By taking one (and only one) panel from each of ten randomly chosen comic books, each week I attempt to put together some sort of entertaining ten-panel story. This week finds us in the middle of an inter-species gun-fight, and I think we can all agree that we don't have nearly enough of those in comic books today.
So without further ado, off we go into space!
Elite forces of the two warring Keystone factions, the Asgardians and the Zendaks, have met at a small town outside the capitol city in a clash of arms.
The Asgardian leader, Judson Jakes, unleashes his Mindless Horde in a final push, hoping to force the Sendak patriarch Harokin into battle.
The Patriarch takes the bait, but is met unexpectedly by the trenchcoated Jakes himself on the field of battle.
An instant's hesitation, a flurry of guns drawn, and then ...
Harokin's aim is unerring and deadly, virtually shredding his rival in instants, forcing an immediate retreat from the Asgardians!
The infighting of his lieutenants as the enemy leaves the field threatens to bog down the army's initiative, infuriating Harokin.
Unfortunately, his demands for unity among the usually fractious legions under his command meet with little success.
Both armies now in disarray, one from the death of its leader and the other from bickering over who will get the spoils of victory, the battle is surely destined to rage on, much to the dismay of the ordinary people who inhabit the Keystone Quadrant; war, as ever, is hell on the little guy.
The images appearing above are from the following comics, in order of appearance.
- "Rocket Raccoon", Vol. 1, No. 1, ©1985, Marvel Comics Group. Bill Mantlo, story; Mike Mignola, pencils. Al Gordon, inks; Christie Scheele, colors; Ken Bruzenak, letters. I only thought I was kidding last week when I claimed that Mike Mignola did every single comic in the eighties and nineties. The guy is everywhere! This issue is one of his first as a penciler, according to the end notes by editor Carl Potts, apparently before doing "Marvel Fanfare #10" he was an inker only. This "Rocket Raccoon" series is good fun, featuring sentient animals riding herd on a bunch of insane asylum descendants on a cordoned-off planetary system. You know you're in for something different when there's a big ol' walrus screwing in laser-shooting tusks. There's one weird sequence where the alluring female protagonist hottie -- an otter -- strips down and goes swimming. Shouldn't that earn this a Mature rating? I'm just sayin' ...
- "The Question", Number 12, © 1987, DC Comics, Inc. Dennis O'Neill, story; Denys Cowan & Rick Magyar, art; Jaspar, lettering; Tatjana Wood, coloring. Since when does a letter get off having just one name? Does he think he's the Madonna or Prince of the comic book lettering world? I never read "The Question" when it was being published, but it was part of the "mature movement" in the mid-late Eighties. He's an investigative reporter who wears a featureless mask to uncover crimes and corruption, then goes on to report it. As far as I can tell he has no super-powers or anything, just good training and a fit build. It's a funny character, because of course everyone knows that television news anchors have blank brains, not faces.
- "Rocket Raccoon", Vol. 1, No. 3, ©1985, Marvel Comics Group. Bill Mantlo, story; Mike Mignola, pencils. Al Gordon, inks; Christie Scheele, colors; Ken Bruzenak, letters. The battle between rival toy makers over who gets to control the sale of their wares to the insane human residents rages on, with rocket-riding, laser-firing assassin ninjas and doughty space raccoons along for the fun of it. I think the laser-spitting (literally) chimp-blimps might be my favorite bit.
- "Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme", Vol. 1, No. 22, ©1990, Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. Roy & Dann Thomas, writers; Jackson Guice, penciler; Tony Dezuniga, inker; Pat Brosseau, letterer; Renee Witterstaetter, colorist. Man, Jackson Guice likes to use Playboy pictures as reference. A woman can't even walk down stairs in this issue without the pointy toes, nightgown hiking up her thighs, and hair seductively strewn over one eye. It's a little much. The issue, though, features the story of Dormammu retaking the crown of the Dark Dimension from Strange's lover, Clea. Apparently the "Sorcerer's Name Store" has a sale each week on certain consonants so various characters can fill their monikers out properly and it was "M Day!" when Dormammu was shopping. Some of the names they came up with for various Strange bits were really out there. And I can't ever get past the feeling that Strange was actually operating some sort of cocaine dealership out of that mansion, with the trippy colors, hipster capes, gold medallions, and throngs of scantily clad women lying languidly about, draped on every available piece of furniture.
