The Rob Cypher Google News

Loading...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What If Vol. 2 - #1-8 (1989 issues)

Yeah, I know I'm a little irregular with the updates. Bear with me.

I begin my review of "What If Vol. 2", mainly year by year (sometimes split up into
mini-series arcs as well). Reviews are briefer because I'm trying to cut
back on the spoilers.


#1 (July 1989) - "What If The Avengers Had Lost The Evolutionary War?"

Rather muddled entry about the effects of a "genetic bomb", the outcome of
which makes one wonder why it was a good thing the Avengers had won that
war in the first place. D



#2 (August 1989) - "What If Daredevil Killed The Kingpin?"

Daredevil kills Kingpin (by somehow sneaking a gun pass security with x-ray scanners),
then goes crazy. Eh. C



#3 (September 1989) - "What If Steve Rogers Had Refused To Give Up Being Captain America?"

Steve Rogers refuses to give up being Captain (in the regular Marvel universe he gave it up
for a while under government request, only to return when his replacement got out of control).
It's not a bad story even though it uses President Reagan in an odd sort of "deus ex machina" way. B



#4 (October 1989) - "What If The Alien Costume Had Possessed Spider-Man?""

Spider-Man gets "hooked" on the Venom symbiote and refuses to part with it. This issue is odd in
how it classifies Venom as a "parasite" instead of a "symbiote"; and the resultant story details
conflict with future revelations of the Venom-style symbiotes' natures. B-



#5 (November 1989) - "What If The Vision Had Destroyed The Avengers (and Wonder Man Hadn't Died)?"

Vision never becomes a good guy. Title is misleading because he doesn't really destroy the
Avengers, and with a few exceptions the timeline seems to not deviate too much from established history. C



#6 ([mid] November 1989) - "What If The X-Men Lost Inferno?"

Pretty good What-If for a change, with lots of good guys turned bad due to demonic posession. A



#7 (December 1989) - "What If Wolverine Was An Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.?"

Wolverine joins the US government agency SHIELD instead of the X-Men. Pretty average stuff. C



#8 ([mid] December 1989) - "What If Iron Man Lost The Armor Wars?"

Iron Man is unable to stop his recently stolen technology from wrecking havoc and is brought
under "control" himself by one of his foes. It's passable, I guess. C+

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wolverine Vol. 3 - #66-72, Wolverine Giant-Size Old Man Logan [Wolverine: Old Man Logan mini-series]

Time to make up for my absence with a review. This story arc is set in an alternate dimension where the "Acts of Vengeance" storyline from 1989-1990 ended with the supervillians slaying the vast majority of superheroes. During that alternate dystopic ending, something (rather improbable even given the explanation, IMO) really traumatic happens to Wolverine, making him abandon his superhero identity and becoming a pacifist. In the future, the USA is ruled by supervillains who have each taken a large swath of the country under their control. A blind and ancient Hawkeye hires Wolverine to help him escort a package from California to Washington, DC, partly to help Wolverine pay the rent so the inbred kin of the Hulk doesn't kill his family.

The art is good, and the scenery interesting; but some of the stuff is short on logic, and the idea that anything could shock Wolverine (who has killed numerous people in rages before, not to mention having false memories of such incidents planted in his head) into being a pacifist is kinda ridiculous, IMO. Seems to me that when this sort of thing happened in the past he went animalistic for a while, not squeamish.

It's worth a read, but I wouldn't go out of my way to pick it up. C+

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ex Machina series (Book 1-5, #1-50)

In a first, I review a non-Marvel comic book series! In this case, it's "Ex Machina", written by Brian K. Vaughan (creator of the "Y: The Last Man" comic book, as well as a writer for the TV show "Lost") for Wildstorm Comics (a subsidiary of DC Comics).

A man named Mitchell Hundred mysteriously gains superpowers (to control all machines with his voice) and ends up as Mayor of New York City after saving one of the twin towers during the 9/11
attacks of 2001. The series mostly concentrates on his political career, but frequently flashbacks to his "superhero" past as well. Interestingly, for a while he's the only superpowered human on the planet, until others begin to show up with similar powers (but concentrated on other things, like nature). It's interesting for a while, but begins to fizzle out in the latter half of the series, especially with the "parallel universes" storylines, which should be interesting but isn't quite (although there's an amusing sequence where one man reveals "Reagan's son" is President in his world, not "Dubya". I guess he's referring to Michael Reagan, since Ron Jr. was never popular with his dad or the GOP).

