Sunday, December 4, 2016

Live Kree Or Die - J'Accuse!

The saga of the Kree continues in Fantastic Four #65. After the surprising defeat of Sentry 459, the Kree who claim to have all but forgotten their long lost outpost on Earth, a planet often referred to by various Kree as a "backwater" feel they must act. Since no slight, even on a "backwater", must go without consequences, Ronan the Accuser is dispatched to investigate and bring summary judgement to the party or parties responsible.

With the advent of Ronan we see really for the first time the Kree personality revealed. He is confident, bellicose, and indifferent to any species not of his own race. Ronan appears to reflect official Kree policy and feels that it is fit and proper that he render judgment and deliver punishment to anyone he chooses, if it is imagined they have impugned the Kree.

When Ronan lands on Earth he creates a cone of isolation and it is there that he wages a ferocious battle against the FF who seem barely able to survive against the raw personal strength of Ronan and the awesome power of his hammer-like "Universal Weapon". But working together they are able to bring him to the ground and at this point Ronan withdraws, the conflict with the Kree left unsettled.
That settlement will come some time later in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes and the coming of Captain Marvel.

Ronan has become a rather fascinating character over time. His cult of purity which comes to define the militaristic Kree really was adapted well to the big screen where he became one of the better villains realized yet in the Marvel movies.  He has acolytes but it's pretty clear that no one likes him even a little bit, even if they fight for him.

Next we travel in time to 1969 when another Sentry makes a brief but deadly appearance. 

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Live Kree Or Die - The Sentry Sinister!

The Sentry 459 is one of my favorite Marvel characters. He's a robot sure (we'll see about that actually) and he's not appeared in all that many comics, but there's always been something about that implacable mug which I found fascinating. The Sentry debuts (as do the Kree technically) in the pages of Fantastic Four #64 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby with Joe Sinnott inks.

Simply put, while three of the four members of the Fab 4 plan a little vacation on an remote and isolated island an archeologist and his assistant uncover a vast hidden outpost which they speculate must be of alien origin. At the same time they activate the Sentry a robot (though he does suggest he's more than that when he refers to having been "bred" for his task) who has been on Earth longer than anyone could know. He captures the two humans just in time to deal with the Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, and the Thing as their aircraft is intercepted by the force field the Sentry has erected around the island. A battle rages and it takes the timely arrival of the Human Torch by means of the Inhuman dog Lockjaw to put down the alien Sentry. But that activates the island's self destruct mechanisms and the FF and the two humans they save at the last minute are just barely able to survive as the island disappears, the Sentry along with it.

(Alternate artwork done for this issue. The replacement is much better and more dramatic.)
It's a simple enough action filled story but it proves the opening salvo in what will eventually be dubbed "The Kree-Skrull War". The Sentry will return but that's a whole other story indeed.

Some months later though we get to see the other side of the Sentry's ages-long mission as we descend into the deep past of the Inhumans who it turns out are an experiment conducted by the Kree on human genetics. The Sentry is left to check on this running experiment among other things. In the pages of Thor #147 in the second installment of a series which replaced the legendary Tales of Asgard we see Sentry 459 perform his duties by visiting the Inhumans soon after their leader Randac has become the first to experience the Terrigen Mists, which eventually gave all Inhumans their sundry abilties and skills.

Here is that story.

Here the Sentry is bright green as opposed to the purple and blue in the FF. We'll discover that quite a bit about the inimitable Sentry 459 is mutable.

The origin of the Inhumans (which is pure Jack Kirby) is remarkably similar to the back story he develops for the Eternals a decade later when he returns to Marvel after his famous DC hiatus. The fusion of the Kree and Inhumans, both indisputable Kirby creations give a depth and luster to the then still young Marvel deep history. 

Next the Kree retaliate when comes Ronan the Accuser.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

The Ripper Legacy!

The Ripper Legacy  by David Stuart Davies from Titan Books offers up a competent Holmes pastiche which tears into the vintage conspiracy theory that the Jack the Ripper murders were actually an elaborate hoax by the British government to cover up an illicit affair by a royal and that there might even have been a bastard heir to the throne. Holmes and Watson take on a case of a kidnapped young boy and quickly find themselves up against a dangerous gang of very murderous criminals.

But to be honest, I had a difficult time getting going on this one. It did its job and and I was diverted, but unusual with a Davies Holmes story, I never really got fired up about the proceedings. It all seemed a bit too remote and cool for my taste, despite some decidedly pulp action. Maybe it's that the mystery isn't all that mysterious and the revelations are pretty easy to see coming. This tale never shocked me, though I did find myself mildly entertained.

For those who like Mycroft, there's plenty of him here, maybe a bit too much actually as his aloof nature seems a bit undermined and his tendency to stay at rest seems at times forgotten. There are plenty of villains, some very well drawn, but maybe there are too many as some of them seem to get forgotten as the story unfolds.

I have to give this one a recommendation but with a mild caveat that I didn't find it up to the standards of previous Davies efforts, which I've enjoyed mightily.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Look To The Stars!

It was already part of my...ahem..."master plan", but in last month of the year and the first full month of the looming "United States of Trump", maybe focusing on the plight of aliens, illegal and otherwise, might be of some small benefit. The types of aliens I'm most interested in right now here at the Dojo are those of a literary stripe who arrive from the depths of space itself.

A focus all month long will be something I've been wanting to do for many moons, taking a close look at the earliest days of the Kree on Earth and the covert mission of one Captain Mar-Vell. It begins in the pages of the Fantastic Four and ends in the pages of the Avengers with the epic Kree-Skrull War. We'll follow those seeds of war in the pages of the earliest issues of "Marvel's Space-Born Super-Hero" and more in a thread which will go by the phrase "Live Kree Or Die".

And in a weird confluence this will also lead into a revisit with one of my favorite gangs of arch-villains, the motley but deadly dozen dubbed the Zodiac. They were created (sort of) in the pages of Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD and then came to full force in the Avengers (in an issue which also starred Captain Marvel by the way) and elsewhere. I've been hankering to read those vintage Zodiac stories again for some time and it seems that maybe the stars have aligned.

In the "Favorite Cover" section I've assembled some of my favorite images featuring assorted alien superheroes who have danced on comic book pages over the long history of comics. Alien invaders go all the way back to the very beginning and haven't stopped anytime recently.

All that and sundry others stuff too like spy movies and Sherlock Holmes and the usual whatnot that occupies this particular digital turf. 

So this month look to the stars! It beats watching the news.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Great Steranko!

Jim Steranko's influence on comics is undeniable. He came roaring onto the 60's comic scene and injected a whole new modern vibe and immediacy to the comics he drew despite himself being a synthesis of many of the classic styles he'd absorbed as a reader for years. In his style we see Eisner, Kirby, Kane, Krigstein, and more as he created his own distinctive look and atmosphere. But he did precious little comics work relative to his reputation. Since his early days he's often promised to do more than he's delivered (I'm still waiting in vain for Red Tide). But there's no denying his influence. Here's a gallery of his greatest comics work, darn near all of it in fact.

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