Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No. 48
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Jackson "Butch" Guice. I'm not an unmitigated fan -- I find much of his art can be stiff, and while he's strong on composition he can also be very weak on narrative. But, boy, he's a pretty good fit here.

What's somewhat exciting to me about this particular issue -- almost fifty issues in -- is that we're finally starting to see the Micronauts I actually know, despite knowing very little about them at the time.

The premise of this series of posts is that I've always heard that The Micronauts was a great book, but I'd never read it. Collecting the series almost entirely from quarter bins and used book stores, I waited to read anything until I had a complete set, and even then to not read ahead. Week by week, you and I are enjoying my initial experience as it happens.

I hope Bioship means what I think he means...

I never mentioned it, but I had read a little Micronauts when I was younger. Thanks to someone in Tucson, ca. 1984, having dropped their entire collection of Marvel UK comics as a local used bookstore, I was in possession of approximately one-third of one issue of the Micronauts and X-Men crossover. And from that excerpt, I knew that -- among other things -- Biotron was very large, that Rann had a beard and was very depressed. AND HERE WE GET THAT!

Rann brings the badly enervated body of Devil aboard the Bioship, the enormous replica spaceship which the Soul Survivors had dropped in the ocean upon breaching the Spacewall. Like all roboids, Bioship is part organic -- in fact, he's got a huge gross brain in the middle of his bridge, and it's sucked up all of Nanotron's and Microtron's memories, leaving them well dead.

It was, however, deliberate. Resembling Biotron and possessing the potential to replace the Micronauts' much-missed original vessel, The Endeavor, Microtron and Nanotron donate their memories of Biotron to the Bioship, so that he may become more like the original roboid. With Rann's memories -- gleaned telepathically throughout a 1,000-year journey and as comprehensive as the deceased Biotron's own memories -- Bioship now lives, completely, effectively indistinguishable from the original roboid on whose likeness he was based. Except people live inside him now.

"It's just much grosser than you remember."

Even toys and accessories are recreated, all the little ships and cars and cute stuff that you'd bug your parents to buy from the Sears catalog are replicated from nothing and stored somewhere equivalent to one's nuts or pancreas or whatever. Things have gotten weird.

While Bioship uses his shrinking powers to bring what Rann believes are the only surviving Micronauts back to the Microverse, things are hectic back on Homeworld. Bug, Acroyear and Pharoid are still prisoners of DeGrayde and the Death Squad, but Slug and Belladonna have successfully used the Star Scepter to intimidate a bunch of Body Bank technicians into returning them to their rightful bodies. Let's see how that plays out.

Marionette, go on Chapo.

While the fellas get ready to compete for Argon's entertainment in the wedding day gladitorial games, Marionette is assaulting a nearby weather control tower. She's confronted there by Huntarr, the snot-in-boots which Argon occasionally sends to fight the good guys. Marionette not only just slays the twerp, she gives him revolutionary dogma with both barrels, confusing and possibly swaying the big ball of slime. I've seen the covers to Micronauts: The New Voyages, so I know how this ends, I just didn't know how we got there.

Devil is dying! Rann is returning to the Microverse! Biotron is back, sort of, and we're finally heading towards the climax of the battle with Force Commander! And issue 50 is just around the corner. Congratulations are in order.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Costumed Freak? Terrorizes ... Wait'll they get a load of me!
(w/a Marvin Stevens)

Wham-O Giant Comics has something for everybody -- a little sci-fi here, some fantasy there, a former Green Beret bellyaching his way through a two-page adventure on a neanderthal's back. No one gets left out!

I literally have no idea who Marvin Stevens is, and the few credits I've been able to find haven't been any more illuminating. What I can say about him is that he can turn in a two page adventure which truly speaks to me, inasmuch as I like to complain about my job all the time, too.

Captain Valoren is a former Green Beret, briefly laid low by a bout of malaria. When an obese menace called The Toad begins to assail a South American scientific outpost, Valoren is the only agent they can think to send -- lingering side effects of malaria and all!

