MARVEL PREVIEW #14 STAR-LORD

“Sandsong”
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Carmine Infantino

Starlord has arrived at a desolate desert world in response to a call for help. He is attacked by the dreadnoughts of the Lorq a reptilian race. The ship crashes and severely injures Starlord. The ship decides to create a physical persona of itself and forms a beautiful woman. She names herself Caryth Halyan. She pretends to be a survivor from another ship that found him and healed him. So the two go off looking for the intelligence that brought Starlord to this world. They find a cavern deep inside a mountain. After successfully fighting off hordes of small crabs they connect with the Trinity. The Trinity is about to give birth to a tree of life. Starlord and Caryth fight off the Lorq and defeat them but Caryth loses her human body.

“Three Kinds of the Fannish Encounters”
By Don & Maggie Thompson

An article about science fiction fans. There are three kinds. The first that buy, read and collect the various books and memorabilia. The second is communicating with other fans through fanzines then they recommend three popular ones. The third is direct contact at conventions. Interesting but a bit dated for this now internet age. Oh and don’t call it sci-fi. Apparently that’s an insult.

“Starworld Cyndriana”
Writer David Kraft
Artist: Bob Wakelin

A craft lands on the forbidden world of Cyndriana and a pilot prods an elderly couple off the ship. He then murders them and takes their valuable. As he hides it in the jungle he is confronted by a naked woman. She seduces him and later he finds himself attacked by the plant life. As he tries to reach his ship the skeletons of the murdered couple come to life and drag him underground.

“Detour”
Writer: Rich Marshall
Artist: Alfredo Alcala

Cathy Bailey is a college student driving home for the holidays. She stops at a diner for coffee and gets some unwanted attention from a biker. She leaves and later finds the man pursuing her. She desperately tries to escape and ends up crashing the car into a tree. The biker comes and breaks open the window and drags her out. Now a flying saucer is over the crash site. It takes the car and motorcycle then zips away. The man was trying to warn the girl and not after her.

So this Starlord story was a mixed bag. On one hand the story itself was in some ways kind of dull. The redeeming part was having the ship create a human body. There seems to be a love that the ship has for Starlord and now it can actually interact with him. Some beautiful artwork but as I said the story was sort of ho-hum.

The second was also OK but nothing special. Sort of your typical evil doer gets his comeuppance.

The third was my favorite. It was a written story with illustrations to go along with it. A very interesting story with suspense and a twist ending.

GROO FRIENDS AND FOES #2

“Granny Groo”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones

So after wrecking Captain Ahax’s ship Groo decides to visit his grandmother. Granny Groo raised him into the man he became and has been apologizing for it ever since. Now Granny Groo lives with the gypsies and the gypsies have really pissed off the local village. They plan to burn down the gypsy camp and form a mob. When they arrive they find out Groo has already burned down half of it. Now the presence of Groo puts enough fear into them to abandon their plans. Granny Groo wisely uses Groo to intimidate the villagers into voluntarily giving up their money to her various scams. She eventually comes up with a plan to get rich and get rid of Groo at the same time. She put him up for sale as a bodyguard and has a raffle. The winner can use Groo to intimidate anyone. So the winner then uses Groo to bully the villagers into giving him anything he wants. Groo though misunderstands one of his commands and destroys the village. The villagers go after the hapless man while Groo decides to move on. Granny Groo ends up with a wheelbarrow full of money.

So Granny Groo. The woman who raised Groo and his sister Groella. Granny is a con artist who is always trying to separate people from their money. She seems to genuinely love her grandson while acknowledging that he is a complete imbecile and walking disaster. She gave young Groo many a spanking and has given the adult Groo a few spankings for his blunders. She usually tries to use Groo for one of her many schemes to get rich with disastrous results. In this instance she actually came out ahead at the expenses of a poor village.

