Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Like a book out of hell - we start the fire

Like I promised in my last post, Today we are going to revisit one of my favorite X - Men crossovers, the INFERNO storyline. But as you may have come to expect from this blog we are going to focus on the other side of town to see what the non - mutant heroes were doing during all this.

That´s right, I´m talking about the X - MEN : INFERNO CROSSOVERS hardcover I just recently bought. Usually I don´t have the budget for these hefty 75 dollar tomes but when I saw it at amazon for 35 bucks I just had to get it. You don´t get opportunities like that very often.

I already had a bunch of the issues in my comic collection but there were enough issues left - especially the Spiderman part - that it was worth getting it. And within the issues I already had there were some really good ones that I wouldn´t mind having in a more time enduring version that the yellowed, battered floppies I have re - read a dozen times. I don´t know if I should give a spoiler warning with a storyline that came out at the end of the 80s but nevertheless there are some things I´m going to mention that might spoil surprises. And there were a lot of surprises, big and unexpected reveals, plot twists but most of all plot resolutions for Marvel´s mutant population in this one. In the X books.

Not so much in this one. Because while it may be called  X - MEN : INFERNO CROSSOVERS you will not find any X - Men or members of X - Factor in this book. There are some mutants in this compilation however as members of the New Mutants appear on the pages of POWER PACK and AVENGERS. And the two issues of EXCALIBUR that crossed over also have fellow Ex - X - Men ( and women ) Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and Rachel Summers in it. But the issues collected here are all taking place aside from the main war zone. Not so much where the locale is concerned as it all takes place in New York, but where the story is concerned. Which is why the issues of EXCALIBUR are included here and not in the main book. Yes, it has some plot points that play into the big story but it´s not essential to it so it was included here about which I´m especially glad.

Because this is one of my favorite books by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis ( and later on just by Alan Davis ) and there is just not enough of it available in a nice hardcover format. So it really doesn´t hurt that Marvel decided to put these two issues into the INFERNO companion collection.

Now, I still haven´t gotten around to read ( or re - read where some parts are concerned ) the hardcover which I probably should have done before starting to write about it ( Duh ! ) but who knows when I can find the time for that. The way things are going for me that might not be before next year and I don´t think I can wait that long. Still, I HAVE read some of the issues so I can talk at length about certain parts of the book. And if you know how these posts usually work out I might probably go on a tangent at some point and not talk about the INFERNO crossover comics at all.


So let´s dive right into it and get to my first complaint. I´m not so sure I´m happy with their choice for the cover. While I somehow understand that they decided to put Spider - Man on the cover since he was their most popular super hero back then ( this was before the Avengers became the big box office sensation ) I don´t think they chose the best cover from the Spidey books that tied into the event. I mean, there were 8 different covers to choose from and they went with the one where Spider - Man plays the most insignificant role. The main part of the cover are the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin duking it out. With the Green Goblin in the foreground and the Hobgoblin already being extremely smaller, which pushes Spider - Man to the bottom where he might be overlooked.

I mean if you have no idea who Spider - Man is ( I know, let´s just pretend for a moment that´s even possible ) and you see this cover : who of the three persons on the cover would YOU guess to be the star of the book ? And I know it might be just a personal quirk but it looks weird to me when they put the X - MEN logo that prominently on the cover and then it´s Spider - Man and two goblins engaging in a triple threat match.

They used part of the cover of EXCALIBUR 7 for the back cover ( although they cut part of Captain Britain´s leg ) so why didn´t they use it all ?

I don´t think it has to do with Marvel´s recent problems with married super heroes like Spider - Man since this was done long before that.

But one has to wonder if there wasn´t a lawyer at the Marvel offices involved who thought it might not be the best idea to have a satanic wedding with demons and goblins on the cover. Hello, lawsuit.

Which I can kind of understand since you don´t want to make an easy target for all the religious groups and mother societys. They already blame comics for everything so you don´t want to add fuel to the fire.

On the other side it´s called INFERNO for Dante´s sake, so what do you expect ? It´s full of devilish things and child sacrifices so there´s not much softening it up with the cover. Sadly people Today care more about how things look than what they really are so while the true extend of the demonic deprivations that are contained in here cannot be hidden by a nicer cover most people will probably not take offense at it since they won´t read it. There are however enough people who just want to give their lives importance by waving their morality around and decry the decay of society - imaginary as that might be. So while it might be a wise move by Marvel to avoid any unnecessary attention I wished they had shown more cojones. Not a thing they are known for, I know.