That's the Captain in the back ...
"He's a moody character" opines the co-pilot on a plane carrying Valoren to his destination, speculating "What's the mystery, is he a Martian or something?" The pilot replies "More like a one-man army, from what I hear." Yep, Valoren is outfitted with the latest in military gear, intended to resolve any situation. Unfortunately, they don't apply to most situations, leaving the Captain to improvise frequently.

For instance, when his transport plane is shot down over the jungle, Valoren has absolutely no gear or devices handy to help him make an escape. He struggles to bring the plane in for a landing and, being the only survivor, then puts on a set of advanced underwater gear and fucks off below the dirty waters of the mock-Amazon. Later, he'll cut his wrist restraints with a gimmicked wristwatch. THAT'S IT FOLKS!

In fact, most of the heavy lifting is done by a strange, hulking caveman-type -- the book's second! -- whom Valoren discovers in the middle of the jungle. Stupefying the dope with a blast of compressed oxygen, Valoren climbs on the caveman's back when a dizzy spell overtakes him, and then points him at the bad guys until they've all been murdered.

In the end, Captain and the caveman destroy the Toad and then dash off together, ideally to form an early-1970s sitcom ...

I hate when they fat-shame the bad guys.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

Arcane's evil deeds come back to haunt him (again) and he basically gets off scot-free (again) but, trust me, I've watched ahead -- they'll come back to this premise time and again.

I really shouldn't bust too hard on this brand of episode or, in fact, this episode specifically. It's weird, it's not bad, and Arcane having an actual character arc -- dealing with his obvious mental illness, the wild mood swings, the possible effect that his experimentation has had on his well-being and the psychic assaults committed upon him by his enemies (La Roche, Mirador, DuChamp's daughter, etc) -- is good. 

No small part of this episode will involve Graham selflessly cock-blocking his mentor.

For one thing, Swamp Thing's arcs have all been played out -- the only things left to him are either death or being cured, either of which would end the show. Arcane is the only recurring character with the background (and Chapman's the only other recurring actor with the chops) to pull off an arc, AND it creates room for Graham to develop his character. Really, if the show's writers were willing to integrate the branches of the cast a little more, they could loop Will and Tressa into this thread and create something for them, as well.

So, basically, Arcane's nervous breakdowns are giving the show life, and I'm happy to see it. Specifically, we see him throwing a screaming fit because his latest findings have been rejected by the scientific community. Their constant refusal to acknowledge his intellectual achievements cause Arcane real pain (for his sham friends), and Graham's condolences mean nothing.

"I'm fwum Modewn-Wodewn Science..."

BUT WAIT! "Modern Science" magazine has sent their sexiest reporter to interview Arcane, apparently using a "sexy baby" voice which is patently gruesome. Just. Just awful. 

In fact, the reporter is not a reporter at all, and Graham knew it all along. Which is why it's stupid that he let her into Arcane's office in the first place, but whevs. She turns out to be not a reporter for "Modern Science" magazine, a name which continues to crack me up since it obviously took eight seconds to think up, but is also Katherine St.James (Peggy O'Neal), the daughter of the late General Sunderland!

For those of you new to the show, or who just don't memorize this stuff WHICH IS TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE, Sunderland was Arcane's boss for a whole season, and a little into the next. He was also responsible for abducting and appearing to kill and then actually killing Arcane's true love, Tatiana, who used to live under a sneeze guard in Arcane's lab.

But Sunderland's daughter knows none of that, so when she seduces Arcane into a romantic dinner and spikes his wine, she's earned the worst toast in bad guy history: "To the power of revenge!"

The more you do it, the more he'll start to like it.

While she's in unconscious Arcane's lab, pouring acid on his records (scientific records, not, like, his vinyl collection) and setting up powerful explosives all around the plant, Swamp Thing gets a telepathic montage sequence which catches him up on the story. I don't know why. Also, the acid she uses burns paper and goes right through filing cabinets but lands clean-as-you-please in a plastic wastebasket. Those are two things from this episode which I didn't understand.

St.James hauls the woozy Arcane out into Houma proper, to watch his plant explode from a safe distance. What she doesn't know is that Swamp Thing is in there disarming bombs, which is strangely hilarious and I wish he did it more often. 

