Comics Comics Comics Comics: Predator Versus Magnus Robot Fighter #1

I realize that reviewing one comic out of a series might seem kind of silly, but I like to take a look at these things that are meant to be larger stories and see how one of the pieces holds up when taken somewhat out of context. Is there enough material there to grab me as a brand new reader? Does the writer lay down enough in one issue to fill me in on what’s going on, either through outright telling or clues left for inference? Plus, I just like to talk about comics.

Predator Versus Magnus Robot Fighter was a two issue mini series back in late 1992 that brought Dark Horse and Valiant together to tell a story. I’m not sure if this was the first of many or one in a series of DH/Valiant crossovers, but I think it’s kind of interesting that, today, Dark Horse holds the rights to both licenses and could reprint or recreate this comic today.

My vote would be for recreating because overall, this issue plotted by Jim Shooter, dialogued by John Ostrander and drawn by Lee Weeks falls short of really filling in a new reader as to what these two franchises are all about. I’m a pretty huge fan of the Predator franchise, but know nearly nothing about Magnus. The details I get in this book don’t really do much to tell me about the character or his motivations, though I know his red tunic disperses energy (but why he doesn’t have matching pants goes unanswered), he’s dating the president’s daughter and he likes to kick robot ass, though only certain robots. As far as the Predators go, you see one get taken out pretty easily in the beginning (though not really), learn they like to hunt and that they’re dangerous. I guess that’s pretty much all we really know about Predators anyway, now that I think about it. So, what does the issue spend it’s time with? Well, some stuff that isn’t super interesting, to be completely honest. Magnus runs into a group of people hunting robots for sport, much like Predators do, on a future version of Earth. They’ve got an X-O helmet as a trophy which I can only assume is related to another Valiant comic I never read called X-O Manowar. The helmet belonged to the Predator who now finds himself on Earth trying to get his trophy which is currently in Magnus’ girlfriend’s house. There’s a bit of a fight at the end, but most of this issue seems wasted on characters I don’t know doing things that aren’t all that interesting. If I were to write this comic, I’d focus more on the Predator trying to navigate Earth. He wouldn’t just crash land in the middle of a bunch of people but do his best to come in covertly. As we see in the beginning of this issue, robots have no trouble picking up on a Pred even when they’re using their cloaking technology. I’d use that to put the Predator more on the defensive. But hey, what do I know? If anyone at Dark Horse is reading this, though, I’m available for consultation or an outright pitch if you’re looking to bring two of your big properties together.

The real question, of course, after reading one issue is whether I’d read the second? The answer is “sure.” I wouldn’t go out of my way to find the issue or pay more than some pocket change for it, but I’d be curious to see how it ended. I’d be even more interested if I got a solid answer as to whether there’s a full-on fight between the two characters as promised by the title. If not, what’s the point?

Comics Comics Comics Comics: Starman #43

Not a lot goes on in my mind when I’m going through cheap comics at shows. If something looks even remotely interesting and has a low low price, it’s pretty much a sure thing I’ll buy it. This issue of Starman struck my fancy for three reasons: it’s a Mike Mignola cover, Lobo’s in it and I’ve wanted to check this series out ever since I read James Robinson’s Starman series. This issue–which was written by Len Strazewski and drawn by Vince Giarrano in 1992–is actually the second part of the four part story “Star Shadows.” As if needs saying, I haven’t read the previous or following issues, but I didn’t have any trouble following the story.

We start off with Lobo drunk in a space bar (what better way to start the story?). A text box tells us that this action takes place earlier in time from whatever happened at the end of the previous issue. Lobo’s drunk and board, so when a space turtle offers him a bunch of money to killed Eclipso on Earth, he very quickly accepts the job and bails.

But, this is no ordinary space turtle, it’s actually a Lord of Chaos masquerading as a space turtle. See, the Lords of Chaos are angry at Eclipso because he failed to destroy Earth, which should have been a small task. We get a little recap about a Phantom Stranger mini that these events take place in, a mini I didn’t even know existed. Soon enough, things are picking up where the previous issue apparently left off with Starman trying to get to Bruce Gordon in what looks like a fighter jet in space. Lobo’s peeved because Starman wrecked his space motorcycle, so they start fighting.

As it turns out–and it came as no surprise even though I’m not very familiar with this version of Starman or his powers–Starman isn’t much of a match for Lobo, even when he’s really pouring on his light power. While they tussle, Bruce Gordon digs out the ol’ purple gloves, black gem and becomes Eclipso once more. According to Eclipso’s thought boxes, this Starman was created as a way to feed Eclipso. I’ve never heard that before, but it makes a strange kind of comic book sense. Just as Lobo’s about to beat the living tar out of Starmna, Eclipso blasts them with some dark light and the issue ends.