We also get introduced to young Kayli. A little girl looking for her father. She was a passenger on the ill fated ship from last issue and now she hooks up with the gypsies. Granny Groo has plans to use her in her larcenous schemes and young Kayli’s quest will become more central to the overall story arch.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #7

“Nightmare”
Writers: Bruce Jones & Brent Anderson
Artists: Brent Anderson & Jerry Bingham

Ka-zar and Shanna have taken shelter in a cave for the night. They get into an argument over Shanna’s relationship with Dherk. Ka-zar is a bit jealous which then brings up the whole Leanne affair. So later at night Ka-zar wakes up yelling with terror. He had a nightmare. So he tells Shanna about the nightmare.

He finds himself in a village under attack by dark hooded riders. He fights one of the riders who turns out to be his father. He kills the man and takes his robe. Then jumps on the horse and goes out into the jungle. He comes to a flaming waterfall and goes through it unharmed. There are more dark hooded men to attack but Ka-zar defeats them. Then he leaves the building and finds himself in an arena with slaves tied to posts in a circle. At the center is a creature with tentacles. Ka-zar manages to free the slaves and kill the creature. The crowd turns to skeletons and the city crumbles. Shanna analysis his dreams.

So this story was a bit of a weird one. Still I liked it. It was obviously a dream so they could play up the surreal stuff which made it an interesting read. Ka-zar has a lot of baggage in his life to come to terms with. This is what makes this incarnation of Ka-zar the best. All the characters feel like real people. They have all sorts of issues and hangups. Ka-zar and Shanna’s relationship is quite a real one with all the problems with any relationship. Everyone in this series has a real personality that is totally believable.

SCOUT: WAR SHAMAN #16

“One Last Ride on the Wall of Death”
Writer: Timothy Truman
Artists: Timothy Truman & Ricardo Villagran

Rosa Winters is back in charge and she wants to get rid of Scout permanently. Before she can Atuma comes which sets off his brother the Reverend Sand Dog. The two fight and that distracts everyone for Scout to pull a grenade. He then takes his sons into the hills. There Rosa starts lobbing mortar rounds at them. A rockslide separates him from his boys. As he lies dying Rosa comes down to finish him off. Scout leaves a grenade under his body so it goes off killing Rosa. Sand Dog manages to find and take out Tahzey. Young Victorio found shelter in a cave. He comes out and picks up Scout’s bandanna and sunglasses.

“The Living Years”
Writer: Beau Smith
Artists: Todd Fox & Ricardo Villagran

Beau La Duke is burying Scout. He reminisces about his time with Scout. A very moving look into the real La Duke. He promises to find Scouts sons and take care of them.

So the final Scout issue and it was a doozy. Scout dies but dies a dignified death. Interesting that my journey rediscovering Scout started a year ago. There was supposed to be two more series Scout: Marauder & Scout: Blue Leader. But for whatever reason they didn’t get written. Truman a very talented man moved on to many great projects. Some will be showcased on this blog in the future. This was his first series and it shows he had a deep personal investment in the series.

I started reading Scout back in the ’80s as a teenager. The dystopian future of 1999-2015 seems a long way off. Now I’m looking back at those years. Thankfully the future that was depicted never came about. Sort of fascinating to view this series from both angles. A young man where this could happen and the older one who is safe in the knowledge it didn’t happen. Will Scout come back again. Either the missing series written by Truman as an alternate history or a new reboot. I suppose time will tell.

THE WARLORD #50

“…By Fire and Ice”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan and Shakira have reached Castle Deimos and decide to ambush two people on horseback who have been following them. The two turn out to be Aton and Tara. After a brief struggle the two groups join forces and head off to the castle. Meanwhile in the castle, Deimos has Morgan’s daughter Jennifer who is now catatonic and had her hair turn white after seeing Deimos. Apparently a head mounded on a hand was too traumatic for her.