"Blinded ... by the ... light ... !"

When St.James detonates to now-inactive devices, one which Swamp Thing missed is set off. The small explosion distracts her, and she and Arcane begin karate fighting in the street. He kicks her so many times that it is plainly uncomfortable to watch. Both Chapman and O'Neal seemed to have some stunt training but only as much as was needed for Arcane to kick a woman a bunch of times and for O'Neal to act like she got kicked mostly...

But the kicking and getting-kicked goes on and then they stumble into a storefront and a weird Saul Bass effect happens and they fall onto a tiny replica of Houma and then all Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice style they end up IN the tiny replica of Houma! Oh ... no? I think they got sent to Cool World. 

Now you're in Cool World too!

Their fight continues in the tiny Houma, with the ominous silhouette of Swamp Thing occasionally crossing their path. The real Swamp Thing is trying to plug up a toxic leak caused by the explosion, so whatever's showing up in tiny Cool World isn't him -- and it's casting huge, terrifying shadows over everything!

To make matters worse, while Arcane and his opponent are Wile E. Coyote kickfighting all over the Land of the Giants, St.James keeps getting flashbacks to her childhood. Her childhood was apparently in 1880, by the way, because she's dressed like Nellie Olsen and watching a wind-up carousel in a shop window. 

I got no screencaps of that, but here's St.James getting kicked a coupla times.

In her memory, she recalls her father (Jacob Witkin, rounding out his multitude of appearances on the show) involved in some shadowy transaction. As time passes, she remembers that her father was shooting a man. This lowers her father in her estimation. Tsk. Millennials and their purity tests.

That's pretty much the ending of the episode. Swamp Thing stuffs a drainage pipe with wet newspaper, saving the swamp. Katherine St.James leaves Houma, struggling with the awakened memories of her father's cruelty. Arcane basically is unchanged, except now we know he owns a butterfly knife.

She sort of wandered into Night Gallery when no one was looking...

Oh, and the shadow that was occasionally cast across the tiny town ... WAS A CAAAAAAT! I don't know why! The end!


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No. 47
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Mike Vosburg / Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Mike Vosburg is your guest penciler for this issue, but Bulandi doesn't do much for these lines and forms either. Vosburg has never been a great artist, but he's a clean and unambiguous artists, and none of that survives Bulandi's inks. I hate to keep making mention of this, because it almost feels like this is becoming a hit blog on Danny Bulandi, but he's not landing his inks for the most part. Or maybe I am just being fussy, on account of both Devil and the Death Squad are back in this issue. Aw boogers.

When we last saw Microtron and Nanotron, they were plummeting into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. "They can drown!" reminds the caption, "They can die!" It's a convenient reminder, inasmuch as the last Roboid we saw die was Biotron, and his sacrifice is gonna be sort-of important RIGHT NOW.  This is because the two diminutive roboids find, at the bottom of their descent, a giant replica of their dead friend Biotron! Weird!
"How could this POSSIBLY go wrong, Commander?"

It makes a little more sense as we return to the island from last issue and discover why the gummy orange weirdos who live there worship Rann and the Time Travellers as gods. The short and very predictable version is that one of the thousands of alien races visited by Rann and Biotron during their expedition of the farthest reaches of the Microverse, that race, turns out they weren't ready for a telepathic robot and a floaty hologram of a guy whose every atom was just rattling with the Enigma Force to show up and introduce them to the idea of space gods. WHOOPS. It broke them.

The beings of Sylos VII end up forming a Cargo Cult, except that theirs pays dividends. Over a startlingly brief period -- less than a thousand years, of course -- the Sylosians go from squatting in thatched huts to building a dimension-piercing spaceship in the form of their demigod, Biotron. Attempting to break the Spacewall, the whole race is turned into novelty erasers, and discover that they can suck the living energy out of any being! Well, neat! Dubbing themselves, for no reason I can discern, "The Soul Survivors," they continue the gospel of Arcturus Rann on a deserted island of wrecked planes. This seems symbolic.

