Friday, August 14, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Five: Falls well that ends well

Well, Riggley, the owner of the Badgers has been felled by a poison blow-dart before revealing the identity of the Black Toad. Suddenly, his men (dressed fabulously in traditional villain colors, I note) pop out of nowhere with machine guns and stand therefor.

Jeepers creepers, what the heck is that shield made outta? [That's a rhetorical question. I know what it's made out of. Do not tell me. Geek.]

Fortunately it simply doesn't occur to them to shoot Cap in the leg. Why doesn't anyone in comics ever think of shooting people in the leg?

This being the Golden Age and all, Bucky saves Cap's leg in the most amusing and ironic way possible: hitting the goons in the face with baseballs.

Give that fan a contract!

The Black Toad, defanged of his assistants, makes to get away. And thanks to the patented "ant-cam" that porno videographers insist on using, just when the scene was getting interesting, we get this fantastic shot of the Black Toad's crotch in flight:

Perhaps "Black Beaver" might have been a more appropriate nom du crime.

Well, I might not like ant-cam shots, but Cap seems to, as he roughly pins the Black Toad to the ground beneath him, and orders him to take off his clothes:

HOT! Suddenly, I see the appeal of Captain America. Oh, and speaking of baseballs: nice arms, Cap!

And the Black Toad turns out to be.... SOMEONE WE'VE NEVER HEARD OF!

"And I would have gotten away with it, too, if hadn't been you snoopy kids ... and yer dog!"

Chuck McArthur, the team's manager, was the guy we saw shadowed in the first panel of the story, making insinutations on the safety of the team's star players. This tells us: Riggley was asking for it. He pretty much deserved to die. I mean... would you hire a manager with sharkteeth?

So, as you'd expect the Black Toad gets imprisoned.

Whoa. Or not..

Guess that explains why we haven't seen the Black Toad again..

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Four: Where's the Anthill Mob when you need them?

When last we left "Death Loads the Bases", Captain America had deduced that a thrown baseball, was in fact, a bomb.

The hissing fuse was probably his first clue. So, exactly who do you hire to replace a pitcher's ball with a bomb, without anybody noticing? Abra Kadabra?!

Anyway, Cap explodes the basebomb with his America-vision, or something. Which has (what I found to be) the very amusing effect (for no apparent reason) of causing the Black Toad to run out into and back and forth in the stadium...

...looking for all the world like the Hooded Claw chasing Penelope Pitstop.

Cap and Bucky give chase (to the tune of old timey peye-ano playin'), and eventually corner the Toad in a room. But he hits the light switch, plunging the place into darkness! Then, in a scene familiar to anyone who's ever seen a Scooby Doo episode on television, when the lights come on, they've grabbed...

... NOT the Black Toad. It's Riggley, the owner of the Badgers team. Very unfortunate for Riggley, since he's figured out the Black Toad's identity and rather than announcing it, he announces that he's about to announce it.

As anyone who's ever seen a thriller or mystery movie on TV knows, announcing that you're about to announce who the killer is is the surest to get yourself killed. Sadly, this is 1941, and television hasn't been invented yet, so Riggley has no idea he's dooming himself.

Sure enough, he's blow-gunned down and falls dead faster than Angela Lansbury as Salome Audubon in Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile (1978).

But much more vocally.

The moral of this section? Watch more television, kids.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Three: Basebomb

Yesterday, the evil-doer behind "Death Loads the Bases" was introduced: the Black Toad. He's the guy Marvel Central Casting sends out only when Matador, Leap-Frog, the Owl, the Orb, and Mister Fish are all busy elsewhere in other comics. And that's not often.

Naturally, Cap and Bucky locate him almost immediately. After all, he's right there in the park (though he doesn't need be), wearing an absurdly vespertilionine costume (particularly for some named the Black Toad), and peering at the game with glowing raccoon eyes (at least, that's what the caption said). Why not just sit in the stands in a business suit, like everyone else?