Still, the reason why I brought this up at all is to get all my bitching done before I start with the main review. And that´s really all I can complain. Well, almost. My copy had four pages that weren´t cut properly on one side and which I had to cut myself with a trimming knife blade and the dust jacket is glued to the back cover of the book. But the afflicted pages are in the issue of THE MUTANT MISADVENTURES OF CLOAK AND DAGGER ( not just CLOAK AND DAGGER which made finding the cover extremely difficult ) so I really don´t care. And since I spend a lot of time adjusting the dust jacket before putting it back to it´s place on my shelf porn that is no biggie either. To tell the truth, at the bargain price I got it I was expecting some bigger faults than that. And it has page numbers !

Which was one of the things I didn´t like about the AVENGERS VS X - MEN and the AGE OF ULTRON hardcovers. They don´t have page numbers.

I know they want to present the art on the pages as big as possible - at least that is one of the reasons I assume as a positive thinking person why they don´t - but not only does the inclusion of page numbers make the lives of bloggers easier since they don´t have to constantly check the page tally when they are writing a review. It also lets readers know if they have skipped a page or not which is a problem when the paper is as thin as in the AGE OF ULTRON hardcover. But back to INFERNO CROSSOVERS.


I like the INFERNO storyline. I know a lot of people think of it as the low point in Chris Claremont´s writing career as well as in the x - history. But it was one of the big crossover things when I was starting to get american comics from specialized comic shops here in Germany so I could get most of the tie - ins. Some people have said that it´s just one big mess and I agree, but I happen to like this particular big mess for what it is. And don´t let yourselves get fooled into thinking that this is Shakespeare or a big opus. Quite the contrary. This is one big mutant brawl fest where Marvel decided to throw everything into it - including the kitchen sink.

And really, keeping in mind that it takes place in the one place where most of Marvel´s super heroes reside it´s a wonder there weren´t more of them involved. Yep, I really like the giant hero mash ups with dozens of heroes coming together and fighting each other and / or uniting against a common foe. I always say : the more the merrier and the more obscure the guest stars the more fun it is. I would have really freaked out if they had included Howard the Duck, Brother Vodoo or even Man - Thing in this.

I think with all of them having ties to the supernatural it would not have been impossible. Well, maybe they didn´t want to travel to New York City.

Now the thing with crossover tie ins is that either they are an intrinsical part of the story and you can´t understand what´s going on without them - or they just loosely tie into the main story and instead use it to tell their own story or better yet put the spotlight on individual characters. Which some of the writers of the INFERNO companion piece did and which in my opinion is the better part in this book. Especially Ann Nocenti has a field day with New York going to hell and none of its residents batting an eye.

But let´s talk things in the right order. First up are issues 40, 42, 43 and 44 of POWER PACK. I have to confess I never had any interest in this series and aside from the occasional guest star appearances I haven´t read any of the issues. So this is brandnew to me. The art by Sal Velluto, Jon Bogdanove and June Brigman looks good with veteran inkers Gerry Talaoc, Al Williamson and Hilary Barta providing the Marvel house style you saw in most books from that period. It´s not too flashy but not too distracting either. And who knows ? The story might surprise me even if the issues have been written by three different writers : Jon Bogdanove, Julianna Jones and Louise Simonson whose NEW MUTANTS I really loved.

And speaking of Simonson : her husband Walter Simonson writes the next part, which not only is the first visual highlight - at least for me - of the book but it also contains one of my favorite issues, AVENGERS 298.


The story called DISASTER ! takes place as the Avengers have officially disbanded due to the machinations of the evil Nebula who had used Doctor Druid to set the members of the Avengers against each other.

After the grueling battles against the Masters of Evil, the greek gods of Olympus, all kinds of robots and machines under the leadership of an cosmic cube and the ordeal with Marrina - which led to Namor quitting the team - this was the last blow for the Avengers to call it quits. Which is how the team was disbanded - or disassembled if you will - back in those days BB ( before Bendis ). No Scarlet Witch going bonkers and making She Hulk rip up her husband, no Hawkeye who´s too stupid to take of a burning quiver full of exploding arrows, no wanton killing of Avengers nor Doctor Strange turning up and contradicting 20 years of Marvel continuity.

Just a long string of good old - fashioned kickass stories that take the Avengers to the limits of their physical and mental endurance and beyond. So that at the end of it they have to dissolve the team, go their separate ways and recharge their batteries. At least for a while. Because if there´s one thing you can count on with the Avengers then it´s that whenever they are needed a new team will arise although more often than not with a different roster than the previous incarnation. Or in other words :

" And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born - to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand ! Through the years, their roster has prospered, changing many times, their glory has never been denied ! Heed the call, then - for now, the Avengers Assemble ! "

Back to AVENGERS issue 298 : Walt Simonson uses the backdrop of the demon invasion of New York to tell a solo story ( almost ) with Jarvis, the Avengers´ butler that is funny, dramatic, thought provoking and poetic.

