Epic Beards of Review: Daredevil #238 (Comic-a-Day 80/365)

comicadayDaredevil #238, JAN 87 (writer) Ann Nocenti (artists) Sal Buscema & Steve Leialoha

Now if there were one mini/crossover that I enjoyed (even through all the mutant zaniness) it was the Mutant Massacre. Sure, it was a little much with teammates all up in each others’ grills, but it was leading somewhere.

Not so with this issue.

You’ve got Sabretooth running around what’s left of the Morlock tunnels going through what Wolverine was during this time. Maybe something to do with the moon?

There’s a bit at the beginning where Daredevil saves some guy, but is harassed by him because Daredevil is upping the vigilante game so the punks up their game in return. This is only my second Daredevil issue, but I find it a little suspect that he can hear heartbeats from four blocks away.

Anyhow, Sabretooth is finding it hard to be the animal that he is. Or maybe that’s the man. He obviously remembers how to fight, though Daredevil gives him the what-for.

So yah, Mutant Massacre tie-in, but two references to anything that is/was going on. A bit of a shame.

Epic Beards of Review: The Avengers #266 (Comic-a-Day 79/365)

comicadayThe Avengers #266, APR 86 (writer) Roger Stern (artist) John Buscema

I suppose they needed an epilogue to Secret Wars II because there wasn’t enough junk crammed down my throat concerning this crossover maxi-event.

This is the aftermath, Molecule Man having defeated the Beyonder and the state of the Earth is in such upheaval, there may only be six hours left of life as we know it. Molecule Man lies in a coma, probably replaying in his head how he came to be such a heavy-hitter in not just one, but two secret wars.

The Avengers, Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer must somehow convince this villain to come through for them by using his powers to stitch the world back together, even if it means losing his powers.

Not a bad story overall, but too much talking, not enough action.

And hey, at least we didn’t have to deal with the Beyonder this issue!

Epic Beards of Review: Daredevil #223 (Comic-a-Day 78/365)

comicadayDaredevil #223, OCT 85 (writers) Denny O’Neil and Jim Shooter (artist) David Mazzucchelli

The Beyonder comes knocking on the door of Nelson and Murdock, Attorneys at Law. What he asks is ridiculous, but maybe not as ridiculous as seizing control of the planet by sheer force of will.

Again, I’ve not gotten more than a few glimpses of the character and none of them are the main mini, but it seems like pretty boring stuff. Exactly NONE of what I’m reading makes me want to read any more, even with the Hulk issue and this one. It’s not horrible, and they’ve brought The Beyonder front-and-center, even as goofy as it is, it’s not as bad as some I’ve read.

The Beyonder wants to legally and legitimately own Earth. Matt Murdock doesn’t want his filthy money, can’t even be sure he trusts the guy, but The Beyonder’s admiration for Murdock’s sense of justice greases his wheels.

Long story short, instead of money, he gives Murdock/Daredevil his sense of sight back. He and his ladyfriend have one of those movie days where they do everything there is to see, literally. They’re having such a good time until Murdock figures out that he values his sight more than the off-chance that this would compromise his sense of judgement.

Epic Beards of Review: The Avengers #260 (Comic-a-Day 77/365)

comicadayThe Avengers #260, OCT 85 (writer) Roger Stern (artist) John Buscema

After my disappointment over last night’s denouement featuring “the one from beyond” The Beyonder. It’s beyond me as to why this chump is getting any page-time, especially the goofiness that he tends to bring to a mere scene or two. Only two more issues in the Secret Wars II stack to go!

That being said, this mid-80s iteration of Avengers is a bit wonky. There’re only a half-dozen panels with Captain America in them, and I’m not sure who most of the members are. There are a few notables here, however: Quasar is said to helm her (?) new movie soon, Thanos will be a major villain in an Avengers movie, and Nebula was a high-profile addition to Guardians of the Galaxy.

Anyhow, Nebula has commandeered a starship named Sanctuary II and wreaking havoc across the galaxy. Firelord has been helping the Avengers, but he calls it quits once he learns they’re working with the Skrulls.

The Beyonder shows up towards the end like normal, strutting around in his white pantsuit, looking to “help” the Avengers. That help includes donning some goofy looking garb. Definitely a slap in the face to the rest of “normal” superhero community’s fashion sense.

I agree it’s just one issue out of many, but these team books have a lot going on in them. Too much to keep track of.

The Beyonder didn’t really ruin this issue, but it’s my duty to blame him anyhow.