The constant "is he or isn't he gay" subplot of the series is never really resolved either, which I find odd since in the series he legalizes gay marriage in NYC 9 years before "our world" and has an openly gay deputy mayor, among other things. Not a big deal, but it almost seems
like the gay subplot exists just to suck in the "alternative comic" crowd.

C+




Thursday, July 7, 2011

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills

A deviation from the "What If" reviews, but seeing as how most of Vol. 2 has not been assembled into TPB form, I'm going to hold off on reviewing that series for a moment until I figure out an organized way of doing so. Anyway, this was originally published in graphic novel version (not regular comic book form) under the "Marvel Graphic Novel" series that ran between 1982-1993. This, in particular, is novel #5. It's considered a classic among many 80s X-Men fans, but IMO it has not aged so well over time. It definitely covers the "social" aspect of the series well (dealing with discrimination/racism/etc) but the villain comes off as a bit over the top - especially when it comes to his origins. X-Men regular Chris Claremont wrote this during the rise of the American "moral majority" era (1982), to provide some context to the story. The art is questionable, but that's because the original artist had to quit shortly after he began work on the comic due to contractual obligations, and his replacement was less than capable, it appears.

I know lots of X-fanboys cite this story as one of their top 20 or so X-Men plots, but to me it's a bit overwrought. C

(Parts of this comic [and the main villain] were used in the plotline to the movie sequel of "X-Men" called "X2", but quite a few details were changed due to chronological issues within the movie storyline.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What If? Classic Collection Vol. 7 (What If Vol. 1 #40-#47)

#40 (Aug 1983): Dr. Strange doesn't become the Sorcerer Supreme by a quirk of timing, instead
his traditional foe Baron Mordo does. Strange goes on to teach medicine due to his injured
hands. Mordo plays the "good guy" role for a while until he betrays his teacher "The Ancient One" to a demon called Nightmare, who teams up with another demon nammed Dormannu to conquer
the (alternate) "Earth dimension". Strange somehow manages to summon up his raw powers to
defeat both Mordo and the demons anyway, and then it all turns out to be a dream (according
to the last panel). Not interesting at all. D

#41 (Oct 1983): The Sub-Mariner stops the destruction of Atlantis during the 1950s by a
(mutant?) telepath wielding the Serpent Crown, which allowed him to control minds. (In the
normal "616" timeline he succeeds, causing a dispora of Atlantians for about 20 or
so years.) Namor's cousin manages to take over Atlantis while Namor is away and frames
him for the murder of his grandfather, the Emperor. Namor goes into exile for a while
but eventually comes back when aquatic barbarians then take over Atlantis. However, he
comes a little too late and the survivors of these events decide to abandon Atlantis,
leaving Namor to rule an empty kingdom. Eh. C-

#42 (Dec 1983): Sue Richards dies during her first pregnancy because the (other three)
members of Fantastic Four don't come back fast enough from the Negative Zone with a
device to stabilize her internal cosmic energies, or something. A crazed Reed Richards
goes back into the Negative Zone to commit a suicide attack on its ruler Annihulus,
and despite the best efforts of the Torch, Thing, and (oddly enough) the Sub-Mariner, he
succeeds. Lots of funeral montages during the issue. Melodramatic mush. D+

#43 (Feb 1984): Conan The Barbarian gets stuck in the 1980s for some reason. He becomes a
master criminal and eventually takes over a black gang (!), becoming its leader. Then he
has a showdown with Captain America. Very strange (yet mildly entertaining) story. The
B-story involves a dimension where the Ultimate Nullifer was used to destroy the universe;
only Dr. Strange, the Silver Surfer, and Phoenix remain due to being exiled beforehand.
The "spirit of the universe" appears when they try to reverse the Nullifer's effects and
begs them not to bring it back to life. Only the B-story appears in the Marvel TPB, as
Conan's copyright is currently being used somewhere else. C+ (B-story alone is just a C-.)

#44 (Apr 1984): Captain America is never found by the Sub-Mariner or the Avengers. After
Nixon visits China, an outraged anti-Communist working in a government lab frees the
"second" Captain America and Bucky out of their cryogenic freeze (they were a 1950s
version who had to be put away in suspension by the government after they got out of
control). This Captain uses his influence to help create an "America First Party" that
takes over the country and enacts apartheid conditions. The real Captain is then found
by a Navy submarine crew. This Steve Rodgers then goes after the fake Captain (who's
working under several supervillains under the guise of "fighting Communists") and defeats
him on TV, with the help of a fugitive Nick Fury and Spider-Man. At the end, everyone
pledges allegience to the American flag. Kinda odd but interesting too. C+