Overall this was a pretty interesting issue and, for the most part, I wasn’t too lost even though I’m not super familiar with Eclipso or Lobo and I’m hardly at all familiar with this version of Starman. When I got to the page revealing that Lobo was going after Eclipso, I actually thought this was going to tie into Superman Annual I read a few weeks ago, but it’s a few years too early for that. I wonder if Lobo’s past with Eclipso (presumably shown in this story) was referenced at all during The Darkness Within. I’m still very curious about this Starman series as a whole and hope to pick up some more issues on the cheap in the coming shows.

Comics Comics Comics Comics: Adventures Of Superman Annual #4

I’ve picked up a lot of comics over the year. Some of them fit into larger collections I’m working on while others just strike my fancy at the time. Comics Comics Comics Comics will be a look at some of the more random books I’ve picked up here and there with a few scans/pics of favorite or funny moments from the issues. The first entry will be Adventures of Superman Annual #4 from 1992. It’s written by Robert Loren Fleming and drawn by Bob McLeod and seems to be the penultimate issue in the “Eclipso: The Darkness Within” event that was running through the annuals that year.

I have next to no experience with this Eclipso storyline, but as far as I can tell, the idea is that supervillain Eclipso has been possessing superheroes and villains (which he can only do when it’s dark) including Superman. Our big bad will apparently gain the powers of those he’s possessed once the impending lunar eclipse is complete making him pretty damn powerful.

This issue is mostly concerned with members of the Justice League, L.E.G.I.O.N. and a few Teen Titans (or were they just Titans then?) tracking the possessed Superman down and trying to un-possess Big Blue. I was actually a little surprised that there wasn’t a recap page, but I was able to follow things with context clues. However, I’m not sure why so many pages were spent showing various heroes trying to find Superman even after our heroes already figured it out. Maybe they were capping off elements from previous issues, who knows?

Booster Gold of all people figures out that EclipSupes is hiding out in a volcano during the day. The heroes show up only to be surprised by a newly minted Guy Gardner who recently quit the Green Lantern Corps, got his hands on a Sinestro ring and started running around in a “G” jacket, cowboy boots and jeans. I’m a big fan of Beau Smith’s run on Guy Gardner, but I’m not a fan of how Guy’s written in this issue, read: xenophobic and sexist. Guy’s not an easy character to get right, balancing the arrogance with the good heart, but Guy comes out pretty good in the end. Making him a complete ass is too easy and something a lot of writers tend to do with the character.

As the Joe Quesada/Jimmy Palmiotti cover boasted (and the reason I bought this issue) both Lobo and Guy take their turns fighting Superman and then getting smacked down by him. The plan is to explode the volcano and let the sunlight in thus curing Superman, but the volcano erupts which puts the villagers in danger. Also, it’s night, so the plan was an all-over failure. Earlier in the issue Vril Dox suggests that Guy go get some sun and bring it back, which he says no to, but then goes and does so, which winds up saving the day. With no fear for his personal safety, Guy douses Supes and then launches them both into the volcano. A no-longer-possessed Superman rises out holding Guy whose new ring apparently protects him even when he’s unconscious.

The end of the issues features a big part of Eclipso’s plan. He’s got the Will Payton Starman under his control, but made it look like Starman was being attacked by the other possessed heroes and villains. Taking the bait like super powered fish, the non-possessed heroes swoop in, save Starman and he tells them to go to the dark side of the moon, which they do. Before that, though, Superman asks Nightwing to help him find Dr. Bruce Gordon who is the Eclipso expert and used to share a body with him (or will share a body with him, like I said, I’m no Eclipso expert).

I’ve always loved the Superman/Dick Grayson dynamic, so seeing these two running around trying to solve a mystery for a few pages was very cool for me. Superman’s respect for Nightwing and Nightwing’s level of comfort with the hero everyone reveres is great. They’re checking out the labs of super geniuses like Will Magnus, Lex Luthor the Second, Emil Hamilton, Blue Beetle and more when Hawkman comes in to tell them about the moon. Nightwing goes off with him to help save the (apparently) possessed Titans and Superman gets drawn into a door of light.

Overall, I had a surprising amount of fun with this issue, it even made me want to check out a few more issues of “The Darkness Within,” at least Eclipso: The Darkness Within #2 which I believe ended the story. This issue would probably be hard for a reader unfamiliar with 90s DC comics to jump right into. Though I would start reading comics later in 1992, I still have no idea why Hawkman is wearing that red costume or what Black Canary was doing during this era (I assume she was still kicking around Green Arrow and don’t really remember her being in any of the Justice League books of the time), but if you’re at all familiar with comics, you know that random things like this change without having a lot of baring on the overall story. I’ve read Marvel books where Thor has a beard and Hulk’s wearing a tank top, but it doesn’t really effect how I read the story. I just use Wiki to find out what the deal was (I know why Thor had a beard and Hulk had a tank top, by the way, it was just an example). Putting this story into context with the upcoming Death of Superman story is interesting, especially seeing as how so many heroes–really powerful ones at that–had trouble taking Superman down. Makes Doomsday seem all the more powerful.