Epic Beards of Review: The Incredible Hulk #312 (Comic-a-Day 76/365)

comicadayThe Incredible Hulk #312, OCT 85 (writer) Bill Mantlo (artists) Mike Mignola & Gerry Talaoc

Was a might disappointed to see the “Secret Wars II” triangle logo in the upper right corner of this issue, but was treated to a delightful origin story of the Hulk. We all know how the story goes, but this starts waybackwhen, all the way from Bruce’s birth.

I recall elements of this from the Ang Lee epic from a few years back (I think) but I can’t be sure if it has always been this way. No Marvel Zombie am I, but I dig it.

There’s something about Bruce growing up, being the Hulk right from infancy, that it tickles the toes and curls the nose hairs. Family life, high school, the workforce: it all adds up to what he becomes. There’s something really neat from the get-go as we see a ghost-like imposition of the Hulk overshadowing every panel that Bruce is in.

It’s quick, it’s easy, but it works. Bruce doesn’t have issues, he’s got volumes. It’s deep, man. The existentialism is on par with the last few issues of Doctor Strange, to the point where you see Bruce wallowing in some sort of interdimensional crossroads trying to figure out how he got to where he is. It’s silly, especially in juxtaposition of the dark of his origin.

Then there’s the last three pages. Don’t read ’em, make up your own ending or even rip ’em out for all I care: The Beyonder is a chump and he shouldn’t be seen in comics again. Three pages to ruin an issue. For SHAME.

Epic Beards of Review: Doctor Strange #81 (Comic-a-Day 75/365)

comicadayDoctor Strange #81, FEB 87 (writer) Peter B. Gillis (artist) Chris Warner

What a difference an issue makes, eh? Gillis does a fine job of filing us in as the story progresses, so it doesn’t feel like we’ve missed much overall.

Doctor Strange is in stasis, hurtling across the cosmos in the back of some spaceship. The minotaurian pilot is a disciple of the weaver guy seen in issue #78. Luckily for the Doctor, this Muppety-looking character has himself some mystic background and serves as a suitable vessel for Doc’s recovering body.

Things I wish I’d have seen:

  • first reactions to this hulking behemoth
  • the Fantastic Four’s reaction and bequeathing of a Skrull ship
  • all the drama surrounding Sara when she wanted to be chosen as Doc’s host body
  • Strange’s reaction being on the operating table, table’s turned on him.

This magical bad guy is waiting for Strange and ready to kick butt having taken all of the magic from Doc’s place and using it for himself. Wong and Topaz are still being held captive, perhaps to rattle their savior. This bad guy Urthona is very happy with himself and the baubles he’s recently acquired.

Urthona takes all the typical avenues of evil-hood: attacking from afar, then sending his minions to do his dirty work. Of course, once confronted by Strange himself (in his minotaur body double) the bad guy does what any bad guy does best: the beats the crap out of his hostage.

The minotaur leaves his own body for Doctor Strange’s body to help out. He rescues Topaz and what’s left of Wong. Somehow (last issue reveal?) this bad guy has the other half to Topaz’s soul.

Doctor Strange takes some pretty drastic measures here, much to Urthona’s chagrin. Great foil here, indeed. As conscious Doctor Strange has been lately with not thinking before using his powers, I’d like to see where this goes. He really did a number on the future of his title.

We’re done with the Strange run, folks. What could be in store for us next?

Epic Beards of Review: Doctor Strange #79 (Comic-a-Day 74/365)

comicadayDoctor Strange #79, OCT 86 (writer) Peter B. Gillis (artist) Chris Warner

This issues starts with a decidedly epic bend straight out of a work of sf/fantasy, and effective as heck setting the mood. Sorcery has overtaken this planet of industry and reigns supreme, as does the battling of war for a monarch’s pleasure.

“You have learned death in our sphere, champion. You shall be the one to teach it in others.” said Monarch says to the one whom bested all others. His new task: show Doctor Strange the taste of death.

The Doctor returns home from France looking rather swank in tight white pants and a blue bomber jacket and shades. Topaz again rushes to his side, and Wong is worried that Strange will again push her pleas aside. Some lady-friend named Morganna is pestering him, so he makes a date. He also shoos Sara and Wong out the door for th evening.

Doctor Strange meets Morganna out, with a later stop scheduled at a salsa bar. One can only assume that it’s an eighties thing, maybe the precursor to a tapas bar. They talk of Stephen’s preoccupation with his work and he being out of touch with things not associated with skulking around the night. Talk continues with his lacking of a personal life. Meanwhile, there’s a page devoted to Topaz awakening at the Greenwich mansion, heading to the portal Strange had forbidden her. Out of touch is right.