#45 (Jun 1984): Hulk is more berserk than usual after being "created", goes on a killing
spree that ends up killing Iron Man, the Thing and the Human Torch. Thor manages to snap
his neck after a fight to the death. Eh. (Original cover is pretty nice, though.) C

#46 (Aug 1984): Spider-Man's Aunt May was killed instead of Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben manages
to figure out Spider-Man's identity early on and helps "coach" him on life decisions. He
ends up revealing Spider-Man's identity to J. Jonah Jameson to stop the Daily Bugle's
media attacks on him, but JJJ instead talks him into allowing the Press to cynically
use the "Is Spider-Man A Villain" headlines to sell papers, while boosting Peter Parker's
salary to a "decent" wage. The Green Goblin figures out that JJJ knows Spider-Man
personally and kidnaps him to extract the truth, but JJJ's recently superpowered son
(from exposure to radiation as an astronaut) kills him in a berzerk rage, then almost
kills JJJ too until Spider-Man saves his life. Again, eh. C-

#47 (Oct 1984): Loki kills Thor in his human form before he can get his mystical hammer.
Odin thinks Hela (goddess of the underworld) is at fault, so he wastes a lot of time and
forces attacking her until he realizes the truth. Meanwhile, Thor exists as a spirit in
the nicer part of the underworld until an Asgardian girl he liked sacrifices her life to
bring him back (along with his hammer). Then he goes and kicks Loki's ass. The sum result
of all of this? Odin loses an eye. Not much a final issue for the first volume of "What If?". D

Overall: Another mediocre collection of stories. I can see why this version of the series
was canceled before issue #50. Oh well...C-

That's it for the Vol. 1 series! Vol. 2 (which is longer but not collected so well in
Marvel's TPBs) may or may not be next.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Movie Review: CRACK HOUSE (1989)

(yeah, I know this isn't really related to the other reviews I've put on this site.
Oh well. It was originally posted on 3/29/09 on my old Livejournal blog.)

Starring: Jim Brown, Richard "Shaft" Roundtree

Wow. This LA-based B-flick definitely has roots in the "blaxplotiation" genre,
but with lots of hispanics too. Two teenagers in love have their lives shattered
by the drug wars flaring in Los Angeles. Lots of stereotypical gang crap, but
the movie really takes off into crazyland when Jim Brown shows up as a badass
drug dealer who likes to beat his women. Quentin Tarentino often recommends
this movie as a "modern comedy classic", which says something about his state
of mind...and what that is, I probably don't want to hear. There are some "LOLs"
to be had, particularly concerning how the movie portrays "withdrawal" from
crack. I guess this would be crack's "Reefer Madness" if "New Jack City" hadn't
eclipsed it a couple years later. Grade: D+

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What If Vol. 1 #39 - Thor Meets Conan

#39 (Jun 1983): Thor somehow ends up in Conan the Barbarian's universe (or era of history, depending on whether or not you see Conan comics as being "canon" in the Marvel timeline) as an amnesiac. He and Conan hang out and kick some ass. Then Thor goes to see Conan's god Crom for answers to his questions about his lost identity. Crom ends up beating on Thor for a minute and
using his powers to throw Thor's hammer far away, since Crom is stronger than Thor because
"it's his time, not the Asgardians'". Conan's enemy Thoth Amon gets the hammer and uses it
to enchance his magic powers, but ends up being killed during a fight with Thor. Thor dies
too (because he doesn't have full scope of his godly powers and so is somewhat mortal), but
Conan gets his magical hammer and proceeds to go off to see Crom for some reason. It's not
too bad per se for a fantasy comic story, but it's not included in the Marvel TPB reprints
of "Classic What If" due to copyright issues. C+


Sunday, May 1, 2011

What If? Classic Collection Vol. 6 (What If Vol. 1 #33-#38)

#33 (Jun 1982): Dazzler becomes a herald of Galactus. She manages to turn him "vegan" or
something for a while, because he eventually switches to eating planets without intelligent
life. He beats on an assembled starfleet of survivors from his previous feasts, then
releases Dazzler from her duties as his herald, after centuries of employment. She goes back to Earth only to find it lifeless. The B-story has Iron Man transported back to the time
of King Arthur via Dr. Doom. His suit only works some of the time but he manages to become
King of England after Arthur dies fighting an enemy force. Eh. C

#34 (Aug 1982): An awful "parody" issue. A typical gag: "WHAT IF POWER MAN (Luke Cage)
WERE WHITE?", with an albino-looking Cage saying "Luke Cage is a funky honky!". Yuk. F