So Deimos summons Ashiya the witch who helped resurrect him. He needs her to send him back to the Evil One in Wizard World. Only he can restore Deimos back to his full body. So he goes to the Evil One and promises anything to get his body back. The Evil One agrees and after restoring Deimos they are attacked by Mongo, Machiste and Mariah come to free Sarrgon. The Evil One is still new to his powers and decides to take Deimos’s powers as payment. Then sends him back. The Evil One decides that he will also flee to fight another day.

Now Deimos is back with a fully restored body but no powers. Ashiya then shows that Morgan is coming. Good old Deimos decides to ingratiate himself with Ashiya by offering to make her his queen. She sees through his pathetic act and leaves him but not before telling him that he failed in killing Morgan’s son. So now Deimos has to rely on his Atlantean weapons and Morgan’s daughter.

When Morgan and company enter the courtyard Deimos shoots Aton with a laser rifle. Morgan comes after him but is forced to come out in the open when Deimos threatens his daughter. Deimos’s servant who has developed feelings for Jennifer intervenes which allows Morgan to shoot and damage the laser rifle. Deimos then flees on horseback. Morgan follows him into the arctic wastes. His horse dies and he passes Deimos’s dead horse. At a derelict ship he comes on wolves attacking Deimos. He rescues him and takes Deimos to the ship where he starts a fire. When Deimos recovers Morgan pulls his pistol to shot. Then smiles at Deimos’s terror and holsters his gun. With a wave he kicks snow over the fire and lets the wolves devour Deimos.

Well the big five-oh. Naturally you have to do something special and Grell comes up with a satisfying story. Finally Deimos is dead. Aton is dead which is sad. Still Aton was a character I couldn’t see doing much with so it made sense to kill him off. What was important is the closure with Deimos’s death. I loved the way he let his hate go and just left to let the wolves take care of him. So now some major plot points have been resolved. Deimos is finally totally dead. Morgan has come to terms with his evil. His daughter Jennifer is found but mentally damaged. And in Wizard World the Evil One is someone who has to be dealt with in the future. A very satisfying story.

On a personal note this issue has a lot of sentimental value to me. In place of a letter column was a brief synopsis of all the 49 issues. At the time I was missing most of them and became quite intrigued at getting the back issues. So I started what would become the mental illness of comic book collecting. A condition that seems incurable and will probably be with me from the rest of my life.

MARVEL PREVIEW# 11 STAR-LORD

“Windholme”
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Bryne

The small colony world of Windholme is raided by slavers. They kill everyone except the young to take off world and sell. Kip a young man rebels against the slavers and escapes into the air ducts. There he meets a young woman named Sandy from another world also raided by the slavers. Their rebellion is aided by the arrival of Starlord. He disables the ship and allows the slaves to rise up and kill their slavers.

Starlord then goes off to search for who is behind this operation. After leaving the freed slaves on the planet Windholme, he heads off along with Kip and Sandy to Cinnibar. Cinnibar is a pleasure world with floating cities. The world is run by Shakati who is behind the slave raids. Starlord and his friends find out that the raids are a greater plot to finance a coup of the emperor by his uncle. So its off to the world of Sparta to warn the emperor.

When they get there Starlord faces the uncle and his ally the leader of the Ariguan Confereracy. This alien is the lizard-man who killed Starlord’s mother. So they fight and Starlord forgets his pledge to not kill. He then manages to take out the uncle. It is discovered that Starlord is the emperor’s son. The emperor’s ship crashed on Earth and he fell in love with his mother. He later left with a promise to return. He unfortunately trusted his uncle who had the aliens come and assassinate his mother. Now he can inherit the galactic empire but decides to remain an explorer. He recommends that Kip be adopted as his son and become the heir.

“Our “Alien Heritage or the Central-Casting Syndrome.
By John Bryne

An article about how actual alien life would look nothing like humans but how it has become popular to humanize aliens in fiction. Ok article but didn’t really have anything new to say.