Back on Homeworld: Acroyear, Bug and the enervated Prince Pharoid are cornered by the Death Squad. Frankly, Pharoid -- even half-dead and wielding a depleted Star Sceptre -- is so much more useful than Devil. And yet we never get him stuffed down our throats. Anyway, unfortunately, a platoon of Dog Soldiers tips the scales significantly enough that the trio surrenders, giving the Death Squad a completely unearned "W." As our heroes are hauled off, though, Slug and Belladonna (who seem to have spent the last five episodes aimlessly wandering the corridors of Argon's palace) find the Star Scepter -- it might be their last chance to return to their original bodies!

I honestly feel like Pharoid could take down the worst of 'em.

Marionette is elsewhere, literally stabbing priests and cops to death, reminding me of why she is increasingly becoming my favorite character in this book. Marionette does not fuck around. So when she confronts Huntarr, the weird "living weapon" from Argon's Body Banks, it promises to be an engaging battle. Next issue, though.

On Earth, Devil is messing up the Soul Survivors' origin story, leaping at them from trees and yelling and basically just making party fouls across the board. Amazingly, the Soul Survivors know just how to handle him:

(A) They link hands and reproduce Fireflyte's music, calming the stupid beast.
(B) They use their psionic vampirism to kill him, mostly.

I choose B!

Rann rushes to defend his tempestuous ally, but it's an unexpected ally who saves the day -- it's the big ship that looks like Biotron, shooting missiles and stuff rather needlessly at the Soul Survivors! Dang! Next month: Resurrection! How promising!

Thursday, March 8, 2018


(w/a Wally Wood)

It's probably ill-mannered to wonder if Wally Wood ever bristled at any panel he had to draw that was devoid of fat jugs and fucking. It's fair to suggest that his more innocent work always seems to bear no small load of tension, as though we are continuously no more than a panel or two away from a bellowed "FUCK!" and a gangbang.

But maybe that's just me. Wood's art is so deliciously physical that his comedy and kid-friendly pieces feel like they're taking place in a carefully-shielded section of mature readers titles. Goody Bumpkin, for instance, feels like a kindergarten-class re-enacting Pogo plots, but I still expected to see Sally Forth pop up in the bushes.

But enough of that, I think the point is not only fairly clear but also often-remarked upon and a pretty common sentiment. Even if this all isn't really true of Wood's art, it may say something of how comics have encouraged an adolescent hegemony in its readership. Honestly, these things are no good for anybody. We should call the cops on 'em.
Socialism will win.

As for Goody Bumpkin, it really does feel like a (mostly) human Pogo strip. Giant Man-Monster "Whatnot" is bereft on accounta the top-hatted wizard Rufus Rottenbad has transformed the giant's mother into a frog. With the aid of his many pals (Moppet -- identified by the phrase "Goody's my hero!" -- his pet dog, wisecracking crow, and Madcap, the weird elf in a weirder hat) he sets off to -- sue the wizard! It's a pun and it works!

Along the way, the gang meet "Hindu Stan," and encounter a mass of trolls at their troll bridge (they demand a fight and get put on the receiving end of a haymaker-tossing Whatnot). At Rottenbad's castle, they defeat the palace guards, recover Stan's stolen flying carpet, and have Rufus return Whatnot's momma to original size and state.

With all of this being said, by the way, I just need to add -- this is great fun. Almost certainly the highlight of the comic, and a great example of how Wally Wood could really just toss off a bunch of dumb puns and seemingly pointless meandering and keep you entertained all the while. Also, just to reiterate, there are no naked boobs.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

It's another ding-dang hurricane in the heart of Houma, and this one's expected to be the worst in fifty years! But any conversation about the hurricane is only going to bury the lede of this episode, which is that Swamp Thing says at one point these following words: "Don't the good times count for anything?" I don't know if you can understand the magic generated by Dick Durock, under a heap of craft glue and collard greens, pleading with another character to please, if they have a heart left, just remember the good times. Even in my memory, I head it half in a Swamp Thing voice and half in a Matthew McConaughey voice. "Don't the ... good tahms ... count fuhr ... uhnnythahng?"