#35 (Oct 1982): Elektra doesn't get killed by Bullseye. Her and Daredevil run off to
another country. That is the whole plot of the main story on the cover. There's an okay
(non-What If related) B-story about wizards creating cat people and the problems that ensue.
The C-story involves Hank Pym dying during an Avengers mission under the Yellowjacket
identity. His wife Janet "The Wasp" Pym turns "grim n' gritty" and engages in solo vigilante
antics, while holding a grudge against Captain America for what she percieved as his role
in Yellowjacket's death. Her beef with Cap almost gets another teammate killed when the
team tries to save people from a burning building. She becomes remorseful and quits the
team. Something's wrong when the best story of the issue isn't even a "What If" plot. D+

#36 (Dec 1982): Fantastic Four delay their first spaceship flight and never gain powers
because they made the right adjustments for safety. They manage a faster-than-light
spaceflight to a distant solar system and return to Earth, and within less than a decade
Earth has colonies in other solar systems. The "Fantastic Four" still have to fight their
first villain, the "Mole Man", except without powers this time (as the "Rocket Group").
Mole Man ends up blowing up an atomic bomb on his island to avoid capture. The B-story
revolves around Nova not giving up his powers by staying on an alien planet (in the main Marvelverse, a group of aliens force him to keep his powers on their planet in order to
protect themselves from Skrulls). He ends up giving them up anyway, but not after a fight
with the aliens after he attempts to run away from the planet back to Earth.
Kinda blah. C-

#37 (Feb 1983): Another three-story What If. The A-story involves the Thing suffering
from a degenertive viral disease after being infected by MODOK. In this reality he
doesn't get cured and ends up mutating out of control. He tries to isolate himself from
society but the Fantastic Four (along with his blind girlfriend Alicia) track him down.
He ends up exploding due to an interaction between the virus and the cosmic rays that
gave him his power. Oddly enough, not only does this return him into a "normal" human,
it also gives his girlfriend true sight for the first time in her life. Eh. The B-story
involves Beast mutating out of control after he swallows a "mutant" formula to prevent
a corporation from getting their hands on it. In the main universe it simply turns him
into a furry blue creature but in this universe it also robs him of his intellect. The
x-Men track him down and exile him into the Savage Land before he can do any real damage.
The C-story involves Galactus demoting Silver Surfer back into human form. The Surfer's
girlfriend on his home planet takes his place so Galactus won't eat her planet, and the
Surfer asks for his old job back so his girl won't have to endure as his herald. Instead,
Galactus restores Surfer's powers but alters them as well so that he is forever trapped
on his own home world, albeit with cosmic abilities. So-so issue. C

#38 (Apr 1983): Yet another three-story What If, this time set in the (relative) future! The A-story is more of a pure "alternate future" storyline, as it's set 50 years ahead of then-current Avenger chronology. The Vision's wife Scarlet Witch is dying of old age. The android Jocasta somehow switches "minds" with the Witch so that Vision can have a wife that will live as long as he will. Kinda odd for the android to sacrifice her own life (in essence) just to give Vision's
wife a permenant body, but oh well. The B-story is both an alternate timeline and a "future"
story, as it's set 30 years later in 1980s Avenger chronology (and with the premise that
Captain America's girlfriend Sharon Carter didn't die). An older Captain America patrols
the streets of a decayed 2013 America, and ends up running into the Red Skull, who is
planning to install his son as the leader of an American "Reich". The C-story involves an
older Daredevil (also in 2013) dealing with the Black Widow, who is now the President of
the Russian Federation. They team up in the end to deal with the Kingpin, who himself is
planning to enter politics, but first needs to kill Daredevil and Black Widow for some
reason. Interesting to see an 80s comic predict the demise of the USSR, but pretty
average stuff otherwise. C

Overall: A pretty average What If offering, except for the awful #34. C-

What If? Classic, Vol. 5 (#27-32)

#27 (Jun 1981): Phoenix had lived instead of killing herself after becoming Dark Phoenix.
The Sh'iar Empire briefly contains the force within Jean Grey by using a "psychic
lobotimizer" (which strips her of her "natural" mutant powers) but it only works briefly,
as Phoenix comes back out of her during an X-Men fight with Galactus. Eventually the
X-Men catch her going out to outer space at night to secretly eat planets and stars to
feed the Pheonix force. They try to contain her, only to all be killed before Dark Phoenix
destroys the earth once she realizes what she has done. Plus yet another B-story about
the Kree. C+

