was a weird one. You may remember them as those guys who published the really bad Street Fighter comics that we all laugh about when we have to wrote obligatory “history of fite gaems” articles for our clickbait, but they were also responsible for the nonsense of the Ultraverse. The Ultraverse came into existence during the big comic boom of the nineties, after seeing how well Image and Valiant were doing. Strangely enough, whereas Valiant and Image were founded by people who left Marvel for various reasons, the Ultraverse was eventually entirely consumed by Marvel, when they bought Malibu and folded it’s superheroes into an alternate universe. Save me some typing and google “Black September”. I’ll be here when you get back. I don’t have anything better to do.
That explains why there are some X-Men on this awkward wraparound cover. In true 90’s fashion, this three part story about the return of the Phoenix (I’m so sick of this bitch) is split into three issues (Resurrection, Genesis, and Aftermath), all with a bit ISSUE #1 slapped on their front cover. The basic gist of the story is that Phoenix is coming back to annoy me again, but this time it ends up in the Ultraverse instead of regular Marvel continuity via shenanigans, so a homeless man teleports the X-Men there for a big team up that will help sell issues of Marvel’s newest acquisition via association with Wolverine.
Being the first part of a crossover, of course we have the obligatory “two groups of good guys have a misunderstanding and duke it out before reconciling their differences” dick measuring contest. This comes in the form of Prime, who is basically DC’s Captain Marvel if he was made out of hentai goo, talking mad shit and punching wolverine for no reason. Then he’s possessed by the Phoenix Force and it takes all of Ultraforce, the X-Men, and Black Knight (why is he even here?) to stop him from rampaging.
It’s not a terrible comic, but I don’t know if that’s due to the apparent lack of Ultraforce actually being in the comic. It just kind of reads like an X-Men comic that starts kind of interesting, and then gets generic. The art does the same thing, starting off looking pretty nice and then getting exponentially worse by the midway point. This comic also explains the Bermuda Triangle for some reason, so that’s cool I guess.
More importantly, Ultraforce somehow had a cartoon when I was a kid.
I don’t have much to say about this comic that hasn’t already been covered more in-depth by m’colleague. This comic features The Nightman. No Dayman, though.
It also features the Phoenix Force possessing a dude whose power seems to be the ability to GET SWOLE on command.
The art starts out decent, but appears to degrade as the book goes on. One notable fuck up is the colorist completely forgetting to color in Storm, leading this to look like a Lady Death crossover as well.
To quote King Daddledingo: “Great job, dickhead.”
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The prize winner for longest title of this article by a longshot, THA:S:A:AP#1 opens with Asgard getting blowed the fuck up by the forces of Freedom™. I like how Tony says that the entirety of Asgard can be repaired based on the fact that he’s able to fix his armor whenever it breaks. I also like how Iron Man’s armor has teeth and angry eyes, and how Captain America is cosplaying as Archer.
The entire comic is Iron Man and Captain America getting teleported to random parts of Asgard. Tony ends up in a random field, and Cap ends up in a room full of goblins that try to kill them. Then there’s a tease for the Enchantress doing some shit to Thor, end book.
There’s also a reprint of an ancient Loki story written by Ralph Macchio (no, not that one).
When it comes to Marvel, I tend to find something that interests me for a while, before something forces me to lose interest for a couple of years. Recently that’s Secret Wars. Before that Dark Reign through Siege had me super excited, and the Heroic Age immediately killed that hype. Picking up immediately after Norman Osborn went batshit crazy and declared WAR ON ASGARD, most of this book is three assholes having an argument. How do you do that?
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Comics’ Greatest World was Dark Horse’s attempt to throw their hat into the “everyone needs a superhero shared universe” race. Seemingly more concise than Malibu’s attempt (but not really), these books all have a weird logo opposite the Company logo on their covers. Each logo represents one of four fictional cities, each full of their own heroes. Think of it as if Gotham, Metropolis, Coast, and Emerald Cities all had defining logos separating their Batmans and Green Lanterns. None of that really mattered enough to stick around, though, and was promptly dropped when CGW was transitioned into “Dark Horse Heroes”. Most of the comics launched in this line were barely able to make it past their first issue, save for a few who were lucky enough to have a crossover with Godzilla or the Predator… Then they tried it AGAIN!