Morganna and Stephen hold hands and in zaps the champion by our unknown dark lord. Kicking butt and taking names, Doctor Strange is at the top of his list. Spells are bouncing off this mook, so Strange needs to get a little physical. Picking up a butter knife and imbuing it with magic will have to do.

Doctor Strange takes a sword. He’s not dead, and his astral form is still functioning. Against all odds and best judgement, he enters Morganna’s body to defeat this foe because he’s calling for more blood. She handles magic well, though unable to do all that Strange was. There’s an off-handed comment about her purity which brings a pretty good giggle.

Topaz makes contact with this entity (who looks a little like Gaiman’s Dream wearing the headgear) and the sanctum is whisked away with she and Wong in tow. Morganna is still donning the Doctor’s strange mystical clothing and it fizzles out and leaves her unconscious. We see Strange himself lying on a stretcher as well.

Things are not looking good.

Epic Beards of Review: Doctor Strange #78 (Comic-a-Day 73/365)

comicadayDoctor Strange #78, AUG 86 (writer) Peter B. Gillis (artist) Chris Warner

As per last issues rigamarole, Doc Strange needs himself a new cloak. Though he has no equal in the sorcerous realm, he can’t for the life of him figure out how to return his cloak to its former glory. He gets himself a spell going, though, but he finds that he’s not got nearly enough mojo for all that.

Strange is trying to give Topaz the help she needs to find the missing part of her soul, but still keeping her at arm’s length. Topaz has quite the missing self-restraint, and he doesn’t know how to handle it. As they proceed through his inner sanctum she almost does something disastrous be looking behind a curtain. They then try another curtain which reveals a mirror showing…alas, they’re interrupted by some hubbub elsewhere! Turns out Strange’s cloak of levitation is pulling a Mary Poppins and throwing his entire study in array.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, somebody dies from a new street drug. And speaking of cloaks, Cloak himself shows up, chasing shadows in an alley.

Doctor Strange figures the whole re-weaving of his own cloak is for naught. He does some research and transports himself there using the Map of Light. He finds this diminutive humanoid dinosaur who has spent years making cloaks like those of Doctor Strange. While waiting for his cloak to be completed, he hears desperation behind curtains just like his back home.

Cloak has confronted this drug dealer, but unwittingly played into her hands as she wraps herself in his cloak. Cloak himself is witnessing his worst nightmares, and this is what Doctor Strange hears from the portal. Doctor Strange does his due diligence in rescuing Cloak, though the villain isn’t necessarily foiled, and the issue ends in a very anti-climactic matter.

The one thing I’m enjoying about these Doctor Strange comics is the existentialism of them. The X-titles were full of outside influences (not to mention gobs of characters) but these Doctor Strange issues are all about this introspective journey. Throw in tight pacing and great art propels the story up and out. Classic, just wish I had more than five issues.

Epic Beards of Review: Doctor Strange #77 (Comic-a-Day 72/365)

comicadayDoctor Strange #77, JUN 86 (writer) Peter Gillis (artist) Chris Warner

Our story opens on a monastery where we’re witness to the dedication of their new master. Doctor Strange has had a hand in his selection, and we’re left to wonder why a pretty surfer boy was chosen. As things progress, a lowly monk interrupts the whole affair to warn them of the Indian government sending a garrison on troops to their holy temple. Surfer boy is exasperated, and a curse (even just the simple mention of it) has dire consequences.

Meanwhile, back in the Village, the good Doctor is meditating on events both recent and past. The ladies of his life run through his mind, kept at arms’ length, in thought as well as heart. He believes his lack of love pushed him to dispel of the bonds his friend Darryl had been subject to, effectively killing him. Hard to say if love’s to blame but the sorcerer’s mind is elsewhere to be sure.

Surfer boy’s thoughtless incantation spreads to the Indian defense minister speaking in front of the UN. The prime minister collapses on stage, a mouthful of war medals lodged in his mouth and throat! Doctor Strange heeds the call, and we see more backstory of the surgeon he once was. Standing guard, he dispels a minor demon, a lackey called a khat. Though Strange stops the continued proliferation of the prime minister, the khat decides to take out his revenge on the entire hospital.

Strange finds that he can’t help all of these victims, almost doesn’t want to, and begins to have some hugely doubtful urges. The khat’s insistence his home and ensorcels the Doctor back to the demon’s realm. Here, it is deafening for Strange’s thoughts. His pessimism has taken control of him, the demon using it against him. Tearing at him, the khat punishing Strange until there is nothing left, until Strange realizes where he is weak, and in tandem, learning wherein lies his strength.
Great storytelling, pacing and art. Enjoying these.