The art by the team of John Buscema and Tom Palmer also does its usual magic to make this issue and the next two some of the most enjoyable parts of the book. In the story Jarvis - who is now unemployed since there are no more Avengers - decides to go into town to find a new tv set since his old one has broken down ( wait till you see Jarvis´ Mom, she´s not what you would expect ). On the way home he saves a woman ( Glory Garsen, we´ll meet her again ) from being eaten by the subway doors and leads the passengers to safety displaying equal amounts of countenance, civility and bravery. He then saves a woman and her daughter from falling bricks - with help from a certain photographer / part time wallcrawler.

It´s a nice easter egg for longtime Marvel readers and the exchange between Peter Parker and Jarvis is one of the funniest scenes of the issue. Back then Disney didn´t own Marvel but they still did the graphic novel that adapted WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT ? so maybe that´s the reason why Peter suggests the movie to Jarvis - they´re doing promotion.

Peter´s dialogue nails it : " No worries, mate. If you´ve already caught Crocodile Dundee, check out Roger Rabbit ! His wife´s a knockout ! "

But Jarvis has the best dialogue ( or thought balloon in this case ) when he leaves the cinema after watching the movie : " That young man was right ! Roger Rabbit´s wife ! My goodness ! Such ... ample ... drawing ! "

Now besides promoting Marvel´s Roger Rabbit graphic novel - and thus providing an opportunity to post another picture with pop culture´s hottest toon - Jarvis´ visit to the cinema is an important plot point.

Because Jarvis right away associates the strange behaviour of possessed machines to that of the toons in the movie and acts accordingly, first by " feeding " a phone with coins to stop it from strangling a civilian, then by managing to make a phone call after threatening to damage it with a bolt cutter. But it´s his next interaction with an inanimate object come to life where he resues Glory Garsen a second time. She is almost crushed between two cars until Jarvis stabs the headlights of one of the cars - injury to the eye motif, indeed. So Jarvis manages to save Glory for a second time but before they can have a chat one of the cars changes into a Transformer like creature which is too much even for poor Jarvis.

Thankfully a mysterious figure in a hat and trenchcoat appears and defeats the mechanic monster who turns out to be Steve Rogers during his " The Captain " period. Jarvis had contacted him earlier and after revealing himself the Captain goes on to battle more monsters - and assemble another team of Avengers without any doubt. But like I said, the story is all about Jarvis so instead of following the real Captain America ( we do that in the next issues ) the reader returns to our heroic butler who can´t help but hang his head low when he sees Glory´s excited reaction to a real super hero - totally forgetting his own heroic deeds of the day.

Thankfully Glory isn´t about to let him sneak off just because he´s shy.

And on this high note I´m going to end the post since I´m already two hours beyond the deadline. Originally I thought I could put it all into one post because all the necessary pictures were already prepared in advance.

Well, as usual my writing took me into some unexpected directions and I had to look for a few pictures I couldn´t have thought of and which ultimately took me longer than I thought. So like with previous posts we will have to continue with the Avengers and Inferno in the next post. But before closing I have to give the usual thanks and kudos to the nice guys on the internet who helped make this post possible. First off thanks to EARTH´S MIGHTIEST COMIC BLOG who provided the picture above as well as many Daredevil pictures I will use in my next post. Also thanks for Darren´s post on the Avengers Inferno issues on THE MOVIE BLOG which goes into more detail about it. He also did posts on the other Inferno crossovers we will covers in the next post. Last but not least, because it came up a lot during my search for a Jessica Rabbit picture since I have lost most of my picture archive, here´s a picture of one of my favorite performers Mariah Carey from her appearance at the 2014 BET awards.

Okay, the dress is black instead of red but otherwise I can see why all the tabloids are comparing her to Jessica Rabbit. She has a great singing voice, her performances are totally sexy and she can fill out a dress.

Now I couldn´t find a video about the INFERNO CROSSOVERS to add to the blog or one about Mariah Carey´s 2014 BET performance in good quality. I tried to find one from Mariah´s best appearance on the Jay Leno show

in 2009, but the only one I found on YouTube was without sound. So instead I´m posting another video with a great singer. It´s Jhene Aiko, who´s song " The Worst " I first heard on Conan O´Brien. I´m pretty sure you will instantly fall in love with her voice - like I did - so go check it out.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

I would have made it shorter if only I had the time.


Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

You IZ dah man! Yes. D-Gruppe needs more femme characters than it allready has! I can see it now: "The Mystery Of Big Babs' Bouncing soapy Boobies!" Starring Maria Carey as "Babs". You inspire me, man!! ;-)

SUBZERO said...

I would definitely buy that comic ( or better watch that movie ), dude !

Boooiing !-0

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

Oh, still no blog header but I'm getting this on three of my blogs but checking via another computer the Headers ARE still there. No idea what that's about!!

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

try this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOGBo8wpFcM

SUBZERO said...

Thanks for the link, you always come to the rescue.