So Starlord is back in a second story. This time they have decided to portray Peter Quill as much more likable. He is now dedicated to being a guardian of the universe and no longer obsessed with revenge. Indeed he is somewhat of a pacifist who will not kill. But still human and forgets that when actually confronted by the alien that killed his mom. The story also established the character by giving him a ship that is sentient. There is a sort of love interest with the female persona that the ship has. This was a really great story. It had an epic feel with the different worlds that just seemed larger than life. The revelation of Peter’s origin was a surprise. The character was being set up to have his own series but it would be quite some time before he gained some popularity.

GROO FRIENDS AND FOES #1

“Captain Ahax”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones

Groo has just vanquished an army but the villagers are not in a mood to pay a reward for said service. The army was there to protect them from Groo. He decides to go off and find a place that will appreciate him. Which in all honesty doesn’t exist. So he heads to port with his dog Rufferto to find a ship. Captain Ahax just happens to be there and goes into a panic. Every ship he has ever captained has been sunk by Groo and now he’s there to sink his new one. The crew jumps ship and it looks grim for Ahax.

Then he has a brilliant idea. If the ship is doomed to sink then he can use it to work for him. He goes and takes out a hefty insurance policy. Then he sells the cargo he’s carrying since it won’t reach its destination. Finally he sells the ship with possession going to the seller when it reaches his destination. Oh and he gets a new crew by promising triple wages and all the rum you can drink.

So with this all lined up he sets sail with Groo on board. Only problem is Groo doesn’t sink the boat. He sinks a pirate ship that attacks them but the ship arrives safely in port. Now Ahax faces arrest for selling his cargo and not being able to pay his men. No insurance and he sold his ship cheap. As Groo leaves he takes his sword that he left in a hole he made. The ship sinks although too late to benefit Captain Ahax.

This series will spotlight Groo’s friends and foes that he has made over the years. Now Groo’s only true friend is Rufferto. It gets off to a great start with Captain Ahax. Ahax has the record for captaining the most ships sunk. All of them by Groo who as everyone knows is a jinx. Any ship he steps on is bound to sink. The only way it won’t sink is if Rufferto is with him. His presence counteracts the jinx. So poor old Captain Ahax once again loses his ship and while he comes up with a brilliant idea there was one fatal flaw. Groo can mess up any plan.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #6

“Brief Encounters”
Writers: Bruce Jones & Brent Anderson
Artist: Brent Anderson

Shanna wakes up to the Savage Land covered in snow. She doesn’t understand why Ka-zar doesn’t seem excited. We find out that this is an illusion. Later Shanna has another vision of rising flood waters. Ka-zar is worried that she might be losing her mind. An attack by a giant scorpion then gets his attention. He kills it but gets nicked by its stinger. Even a little nick is deadly and Ka-zar falls into a deadly coma.

Shanna finds out that her visions aren’t a figment of her imagination but shared memories with Dherk. Dherk is an Atlantean scientist hooked up in a machine. The machine keeps him in suspended animation but for periods of time he can project himself out of his body and sometimes even physically manifest himself. Shanna is linked to him because of the mind transfer device used on her by Leanne. Dherk has fallen madly in love with Shanna and makes a deal. She can join him in suspended animation and he will lead her to a cure for Ka-zar. The journey proves too hard and Shanna collapses. Dherk brings her to his laboratory. Then he brings the cure to Ka-zar in the process sacrificing his own life.

So once again we are introduced to the Atlantean connection to the Savage Land. Dherk seemed like a real tool but surprisingly redeemed himself with saving both Shanna and Ka-zar. Dherk’s secret lab will be a link for future stories on the Atlantean connection. Also wasn’t a bad story on its own. This series is starting to explore the mystery of the Savage Land.

SCOUT: WAR SHAMAN #15

“Sweet Revenge”
Writer: Timothy Truman
Artists: Timothy Truman & Ricardo Villagran

Redwire has Scout’s young sons hostage. There is nothing Scout can do but surrender. Now Redwire decides to fight Scout with his implanted blades in his hands. Scout gives a good accounting for himself using just his bare hands. Redwire decides to end the fight and draws his pistol. His son Victor uses his psychic ability to basically blow up Redwire’s head and save his father. The boys are reunited but it looks like a short lived happy reunion. Rosa Winters uses the opportunity to get back into her leadership position and she doesn’t look like she wants the let Scout go in peace.