#28 (Aug 1981): Two full-sized stories (and a mini-story) in one issue. The first story
speculates on what would've happened if Ghost Rider had been seperated from his host Johnny
Blaze. A ancient wizard steals the Ghost Rider spirit from Blaze in order to attack the Vatican
and become the "ruler of all Christianity" by brainwashing the Pope with magic or something.
Somehow the Rider and Blaze are still physically connected to the point where a physical injury
to one equally effects the other. Blaze uses this to his advantage, slaying the "Wizard Rider"
with his own magic sword...but this kills Blaze as well. I'm kinda curious on how the Pope is
the ruler of all Christianity considering the Protestants, among other groups, but whatever. The
second story involves a young Daredevil being found by Tony "Iron Man" Stark shortly after the
accident that blinds him. Stark ends up turning him over to Nick Fury and SHIELD, who then recruits and trains Daredevil as one of their agents. Meanwhile Daredevil's dad is kidnapped by HYDRA, but Daredevil manages to save him in time. Kinda predictable. And a [main continity] C-story involving the Eternals getting their ass kicked by the Kree for stealing one of their ships or something. The Kree capture a couple of them and realize that they're altered humans, which strikes them as unusual since Earth is still in the Stone Age. So the Kree go to Earth in an attempt to create their own subrace of "superhumans". Only the first story is really any good (if a bit odd), IMO; the substory about the Kree is somewhat interesting but has nothing to do with the "What If" concept, honestly. C-

#29 (Oct 1981): The Avengers (pre-Captain America) team up with a superbeing from the future
named Centurian in order to "save the Earth" by depowering all known superheroes and villains.
After a while the five Avengers become the only remaining beings with superpowers, and more
or less retire after Centurian reminds them that the goal was to remove all superpowers from
Earth. The Hulk does try to resist and has to be forced back into Banner form, while Thor
goes back to Asgard and the other three (Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp) stop using the
technology that gave them their powers in the first place. Centurian then tries to conquer
the Earth once he's convinced that all the superbeings are gone but Thor teams up with
the remaining Avengers (sans Hulk) to defeat the Centurian. Interestingly enough, this
alternate world was already showed in an Avengers issue, where Immortus (an alternate history
version of the Centurian) sends the mainstream universe's Avengers to this universe in
order to mess with his alternate history counterpart. In that issue the mainstream Avengers
manage to stop this world's Avengers from accomplishing their goal, but in this issue they
never appear to interfere with the Centurian. There's a B-story involving some mainstream
universe history between the Eternals and their cousins, the Inhumans. The C-story
speculates on what if the Sub-Mariner had remained a homeless amnesiac instead of regaining
his memory due to the intervention of the Human Torch. In this world the Sub-Mariner ends
up serving on a ship and using the name "Smith". He's loyal to the ship's captain even
though the rest of the crew think the captain is insane for his endless search for the
"center of the Earth". After a mutiny where the captain dies and the ship sinks, the
Sub-Mariner ends up stranded in Inuit territory, where they recieve him as some sort of god
because of his strength and how he can walk around naked in subzero weather. Ironically
their other "god" is a frozen Captain America, who in the mainstream universe was only
unfrozen after the Sub-Mariner throws his tomb of ice into the water while attacking the
Inuit during a temper-tantrum or something. Okay issue that actually ties in to mainstream
stories that dealt with alternate dimensions. C+

#30 (Dec 1981): Spider-Man's clone had lived. Yes, this was rehashed 15 years later in
mainstream conuinity as the Spider-Clone saga. This issue is more entertaining, but only
because it's funny to see the clone slowly realize who he is in reality (due to his
memories being outdated by a few years). The two Spideys team up to beat on the Kingpin,
then they make some sort of compromise where they switch-off on being Spider-Man every
couple of days. Plus a B-story about the Inhumans. B-

#31 (Feb 1982): Wolverine kills the Hulk during his Marvel debut. He then kills a Canadian
citizen who drunkenly attacks him in a bar. Rather than turn himself in, he becomes a
fugitive until Magneto finds him and recruits him into the Brotherhood. Soon Wolvie joins
the X-Men (the original five, not the 70s "rebooted" version) as a Brotherhood spy and
secretly disables Cerebro, but he then turns on Magneto after Magneto tries to kill Jean Grey.
He slashes Magneto to death but Magneto lives long enough to force Wolverine to rip out his
own throat with his claws. The second story involves the Thing going off on a rampage after
the cosmic flight that created the Fantastic Four. Somehow his behavior has ripple effects on
this reality in that Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, and the Hulk never become their superpowered
selves. Tony Stark and Bruce Banner use a special weapon in order to depower the Thing but it
backfires instead, making him stronger. By this time, however, he's so demoralized about
everything he just wanders off into deliberate obscurity rather than continue to fight the
military and various superbeings. The weapon accidently depowers the rest of the Fantastic Four
for good, however. Interesting issue. B-