Swamp Thing is absolutely loaded with good'uns this episode, including one line where he describes hurricanes as "nature's cleansing tool." If it were that good a cleansing tool, it would lease us with fewer Kipps, but instead we get one -- no, two! -- more!

In this scene, Will is wandering through the swamp looking for Swamp Thing, who is right fucking there behind a bush. I get that we're supposed to suspend enough disbelief to accept that this enormous ham dinner in a compostable shopping bag is effectively invisible against the foliage of his marshland home, but HE IS STANDING RIGHT THERE WILL

Will has entreated Swamp Thing to join him and Tressa at Stately Kipp Manor. Our hero refuses the honor on account of he belongs in the swamp, the swamp is him, the swamp wants him to stay, et cetera and so on. Swamp Thing has a lot of colorful excuses for why he'd rather not be stuck in a powerless swamp shack playing UNO with either of those idiots. Instead he chooses to weather the storm in the swamp, which is a real burn on that legendary Kipp hospitality. Since his plan involves "standing in one spot holding onto a small tree," I don't think he really needed to be out in the bad weather.

Over at the Kipp household, Tressa's long lost sister Leslie Langford (Jan Waterhouse) shows up, and Tressa is pissed! "My sister died a long time ago" she intones as she turns on her heel and slams the front door behind her. Not well, mind you, but that's what she does.

Will really rocking the moccasins/pit stains/off-brand Indiana Jones hat/cargo diaper look.

Just to skip ahead, the reason Tressa hates her sister so much is that Leslie went backpacking in Europe and got married while she was there. That's quite a burn, how can the family unite? Tressa particularly holds Leslie's absence against her, inasmuch as that left Tressa all alone to care for their dying mother during the Langford matriarch's difficult last days. Long-time readers might recall that Tressa's mother was obliquely murdered on Anton Arcane's orders, and she in fact didn't waste away. But then again Tressa seems to have difficulty remembering important details about her immediate family being killed by Arcane.

For instance, IT TURNS OUT THAT JIM IS ALIVE AND THEY FOUND HIM AND BROUGHT HIM BACK TO AMERICA at some point they forgot to show us. Look around your work areas, your chairs and desks -- perhaps once of you fucking dropped the fucking episode where they fucking found fucking Jim.

They found an actress with equal Tressa-face.
This is tremendous bullshit, by the way. After buying the death-by-exploding bicycle story in the first place, then sporadically hunting Jim Kipp down in South America, they just -- poof, he's back. He's "safe, with his dad," says Tressa, referring to the man whom, only a few episodes back, was portrayed as an emotionally abusive and criminally unreliable individual. I'm glad Jim's in a safe place, all right.

Anyway. Swamp Thing suggesting that Tressa remember the good times (as referenced above) leads her to reminisce about the only home movie she and her sister were ever in, which is seventeen seconds long and slowed down dramatically to fill time. All the good times were shot on 35mm, I guess.

The phone is from the Seventies, the suit is from the Forties, and I think that TV antenna is from space.

The family thing isn't interesting -- this is the fifth or sixth episode of Swamp Thing:Osage County we've had to sit through, and the family dynamics are never all that interesting. Any family squabble that can be solved with advice from a 385-lb bag of baby carrots doesn't possess a lot of gravitas, you know?

But all of a sudden the whole thing turns into Johnny Mnemonic. Turns out Leslie's late husband stole some computer discs from a guy called Espinosa (Ed Amatrudo) and he's coming after her! Thanks for leading them to Will and Tressa -- I'm not saying that sarcastically, I'm honestly grateful. Because it means Will is going to get smacked around and I am for that.

"Don't fuck around with ... Swamp House!"

Espinosa and his men invade the Kipp home, but only after Will utters literally the funniest line I think he's ever had: As the sisters are hiding the computer discs in a secret sconce in the pantry, Will exclaims "I didn't know we had a secret hiding place!" Yeah, Will, it's secret ...

Swamp Thing abandons his swamp penance long enough to brave the eye of the hurricane and wale the tar out of Espinosa and his men, Roadhouse-style. He also plaintively calls Will's name during the point when the storm got worse, which was sort of romantic and sweet in a swampy sort of way. Then the family issue is resolved? And the storm is over. And. Oh, and Espinosa pronounced in "Home-Uh" and I am really uncertain as to the pronunciation of "Houma" and I don't want to look it up.