Anyway, like most of the kids reading this comic in 1941, Bucky can't take this Black Toad seriously as villain.

Whoa. Bucky took the full brunt of a baseball bat at the apex of a 270 degree swing by Toad's hired muscle. No wonder they said Bucky would never come back from the dead. Obviously, Bucky's skull is cracked like an eggshell and his brains are now splattered all over the place like Black Hand's at Easter dinner. Somebody get that understudy girl, Betsy Whatsername, into costuming pronto; the show must go on!

WHAT TH--?!?!! Who is this kid, the Hal Jordan of Earth-616?! Your head shouldn't feel like balloon, kid; it should feel like oatmeal. And not to you; to the coroner. A half-hour nap is what you need to recover from, say, a pomegranate cosmo (um..l mean... that's what they tell me). Getting bashed in the head with a baseball bat requires at least 24 hours of surgery by a rotating team of 9 brain surgeons, 3 months in ICU, and another 2 years in an institution learning to feed yourself again.

Whatever; this is Marvel, after all, where characters eat tragedy for breakfast and shit drama for the rest of the day. Cap and Bucky not only shake it off, but volunteer to take the places of the stricken (dead, really) ballplayers. Because, yeah, the game is still going to go on, because, yeah, ESPN's lawyers are that good.

But Cap will play only on one condition:

"I want Bucky for my catcher."
I am so sure, Mary.

This kind of child abuse is almost beyond the morals of even a baseball team owner. But the owner capitulates, particularly, since, ya know, Bucky's really into it:

Kids. Where do they get the energy? Sigh.

Anyway, all this is followed by what feels like 47 pages of Cap and Bucky being Really Good At Baseball, which I prefer to think of as 47 pages of Cap looking Really Ridiculous in a Baseball Uniform.

Once Cap and Bucky have duly impressed the kiddies with their baseballetic prowess, the Black Toad, who's still lurking around the stadium despite almost getting captured by a 15 year old boy, makes his move:

Wait... what? How on earth (even Earth-616) could Cap discern that a baseball is actually a bomb...?!

Oh. Um. Okay, then.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Two: The Raccoon of Doom!

When we left Captain America in "Death Loads the Bases", Badgers' star player Diraggio had just keeled over DEAD at Home Plate, so naturally the game is called on account of dead people.


WHAT TH--??!?!?! Someone DIED on the field, and the game goes on? Who the heck's running this joint... Fay Vincent?!

Well, maybe there's a rule for when someone dies that says whether the game should continue and under what circumstances. This being baseball, there probably is such a rule. Baseball has a rule for everything, including mid-game universal re-boots. You should see the stats for the DCU's 1986 and 1994 World Series.

I guess it's okay. Just because Diraggio dropped dead for no apparent reason, it's not like anyone else is in danger. Play ball!

Well, at least Adams got to second base.
Call a replacement victim from the bench!

Gods, how many people are going to die in this game? It's like watching the Teen Titans play baseball against Geoff Johns. Anyway, note that baseball players are a superstitious and cowardly lot. Nowadays, we'd be more likely to suspect a terrorist sarin attack than "t-t-the t-thirteen jinx".

But it's neither. It's...

Two mad glowing eyes, peering out of the darkness? It's a raccoon...?

No, it's ...

The Black Toad!

Ye gods, he's all black, with pointy ears, a triangle nose,almond eyes, sharp fangs, and a winglike cape...


Monday, August 10, 2009

Captain America Week! Day Two: Death Loads the Bases

So this Captain America story (which is called "Death Loads the Bases", by the way), is a Scooby-Doo style mystery about a spooky character trying to spoil victory for the Badgers baseball team which is on a twelve-game winning streak.

Here's the bad guy, which should come as no surprise, since he's vaguely threatening the team's owner with injury to his star players:

The bad guys, they just love the purple and the orange.