#32 (Mar 1982): A powerful being named Korvac takes control of the Earth when the Avengers
fail to defeat him. He kills them all and then "recreates" them as loyal servants. He
manages to become one of the most powerful beings in his universe (at one point he manages
to seal it off from all other universes by sheer thought only) but eventually finds himself
under siege by every single godlike being that he didn't manage to kill. He uses Galactus's
"Ultimate Nullifer" to utterly destroy the universe rather than surrender. LOL. This is the
first issue where the Watcher actually tries to interfere rather than just observe events. C

Overall: The best of the "What If" collection I've read so far, which isn't saying much. :/ C+

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What If Classic Vol. 4 Collection (Vol. 1 #21-26)

Damn, I had these reviews written over a month ago...oh well, better late than never.

#21 (Jun 1980): A continuation of #1, where Spider-Man joins the Fantastic Four and
Invisible Girl ends up marrying the Sub-Mariner. Spider-Man quits after ego-clashing
with his teammates. Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch miss Sue so the remaining
members kick the Sub-Mariner's ass when he invites them to his formal marriage ceremony.
Then they try to frame him to set up a human-Atlantean war only to have the Thing
change his mind and tell the truth. Disgraced, Reed and Johnny go off to attack Atlantis
on their own to "free Sue" only to find out she really loves the Sub-Mariner and is about
to have his baby. Reed ends up disabling the doomsday weapon he brought along with him
but Johnny vows vengence and runs off. The best issue yet during the series...which
isn't saying much. B-

#22 (Aug 1980): Dr. Doom is a good guy because he accepts Reed Richards's help with
finding his mother's soul in Hell. He then becomes some sort of hybrid between his
normal form and a holy knight, with no scarred face. Mephisto gets pissed at losing
Mrs. Doom's soul and forces the good doctor (now Latverian king) to trade his wife's
soul in place of his mother's and his kingdom. Doom spends the rest of his life
attempting to summon Mephisto for one more fight, but never summons the demon he's
looking for, only other lesser random ones. Eh. C-

#23 (Oct 1980): Three stories. Story no. 1: Hulk's love interest from a subatomic world
did not die. The US military figures out how to permenantly shrink the both of them
so they can stay in her universe. Hulk accepts and ends up fighting the "Dark Gods"
of that universe. Who cares. Story no. 2: Some non-alternate history backstory
involving the Celestials tampering with prehuman genes. Story no. 3: Aunt May gets
bit by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker, fights some Z-grade Spidey
villain called the Leapfrog. Meant to be funny, I guess. D-

#24 (Dec 1980): Spider-Man manages to successfully save Gwen Stacy instead of
accidently killing her by trying to break her fall during a fight with the
Green Goblin. After some initial shock when Spidey reveals his true identity to
Gwen the two get married and Spidey whoops on Green Goblin, who reveals Spidey's
identity to J. Jonah Jameson. Jameson reveals Spidey's real name and tries to
get him arrested, but Spidey gets away. Jameson's assistant Robbie Robertson
quits his job with a suckerpunch to Jameson's midsection. Parker faces an
uncertain future. There's also a brief regular continuity story about the Eternals,
which follows up from the Celestials story in the previous issue. C+

#25 (Feb 1981): Thor battles Odin over being banished with his human wife back to
Earth (in the original timeline, it is just his human wife that is exiled from
Asgard). The Avengers (minus Quicksilver) join him, and get powered-up by Asgardians
friendly to Thor. Loki kills Iron Man and is killed by an overpowered Wasp. Thor
declares a truce with Odin and self-exiles himself to Earth. Also included is a short
story about the "Uni-Mind", some sort of Eternal brain-trust. C-

#26 (Apr 1981): Captain America gets elected president in 1980 (with a "African-American" VP, no less) over Carter and Reagan. He helps "liberate" a Central American country with smuggled solar-powered weapons only for the coup leader to be secretly replaced by the Red Skull, who leads President America (heh) into a trap. The Red Skull then tries to use the captured President as blackmail against the US government before attempting to destroy Washington DC with a "solar blast", but Cap manages to save the day and sacrifice both of their lives in order to save America. He is forever beloved and the comic ends with a Bible verse. Plus a totally uncompelling B-story regarding the Man-Thing retaining intelligence or something. And a C-story that has nothing to do with alternate realities but appears to be a rejected "Guardians Of The Galaxy" plot instead. D-