Y'all come back next week now, y'hear?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No. 46
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Luke McDonnell / Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

It's a complicated and troubled episode of Micronauts as the triple-title business is dropped in favor of the umbrella title for the first two chapters: "Adrift*." It's a word which accurately describes everything happening in the book this month, including the art team! With Kane abruptly disappearing after issue 45, the highly underrated Luke McDonnell signs on to pencil this issue. It would have been too much to hope to have Carl Potts come back as inker, because I strongly feel that those two would have made a killer pairing, but we make do with Bulandi again.

Bulandi has more credits in this series than anyone besides Mantlo and Shooter, even including colorists and letterers. He is, in his way, more responsible for the look of this book than Michael Golden is, at this point. And yet he never seems to really fit in. Bulandi's contributions still stick out like a sore thumb. What a strange contribution to the legacy.

Whatever the case, hot shit continues to happen apace! The separated groups of Micronauts face distinct challenges, with the trio of Marionette, Acroyear and Bug facing off against the power-mad Argon in Homeworld and Rann facing off against his persistent and recurrent failures. 

I hate how this guy constantly makes such a fucking huge presentation about everything he does but never apologizes for almost murdering everyone every time the radio cuts out.

Behind a gory, lurid cover which recalls Men's Adventure magazines of the 50s and 60s, Rann faces a continuing series of losses and panic. Believing the three coolest Micronauts to have been killed by lame supervillain Doctor Nemesis, the leader of the team must also rescue the remaining three 'Nauts from Arcade's sinking deathtrap in the middle of the ocean. Devil, almost consistently savage at this point, refuses to be rescued, despite the briny fate awaiting him. Nanotron didn't get any sort of flight attachment, or if she did she traded 'em in for those robot tits.

While Rann figures out his shit, we catch up with Marionette, who is still falling from Argon's tower. She manages to acrobatically spare herself a flat and splattered future, but nonetheless scarpers to lick her wounds. Argon crows in his throne room, exposing at last his weird all-energy self to his subordinates (and reminding chief scientist DeGrayde of his former boss, Karza).

These two are growing on me, even though they mostly wander the palace halls chatting like a tiny, weird West Wing.

In between this, we get a taste of Slug's origin story. As an infant, she loses both parents -- her father to the Body Banks, her mother to Karza's seraglio -- and is herself carelessly abandoned somewhere in the Banks. Rebels later rescue her during a raid, although that still fails to account for something like twenty years' worth of origin. I can fill in some of the blanks, but it seems like there's good story-ifying there for the writer inclined to follow it.

Acroyear and Bug free Pharoid from imprisonment in Argon's torture chambers, but are stopped on their way to rescue Slug by shadowy figures. "Holy shrew!" shouts Bug, "Not *tik* them!!" They set it up as a cliffhanger but it's the Death Squad, characters who have never done anything and aren't remotely interesting. But they're bad guys and the book is a little slim on them, I just wish they were more relevant and capable of carrying backstories...

Owning the sound effects championships for this issue.

Back on Earth, Microtron figures out that he can play recordings of Fireflyte's song, thereby calming the savage Devil. Rann carries the peaceful beast and Microtron clutches Nanotron as he uses one of his arms as a propeller, and the quartet head out over the ocean. Now, if Rann and Microtron had switched partners, the next thing wouldn't have happened, but they didn't ask my opinion: Nanotron, being as useful as always, slips from Microtron's grasp and plunges into the ocean. Microtron follows desperately, leaving Devil devoid of the soothing song of Fireflyte. Since he's riding on Rann's back, this means that he gets savage again and tries to murder Rann.

In one of my favorite moments of the book, RANN RETURNS THE FAVOR, taking potshots at Devil as he leaves the big dope to drown in the ocean.