“On the Prod”
Writer: Beau Smith
Artist: Todd Fox

La Duke comes in on his motorcycle guns blazing. He frees Rita and the two start to shoot up Atuma’s pirates. Still numbers are not in their favor so they set off some grenades and blow up the weapons so Atuma and Redwire can’t use them. The ending finds the two in a bar. Rita didn’t get any bounty money. La Duke didn’t get the guns for Scout. Rita suggests that they grab a six pack and see how much romancing they can get. So the day isn’t a total loss after all.

So Scout gets his final confrontation with Redwire. Once again we get to see the power that Victor his youngest son has. Rosa is now back in charge and we are left with a what next? A short story but effective and we are coming to the end of Scout’s epic story.

The La Duke story was also a fun one. Plenty of action and wisecracking from the good ole boy from West Virginia. He also gets the girl at the end so very satisfying ending.

THE WARLORD #49

“Something Evil”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan is cleaning his pistol when Shakira comments on that he treats his pistol better than a woman. His reply is a woman couldn’t stop a charging grizzly bear. Well Shakira makes a bet that Morgan can’t resist using his pistol for the period between camps. After the bet is make they notice that they have been camped at the base of an old fortress. The fortress belonged to the Evil One. The Evil One apparently didn’t like guest because the place is littered with skeletons that were killed by elaborate traps. Some of these traps still exist. Morgan and Shakira manage to evade them and come to the final room. Using a key they found on an old skeleton they open the treasure door. Inside is a musty old mummy. Morgan manages to reduce it to dust with his sword. At the end he instinctively draws his pistol and shoots a leopard that followed them inside losing the bet.

Meanwhile a separate story is told on the bottom panels. The last Wizard World story had a little green demon recovering the Book of the Dead in the volcano that lord Sarrgon Fire-Eye lived in. This demon recites an incantation that turns it into the Evil One. The Evil One takes over Sarrgon’s place and enslaves him. Sarrgon at the end manages to send a message to Mongo. Also at the end Jennifer Morgan is confronted by Deimos who is now a head mounded on his hand.

“Hands Across the Hells”
Writer: Jack C. Harris
Artist: Thomas Yeates

Claw and the demon who has the human hand face off on the battlefield after a brief flashback that shows their ancestors forbidden rites that resulted in the curse. Both want their hands back and an epic fight starts. It goes on with both getting nowhere. The beautiful human queen stops the fight with a proposition. They should face a ceremony that will decide their fate. So on a full moon night the three stand atop a mountain. Claw and the demon grasp hands as the queen holds up a knife. All three are on floating magic circles and below is Jarmal the Lord of Death. Looks like a giant Venus Flytrap. So Claw is quick enough to grab the knife and cut off the human hand from the demon. The demon falls into the maw of Jarmal. The victory is pyhrric as the hand belonged to his ancestor and turns to dust. They end up celebrating their victory.

So this was an enjoyable little story. A spooky old castle full of traps and a friendly little wager. Shakira is the perfect companion for Morgan and this story illustrated the chemistry. Its sort of a filler until the big fifty issue final. We already get a hint with the appearance of Deimos as a head mounded on a hand. Its not a surprise that he is alive but it sure is creepy. I did wonder what he looked like after he was chopped into pieces and sure enough not to good. Grell also uses the separate storyline going on in the panels at the bottom of the page. It complements the current story and sets up for a future story. Quite an ingenious idea.

Claw ends with this second part. We get a fun little fight and some background into the curse. They decided to not pursue this character in future issues. I enjoyed Claw and did eventually collect the brief series that came out before this. Someday I will go over it but while I enjoyed Claw the backup feature that comes next was better.