Overall: Other than the first story (which follows up issue #1 quite well), these are mostly mediocre stories...and about a fifth of the material isn't even related to "alternate dimensions" at all; instead it's backstory to some of Marvel's (more obscure) alien races. C-

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

X-Men: Die By The Sword (TPB, #1-5)

Yeah, I know I'm breaking away from the what-if series, but this is sorta related as it also deals with alternate realities. Despite the title, very few X-Men actually star in this comic - it's basically an Exiles/Excalibur crossover. An old plotline involving the Captain Britain Corps is revised in order to give the two teams something to do, I guess. Seems too slight to me as a mini-series (and has nothing to do with the X-Men!). D+

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What If Classic Vol. 3 Collection (Vol. 1 #14-15, 17-20), What If Vol. 1 #16

(Note: #16 was apparently so bad that it was not included in the series, but I've reviewed it anyway as a separate entry.)

#14 (Apr 1979): Leonardo DaVinci is a lot more creative than usual, creates flying machines
which speeds up humanity's technological process considerably. By 1942 humans are capable of
flying around in "faster than light" starships. Interesting premise but then they just copy
the history of World War II as the plot, only with aliens instead of humans (and nothing
resembling the ethnic tensions behind the war). Fuck outta here. D-

#15 (Jun 1979): Four different versions of Nova. All of them suck!!! F

#17 (Oct 1979): Ghost Rider, the first Spider-Woman, and Captain Marvel are
bad guys. Ghost Rider gets the worst end of the deal while Captain Marvel
ends up kicking Earth's ass. Spider-Woman just manages not to get herself
killed by backstabbing "allies". Blah. D

#18 (Dec 1979): Doctor Strange chooses the dark side instead of the light side, I guess. He
still ends up being a good guy at the end but with even stronger magical powers. Reeks of
"munchkin"/Mary Sueness but whatever. D+

#19 (Feb 1980): Spider-Man becomes an media celebrity instead of a superhero. J. Jonah
Jameson becomes a washed-up hack who hires all of Spidey's traditional foes to kill him
in some sort of harebrained revenge scheme. Daredevil is Spidey's bodyguard. Horrid. F

#20 (Apr 1980): Rick Jones dies during the Kree-Skrull War. For some reason he's really
important to this storyline, so the Kree Supreme Intelligence (the Kree's hivemind
master) merges with Jones's corpse to become a new superbeing, and singlehandely ends
the war. Why the fuck was this dude so important back in the 70s? F

Overall: Could be the worst of the What If Classic collections. Ugh. D-



#16 (Aug 1979): Chop socky Chinese stereotypes ahoy! Only person I recognize is
"Fu Manchu". I know nothing about the protaginst of this plot or his background,
and the story doesn't make me want to learn anything more about him. So bad they
didn't even include it in the What If Classic reprint graphic novels. F

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What If Classic Vol. 2 Collection (Vol. 1 #7-12)

#7: (Feb 1978): Various other people become Spider-Man. Flash Thompson (as
"Captain Spider") is careless and ends up killed by the Vulture. Betty
Brant (as "Spider-Girl") quits after inadventerly causing her boyfriend
Peter Parker's uncle to die in a robbery attempt. John Jameson (as the
jet-packed "Spider Jameson") dies saving a errant space shuttle capsule.
In all three universes Parker ends up assuming the Spider-Man mantle
anyway after saving some of the radioactive spider's venom. Whatever. C-

#8: (Apr 1978): Electro figures out Daredevil is blind and tells the
world. Daredevil gets an operation to return his sight but loses his
extrapowered other senses. The Owl tries to take advantage of all of
this but ends up killing himself by accident like the goofball
that he is. Matt Murdock retires his superhero identity and becomes
the NYC District Attorney. Eh. C-

#9: (Jun 1978): A 50's version of the Avengers assemble, consisting
of 3-D Man, (the goddess) Venus, the Venusian Marvel Boy, Gorilla Man,
and the Human Robot (who's just really a robot). They battle a
stereotypical bunch of foreign villains (and one brainwashed American)
to save a kidnapped President Eisenhower. Kinda boring but interesting
to see a FBI agent of Chinese descent among all of the 50s stereotypes
(even if he is a "kung-fu" master). C-