When I said THA:S:A:AP#1 took the cake for longest title, I think I lied. Comic’s Greatest World #4 Featuring Catalyst: Agents of Change is definitely a longer title. This is a Dark Horse book filled with original characters, featuring jobbers like Rebel. Rebel looks like Booster Gold fucked Cyclops fucked Owen Hart, and his costume features a chest window that even Dagger would make fun of. He is literally the dumbest looking super hero I’ve seen during this whole thing, and I read a book made by Image in 1993. The art can’t even agree on the way his mullet is fucked up between panels.
The other people in this book don’t fare any better. We have a chick who looks like if Raven were a T-1000 dipped in strawberry jam, a woman who goes from wearing a puffy pirate shirt to wearing an 80’s exercise catsuit, a woman who’s costume can only be described as “Hippie Wedding Dress”, a man wearing a fisting-themed Superman outfit, and a gold robot that looks like it should be named the AnusTron 5000. They spend the comic getting the shit beaten out of them by a dude who looks like a rejected He-Man action figure. I know it seems like I’m getting lazy with this summary, but literally nothing happens in this book.
There’s also an ad for the Barb Wire comic at the end of the book. THANKS FOR THE REMINDER THAT THAT EXISTED, GUYS.
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Defiant Comics was YET ANOTHER attempt at Jim Shooter to start up his own Comic company after leaving Marvel and getting kicked out of Valiant. Marvel immediately sued him and put his company out of business.
The comic’s about some kind of Aztec space thespian who shoots lasers out of his dance moves. He beats up a redneck and some crazy chick wants to fuck him. Then he beats up some monster men and kills a small child in cold blood. All of Defiant’s comics sucked.
War Dancer is one of the ugliest comics that I’ve read today, and I’ve read a few Malibu and 90’s Image comics. Seriously.
Everything here looks like a bad acid trip, and War Dancer dresses like an idiot. I don’t know what I’m reading, I don’t want to know what I’m reading, fuck this, fuck you, I’m done. Next book.
BONUS: I get to be reminded that Spider-Man and the X-Men exists.
Cover Price: $1.95 • Comicbookrealm.com Price: $2.50 • Ebay Price: $0.99 but why would you do that to yourself?
Oh sick! ANOTHER Ultraverse comic! It’s readily apparent that the other comic was better because it was more X-Men than Ultracrap. Pre-Black September Malibu comics were seemingly THE WORST. This book is like some kind of scantily clad, genderswapped Dr. Strange, and it STILL manages to be boring! This comic has an old man in a wheelchair get hit by a Ferrari and I’m still NOT interested.
The letters page has one letter that basically says “I was very close to not buying this comic anymore, but then you changed the costume to be sexier, so now I’m more interested”, as well as an “Ask Mantra” section, where grown men could write letters to a fictional person. This makes sense in Archie’s old Sonic the Hedgehog comics because a bunch of little kids were reading them. I don’t understand how it makes sense here in the slightest.
The art in this book is really, really, really bad. I know I bitched about the Image art earlier, and that’s still bad for entirely different reasons. But that art at least looks like it had some (extremely misplaced) effort put into it, and it’s reasonably consistent. This artist has no idea how breasts work.
Mantra’s costume makes zero sense, as does this pose:
OK, I’m throwing in the towel on summarizing this one. A magic stripper fights an armored knight and another stripper, and I just don’t fucking care. And with art like this, obviously they didn’t either.
The ads at the back of the book are actually more interesting than the book itself. Apparently there’s a Swole Man™ video game on the Sega CD that we’re going to have to check out.
There’s also an ad for a very early fightstick by InterAct. Pre-MadCatz fight sticks are always both a mixed bag and an interesting piece of history. The co-branding at the bottom right corner is a little suspect, though.
Jim STARLIN is back with a brand new series that’s going to FUCK YOU RIGHT IN THE MOUTH!!!!
Welp, that’s the end of this lot. We learned a lot today. We learned that Jae Lee shouldn’t have access to pencils, we learned that Jim Shooter shouldn’t have access to anything, and we learned that a man can kick ass using only the power of dance moves and large quantities of aerosolized LSD. In closing, something something comic books, it’s 3AM, I’m going to bed.
This has been an interesting trip back to the 90’s of comics for me. It helped inspire me to research some things that I was vaguely aware of, but knew little about. Whether now possessing this knowledge is a good thing or a waste of brain function is as questionable as what was uncovered itself. The fun of blind bags is the mystery of what you’ll find inside. As our posted values show, you probably won’t find anything valuable, but you will hopefully find something baffling.