I just thought I'd spoil that for you. Since you never find out who this man is or why he's threatening the team owner until the big reveal at the end, you have no reasonable way of deducing who the villain is or what his motive is. Apparently Brad Meltzer originally wrote for Timely.

And, per Brad's usual style, here's the red herring, Pop Grimes:

Yeah. Sure. This guy has 'criminal mastermind' written all over him, Daphne!

Dude; you have a job with the team, when, in fact, you shouldn't be anywhere near the stadium; shut up. In my day, people who are barred from baseball become announcers on ESPN8, covering the World Extreme Ironing Championships in Denmark. So count yer lucky stars and get me some fresh towels, grampa.

In the stands for Game Thirteen in the Badgers' streak sit Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, Steve's, um, friend. Really really young friend. In dress uniforms. They are enlisted men. Even though Bucky is, what, 14? Did the Army just pick up truckloads of pubescent A1s from the state orphanage to use as cannon fodder? I don't ... well, I'm not going to think about, because it's giving me a headache. I'll just accept it as is.

Sure enough, Buck's hunch is roughly correct: this will be an unlucky thirteenth for the Badgers. For some more than others:

"He was tagged out by the Grim Reaper himself!"
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the world's most inappropriately poetic shortstop.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Captain America Week! Day One

As you know, I own (among other things) a comic book store. So, naturally, NOTHING comics-related escapes my notice. Mine is the eye of the hawk on matters comics-book-sy.

As a result, I followed up immediately on rumors I'd heard about someone doing a Shield knock-off. A Shield knock-off? Scandalous! Being his greatest and perhaps only fan, I resolved to unearth the truth, no matter how many chits I had to cash in to do so.

After just a few calls to some my industry insider friends, I got someone to sneak me an advance copy of an issue from some upstart pub house called "Timely" (thanks, Stan!). Timely, as well, is my intervention, since I intend to expose this group for their shameless usurpation of the Shield's schtick (phew; try to say that three times quickly).

So, the character, who acquired his superstrength and toughness from an obscure biochemical 'vita-ray' treatment (sound familiar, Shield-lovers?), is named "Captain America". Snort; like a name that hokey going to catch on. Is it too much to hope they're going to do something remotely cool with him?

Yikes; apparently it is too much to hope...

He's playing baseball?! With Nekron from Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #2 (1981)?!?! WTF?!!!??! What kind of stupid comic book company wastes our time showing heroes playing baseball... with villains? What's next? The X-dead shall rise?

Okay, though; this is cool:

Bases replaced by tombstones? Very cool; very "Tales from the Crypt". Maybe this won't be too bad to read, after all. I wonder who the villain is...?

"Black Toad"?
Gods help me, this is going to be a LONG week...

Master of... what was that again...?

Just a brief note, which should be of particular interest to certain supervillains who like to imagine themselves to be bloggers...

I've been playing a solitaire game of Heroclix that honors the first issue of the new Doom Patrol series, with my DP-themed team of 750 points against a team of villains associated with Oolong Island. I'm playing on my Big Monkey Store Map, which naturally breaks the action up into different theaters of war.

While the Doom Patrol has been busy fighting Giganta, Dr. Domino, and Angle Man, (and getting nowhere),

the Metal Men (who are the, ahem, 'co-feature' in the back of Doom Patrol) successfully took out Egg Fu (that's Chang Tzu to you kiddies) and then...

wait for it...

they kicked Dr. Polaris's patootie.

Yes, you heard right. Dr. Polaris, the *snicker* "master of magnetism", was handed his funny-looking hat by ... the Metal Men.

OH, the comic book irony.

AND, Iron wasn't even helping out. He was elsewhere, casually holding his own against BIZARRO.

Sure, the Metal Men had a little help from Beast Boy, but, you know, how much of a difference is that? The Metal Men pwned DOCTOR POLARIS with one metal tied behind their backs.

Metal Men rocked, and Dr. Polaris rolled. *Snort*!