#10 (Aug 1978): The original Thor [Don Blake]'s girlfriend ends up
getting his hammer instead of him, becoming "Thordis". Odin rejects her
at first because she doesn't look like his son Thor but warms up to her
after she gives the hammer to Don Blake so he can become Thor and beat
on Loki. Odin gives her goddess powers and then marries her, even
though she first was technically his "daughter-in-law" or something
because of having the hammer. But gods marrying relatives is nothing
new in mythology, I guess. Funny to also see "Thordis" struggle about
being feminine yet superstrong as well. LOL. D

#11 (Oct 1978): In-joke issue where Marvel employees gain Fantastic
Four powers, with Jack Kirby and Stan Lee the recognizable ones.
Unlike the regular Fantastic Four, who are WASPs, this team consists
of second generation Eastern European Jewish Americans! Kinda odd how
that worked out. Boring as crap though. F

#12 (Dec 1978): Rick Jones becomes the Hulk instead of Bruce Banner.
He still becomes Captain America's sidekick but runs off after he
accidently Hulks out in front of him. Somehow he also gets the ability
to change into Captain Marvel (not the "Shazam" version) with magical
bracelets. Eventually all three are split into seperated beings and
the Hulk ends up trapped in the Negative Zone, becoming its most
powerful inhabit. Mildly hilarious to see Hulk use corny 70s lingo
but why did Marvel have such a hard-on for Rick Jones at one time? D+

Overall: For purists only. D+

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What If Classic Vol. 1 Collection (Vol. 1 #1-6)

#1 (Feb 1976): Spider-Man joins the Fantastic Four, making it "Five". Invisible Woman
ends up being Namor's bride after feeling useless, making it "Four" again. Whatever. C-

#2 (Apr 1977): Hulk maintained Bruce Banner's personality; somehow Professor X, the Hulk, and

Reed Richards combine into a bizarre "Super Saiyan" form called "THE X-MAN" in order
to beat Galactus. Then they seperate back into three people and lose their powers for good.
But not before turning the Thing into a mindless brute who fills the Hulk's original "bull in
a china shop" role anyway. Whatever. D

#3: (Jun 1977): The Avengers never got together for some strange reason. Iron Man dies. Boo hoo.
D

#4: (Aug 1977): Some WWII team stays together after the war to fight for America until the current date. Includes (at least) three different incarnations of Captain America and a whole bunch of of outdated characters that no one's cared about since the 1940's or so. Cold War
chop-socky bullcrap. D+

#5: (Oct 1977): Captain America does not get frozen during WWII. He and his sidekick battle communists until the 1960's. Bucky becomes the Captain for a while with Rick Jones as his
sidekick but dies fighting HYDRA. Eh. C

#6: (Dec 1977): Fantastic Four have different powers; Ben becomes a human "Dragonfly", Sue gets "Mr. Fantastic" stretching powers, Johnny becomes a living "mandroid", and Reed becomes a
giant brain with telepathic abilities. Somehow he ends up in Dr. Doom's body after the two
have a final showdown. WTF. C-

Overall: For nostalgia purposes only. C-

Monday, January 3, 2011

Marvel WHAT-IF Reviews by Rob Cypher

A basic review of the series. Here we go.


What If (Vol. 0?)

#1 (Jun 1966): Iron Man's origins are tampered with by communists,
who implant him with a radio-transmitting device that can cause pain
and stop his heart if he disobeys. Nick Fury somehow figures it out on
a hunch right away but can't convince anyone until the Iron Man "trojan
horse" has already disabled the Fantastic Four. Iron Man eventually says
"Fuck it" and disobeys, leading to his heart being stopped, but Mr.
Fantastic, being a swell guy and all, revives him anyway. Tony Stark
can no longer be "Iron Man" but can live a normal life and the villains
("Fu Manchu" ripoffs) get an Iron Man "dummy" fill ed with TNT at their
doorstop. Blah. D+

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kick-Ass

Saw "Kick-Ass" with my girl as part of her b-day celebration (which is officially today). Rather good movie, actually. Some logic is stretched (but of course) but it does seem to show a somewhat realistic depiction of supposed "superheroes" (other than the goofy sense of dress on the main lead's part) and "villains". The heroes end up in a Frank Miller-style "killing is good" mode which doesn't always make for a good story IMO but is handled well for what it is. Some people will have problems watching a little girl kill and nearly get killed by thugs and murderers, but the matter is handled rather well considering the potential for "overkill", as it were. Libertarians will masturbate to this movie, guaranteed. I give it a B.

First link is to the original comic book it was based on, the second is the movie soundtrack. Will put DVD link on soon when it goes on sale, of course ;)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The first Blogger post

My first Blogger post. Just setting up shop. Going to see if I can import my old LJ entries to here.