Monthly Archives: June 2015

Stars and garters

What color is this fur?

What color is this fur?

Blue and furry! Um … it needs a little discussion. Read the rest of this entry

Today is for taboo II

newrepublicThe topic is Marvel mutanthood and racism, and its relationship both to prejudice against black Americans and to Jewish-American identity, or a sector thereof. It’s the sequel to Today is for taboo earlier this month. Read the rest of this entry

Dagger & Cloak [guest post]

strangetales2This here is an invited guest post by Jeffro Johnson.
I picked up a copy of Strange Tales #2 off of a spinner rack at a gas station. I immediately knew that I’d found something special. This was it… the series for me.
I knew vaguely that this was more how comics were done back in the sixties, so there was a retro-coolness factor from the start. But the stories… there was something stranger and weirder about them than anything I’d seen. They tilted toward horror and weird themes in a way that was completely new to me.
I had my mom drive me around to other gas stations until I could find the first issue. I was so happy. I followed the series religiously until about issue seven or so when it stopped showing up. I didn’t miss anything, though. When I was old enough to trek down to comic book stores on my own, I found out that the series had gone off the rails with guest spots from the Punisher and Power Pack. It was tragic to see really.
But those first seven issues, they were about the best thing I’d ever read in comics at the time. They actually even formed a coherent story arc which was something I hadn’t really seen outside of the occasional trade paperback. But money was tight, and it was a rare thing for me to get a look at any of those back then.
Now, I don’t have the issues right in front of me, but just going from memory… this was just about the best treatment that either of these properties had gotten, really. Doctor Strange was picking himself up from major setback at the end of his previous series. He’d lost most of his powers and had to start over again with an evil master. He actually had several close calls and ended up taking on more of a roguish look himself. His eye patch was completely badass and it was great to see him really work for his victories for once.
And Cloak and Dagger are so rarely done right. I mean they are just awful characters unless you don’t think about it. I mean… you have a darkness and light theme going on. It’s got beauty and the beast themes folded in, too. Their origin story is painfully topical, pulling in eighties anti-drug campaigning. It spills over into the characters with Cloak needing Dagger to feed him enough light that he doesn’t go crazy and start randomly attacking people.Honestly, a hot chick looking after a needy depressive not-boyfriend is not that plausible. And Tyrone just wasn’t ever going to be leading man material. I hate that. The two really need some challenges to get them focused on something other than themselves. The first seven issued of this series was really about the only time they got that in spades. They were all of a sudden creepy and freaky and unsettling and I loved it. They were then and forever my favorite characters, and even though I was disappointed by every other book I saw that featured them, that never changed.But that’s how it is with comics. Artists move on. Other people come along that want to slap “mutant” on everything it can conceivably be applied to. Some goof somewhere decides that Dagger would be a better character if she cut her hair and was blind or something. Oh, there was some occasional good ideas– like when the whole thing about what Cloak’s signature item really was. But for the most part, their stories were pretty underwhelming after that.

It doesn’t matter. I’ll always remember them for what I as a sixth grader interpolated their past adventures as being. I knew there was something to them… something more than Spider-man guest star and limited series material. I had a glimpse of it… and that was all that it took.

They never caught on like I thought they should. But for my money, the “strange” take on the pair was definitive. I’d have followed that for a hundred issues if I could. Unfortunately, like just about every other offbeat series to come out during the eighties and since, the Strange Tales revival failed to last even twenty issues.

I never got over it.

Links: Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog

Want to do a guest post? Send me an email. 40-60% autobiography, 20-30% comics, 10-20% heartfelt something-or-other.

Next: Today is for taboo II

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Give me liberty

Approaching the perfect ur-issue of superhero team comics

Nigh the ur-issue of superhero team comics

This was a small, feisty, doomed push for a bit there in 1987-88 to recapture the superhero magic. It succeeded. It’s a superior supers comic, full of action and plot, somehow combining totally kid-friendly with complete lucidity, standard but completely justified actions and interactions. It was charming, intelligent, wonderfully drawn, and fun. Eight issues is all we got.

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Do the two-step



Some orientation: Steve Long and I met in the early 2000s in the context of role-playing publishing, as he had just become the lead line developer for Hero Games and I had shifted my digital-only products to book form for Adept Press. Read the rest of this entry

Bless me DC, for I have sinned

Nuts to them!

Nuts to them!

BONUS POST: Thanks to Ed McW and his June pledge at the Doctor Xaos Patreon!
I only just now finished reading the original Doom Patrol series, by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani. Read the rest of this entry

No one joins a “cult”

which spells "Jim Jones"

which spells “Jim Jones”

Cult leader supervillains! Can you get any more evil than that? Not in comics, you can’t. But their cults are strangely vague. Read the rest of this entry

Did it have to suck so

Guess which movie I’m talking about.

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Justice comes by night

What would you do?

What would you do?

BONUS POST: Thanks to Larry Lade and his June pledge at the Doctor Xaos Patreon! When I talk about “stepping out of the river,” I’m talking about Marvel superheroes and titles very similar to them. It doesn’t mean no comics at all, and that holds especially for 1992 or so, when I phased out of superheroes but continued buying tons of titles, and became a dedicated comics pusher upon my entire social life for about the next 15 years. Read the rest of this entry

Today is for taboo

But about what?

Straight to the obvious question: What does Magneto think of Israel?

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Back from the Zone

gangreen This is Marshal Law post #2, out of (as currently conceived) five. Read the rest of this entry

Whom were they watching?

Scary supervillain! oh wait

Scary supervillain! oh wait

BONUS POST: Thanks to Markku Tuovinen and his June pledge at the Doctor Xaos Patreon!

This is first of three posts about Watchmen, specifically the 12-issue run from the 1980s. I’m not including the movie or the new comics that came out more or less with it.

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