Overcome by a powerful wave (relatively speaking), Arcturus is swept away from Devil, and is delivered on a desolate island. He is rescued by tiny orange weirdos who look like if aliens tried to make human sex dolls based entirely on that golden record they shot into space. They carry his weakened form through a graveyard of downed planes and forgotten vessels, an island full of bleached skeletons of sailors and pilots.

But they kind of do look like Jeff Sessions.

Under the cathedral arch of a dead mans ribcage, Rann is positioned in a Hibernation Couch throne, and bowed to by his saviors, who refer to him as Time Traveler. What's going on! Wow! Good stuff!

In the backmatter, a couple pages of Kane's sketches are tossed in, possibly to offset the loss of the legendary great. There's also a No-Prize delivered for the same mistake which was noticed here in our comments section a little ways back -- Dr.Doom referring to himself as Vincent Von Doom ...

Thursday, March 1, 2018


(w/a Sururi Gumen)

The Wham-O Giant Comics collection offers more to its young readers than mere adventure, action, eyestrain and neck-pain. Yep, in addition to high-flying action in space and beyond, they also craft magical realist dramas of existential import in which death makes itself known in spandex.

It is the year 2068, and the spacelanes are under the dominion of the villainous space pirate Captain Blud, and his sinister ship The Serpentis! Blud and his robot crew prey on prospectors in the inky void. One victim carries an unknown element in his cargo hold, sending Captain Blud into a tizzy -- what good is an unknown element, after all? "The actinic refraction counter gives no indication of any known element!" he blares of the dull, orange rock, "It's all absolutely worthless!"

That's clearly untrue, as science would surely lose their shit over a new element. Still, Blud sends all but a handful of the rock into a nearby sun, along with the bound and helpless prospector. Typically, in a story like this, the hero would swoop in at the nick of time and save the helpless old sock avoid a fiery death. This does not happen. The prospector sort of basically is just killed in one tiny panel.

Skip Savage: Olympian, scientist, two kids in an overcoat...
Meanwhile on Earth, Olympic athlete/scientist/action hero Dr.Skip Savant is leading the search for the elusive Savantium, an element they don't even know really exists! But if it does, he's got dibs on naming it evidently. I call all future elements, they're all gonna be called "Poopium," sorry, I called it.

The Earth of 2068 is strangely prescient -- "Decades of uncontrolled and negligent pollution of the entire planet's limited air and fresh water, together with a gigantic and ever-expanding population has created a worldwide crisis that grows more somber by the second!" If there's a Cheeto-colored Troll doll running the country, then this comic is Nostradamus.

Savant leads the call to build massive rockets to take humanity to better digs, and let's just take all the obvious problems with that plan as written. The Savantium -- if he could find any -- would fuel them all with ease, but where to find it? Well, Sam happens to stumble across the aforementioned remnant while passing a "Space Salvage Store." Yeah, you remember the place before they put in all these space salvage stores? Used to be pecan trees as far as the eyes can see...

Blud hears about Savantium's value and abducts Savant, stealing the last piece of the element while simultaneously carefully avoiding the mention of how he USED to have a spaceship full of this stuff but he threw it into the sun. Butterfingers! To hide his embarrassment, he sends Savant to suffocate on a lifeless asteroid.

Dig this naturalistic dialogue.
Which is when it gets weird. All on the third page of a three-page adventure, Savant is: Saved by a future spaceman, Antares, decked out in a banana-colored costumed and handing out "the spectrum of energy that radiates from the entire cosmos." This gives Skip a red costume, insane super-powers, and access to Antares' super-fast ship.

In short order, Skip boards Blud's ship, destroys every robot pirate beats the tar out of Blud and recovers the Savantium. Unfortunately, while the Serpentis is sent back to Earth with Blud as prisoner, Skip must stay in space. Antares informs him that Skip is now dependent on cosmic energy in space and cannot survive in Earth's polluted environment.

Folks, he's dead. Everything from the part where he suffocated in space and was saved by Antares? That's got to be a Terry Gilliam End-Of-Brazil-style hallucination. Blud stole the Savantium, everyone on Earth chokes to death and Skip is dead. Everything else is just fantasy. Enjoy that story, kids? Don't worry, you'll star in one much like it eventually...