- "Tales of Asgard", Vol. 2, No. 1, ©1984, Marvel Comics Group. Stan Lee, writer; Jack Kirby, penciler; Vince Colletta, inker; Sam Rosen, letterer; George Roussos, colorist. As far as I can tell, this is a collection of various back-up stories that ran in Thor comics over the years. But it's by Lee and Kirby and, as such, is impervious to any attempted mockery. Plus it features the great Asgardian trio of Hogun the Grim, Volstagg the Vast, and Fandral the Dashing, which I always love. Good stuff.
- "The Question", Number 14, © 1987, DC Comics, Inc. Dennis O'Neill, story; Denys Cowan & Rick Magyar, art; Steve Haynie lettering; Tatjana Wood, coloring. Notice that the Letterer With Only One Name has been removed by this issue, just two months later? Nobody likes a snotty French guy, Jaspar! As far as the actual comic, I challenge you to name another issue where the main character spends the entire thing buried up to his neck in dirt. Give up? Me too. Good issue, although it all wraps up a little too neatly at the end. Well, as neatly as a bunch of guys blowing their brains out until one of them digs out the protagonist while bleeding his guys into the rain can be.
- "Wordsmith", Vol. 1, No. 1, ©1985, Dave Darrigo. Dave Darrigo, author; R.G. Taylor, illustrator. This is essentially a pulp magazine story told in a comics format, and all in black and white. Frankly I'm dubious that a comic that's essentially about a guy sitting around writing a story would be a success, but still, this is a good story and well told. This was one of the first projects done by Deni Loubet after she left the company publishing "Cerebus". Not for everyone, but an interesting experience nonetheless.
- “The Man of Steel 2 Silver Edition”, ©1986 DC Comics. John Byrne, writing and penciling; Dick Giordano, inker. This is a reprint of the classic Byrne Superman retcon that really breathed new life into DC. It ages well; the story and art both still feel relevant and engaging. Lois wears some truly unfortunate outfits, but I blame that more on the Eighties fashion scene than on anything wrong Byrne did. I don't think he ever really hit this level again, "Man of Steel" feels like his career pinnacle to me. I could be wrong on that, I didn't follow his career all that closely, but nothing since then really jumps out at me.
- "Starstruck", Vol. 1, No. 3, ©1985 Elaine Lee and Michael Wm. Kaluta (published by Marvel Comics under their "Epic" imprint). Elaine Lee, writer/creator; Michael Wm. Kaluta, artist/creator; John Workman, letterer; Steve Oliff, colorist. Seriously, you need to be high on something before you read this. Because otherwise you're going to be really really confused afterwards with nothing to show for it. What a weird, strange, unpleasant experience reading this comic was. It felt like someone took over Moebius's artistic skills and threw them into a blender with Bruce Willis's scriptwriting abilities. Blech.
"Trinity", No. 2, ©1993 DC Comics. Michael Jan Friedman, plot; Mark Waid and Gerard Jones, script; Barry Kitson and Chris Hunter, pencils; Dan Davis, Dennis Kramer, and Frank Percy, inks; Albert DeGuzman, letters; Stu Chaifetz, colors. Here's a free tip for any of you comics industry bigwigs out there. If your project requires a scripter and a plotter, two pencilers, and three inkers, it's going to suck. Witness "Trinity", an unholy multi-space-going-comic-characters crossover featuring L.E.G.I.O.N., the Green Lantern Corps, and the Darkstars, with all of the cringe-inducing anticipation of crap you, the savvy reader, would expect. Dreck.