The cold comfort of a fading mind palace...

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

Will has picked up a nifty new girlfriend, Justine (Donna Rosa), but her malevolent, hulking father (Peter Palmer) is having none of it. When Will shows up later to daddy's fine dining establishment -- SWAMP FISH GRILL -- with a conciliatory offering a fresh crawdads, the problem of the disapproving father solves itself. A nervous gunman runs in, swats Will stupid, murders the dad and, thinking fast, sticks the gun in Will's unconscious mitt. I like this guy, he knows how to treat Will.

By the next scene, Will is in jail being visited by his Prosecuting Attorney, the local DA or something, a slimy rat named Kingdon (Dennis Bowen). Evidently, the hateful, twisted Kingdon has a rep for faking or ignoring evidence which ends up sending dozens of innocent -- or nearly-innocent -- men to prison, or the electric chair. It seems harsh but, remember, this is Will we're talking about.

Kingdon and Will actually worked well together because they had equally shrill oafishness in common.

The man who shot Justine's daddy, by the bye, turned out to be in Arcane's employ, and was only supposed to have threatened the old man into selling his restaurant. I think Arcane wanted to build a luxury bait shop there? I dunno. Also, the guy with the gun is probably a mutant Un-Man now, I sort of checked out during that scene.

It's not the most dynamic episode of Swamp Thing, in part because it's sloppy and in part because Will can't carry a whole episode. And for once I'm not taking a shot -- Will has no appreciable backstory, no consistency, his role is poorly defined, and none of it is Scott Garrison's fault. The part where he shouts most of his lines kind of is, but he's innocent of the other charges. Uh, both in the story and metaphorically, I guess.

Liftin' them swamp-weights

But, for instance, when Justine asks Will if he misses anything from Philadelphia, Will says "Cheeseteak sandwiches." Just let that one sit with you for a moment, but also note that he didn't name a place. You name a place. When I talk about foods I miss from Tucson, it's "El Charro" and "Guero Canelo" and "La Indita," not "Burrito sandwiches" for crying out loud. I'm not Philadelphian but I visit enough and have enough friends there to know you're gonna say like "Jim's on South Street," which is also the right answer. I bet Will eats at Geno's. Not that he's racist, he's just been eating there since high school and he thinks "eh he's got a point, you know? Hey, can I get a wooder?"

Anyway. Will is hounded by this DA or whatever he is, despite the fact that there's exculpatory evidence out there, presuming I used "exculpatory" correctly. With a pickle like this in place, there's only one solution -- come on, Team Swamp Thing, let's do a smoke-and-black-soundstage MINDFUCK!

Flashdance (1983)

Will arranges to have Kingdon abducted, tied up in a darkened factory, and awakened by a splash of water to his face. This is either going to get unnerving or erotic. Ultimately, Will torments Kingdon with images of the innocent men he'd sent to the chair, stepping out of the smoke in turn, speaking their piece with a pinlight shining under their chins. It's like Reservoir Dogs meets a Christmas Carol.

It all comes to a head when the frustrated Kingdon rants explosively a defense of his bloodthirstiness and ambition, his lack of concern for justice or the living, for right or goodness, for puppies and kitties, for sugar and spice, for OH SHIT IS THAT HIS 6 YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER STANDING THERE LISTENING TO EVERY WORD oh daddy, you effed up.

"Hey pop."

So, the guy collapses, defeated, ready to confess to his crimes and betrayal of the public trust. And this is where this episode apparently was some sort of actual mindfuck for the audience, because it turns out to have been staged. We've had two other mindfuck sequences caused directly by Swamp Thing, another staged by Arcane's oxygen deprivation, and now ... there was literally a guy with a smoke machine. All the convicts were the sons and brothers of the condemned men. I mean, they actually did kidnap the guy and tie him to a chair and throw water in his face and terrorize him and oh I forgot THEY ALSO ABDUCTED HIS DAUGHTER. The media was also there to promptly interview the guy, which means maybe they were in on it too. Everybody's going to jail, except Swamp Thing and Arcane. That might've been the plan all along.

Look, they're bobbing for apples together! They're pals now!

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