Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

November 2nd, 2014, 6:52 pm #91

Legends of the Dark Knight #62 (KnightsEnd part 4)
The final disciple comes after Bruce-- he's sort of like Bane meets Storm Shadow. Bruce determines that the Tengu mask has a tracker in it, and that the assassins will keep coming unless he ends this, permanently. Using the "strike of the leopard", Bruce caves in the guy's sinuses, KILLING him... just a Nightwing and Robin arrive to witness it.

Jean-Paul still hasn't found LeHah, but is closing on the gunrunners and their boss, Mr. Selkirk. He fights a guy in a armored battle-suit (kinda' looks like Marvel's Cable), as they torch a shipping dock.

Robin #8 (KnightsEnd part 5)
Lady Shiva appears, saying that her plan has worked; she's gotten Batman to kill. Pleased with herself, she leaves and tells the remaining ninjas/assassins that this beef with the Tengu mask is over.

After Shiva leaves, the final assassin wakes up. Bruce went beyond learning the killing blow; he mastered it so much that he used it to not kill. Things are tied up with Shiva and it's now down to Bruce vs. Jean-Paul. Bruce successfully makes his leap from Wayne Tower, as he re-dons the traditional Batman costume.

A quick interlude at Blackgate Prison shows BANE waking up from a comatose state. He envisions bats flying through his window and says: "he's back". Okay... but we won't see Bane vs Batman for more than two years.

Catwoman #12 (KnightsEnd Part 6)
Catwoman's been after Selkirk for other reason: she wants to still a "neural enhancer" that he's been using to create armored battle-suits. She tracks it to Selkirk's penthouse, just as Jean-Paul arrives. Jean-Paul FINALLY finds a connection to LeHah: one of Selkirk's men was part of the group that killed his father, back in "Sword of Azrael #1". He prepares to kill the guy... just as the real Batman arrives!

Batman #510 (KnightsEnd Part 7)
It's Bruce (Batman) vs. Jean-Paul (Azrael), round two. Batman verbally dresses him down, citing the deaths he's caused and saying handing over the cape to JP was the biggest mistake he's ever made. They duke it out, as Selkirk's men struggle to leave. Catwoman pursues Selkirk into his chopper, which Bruce manages to hook with Azrael's grapnel, pulling both of them into mid-air after the chopper.

Azrael is actually called "AzBats" by Nightwing. Azrael's metal wings are covered with bloody splotches, beginning a fairly sudden change in his armor's coloring that'll be completed, soon. He's also shown as being completely loony, now. Talking to his ghosts and obsessed with his mission to kill people.
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Erick Von Erich
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November 4th, 2014, 5:42 pm #92

Shadow of the Bat #30 (KnightsEnd Part 8)
The chopper dragging the two Batmen crashes on top of a bridge (Gotham's version of NYC's Washington or Brooklyn Bridges). Catwoman and Batman work together to save the chopper occupants. Well, most of them...as it appears Selkirk and the "guy who killed Azrael's father" die in an explosion.

Batman and Azrael duke it out on the suspension cables of the bridge, with Az falling into the chopper explosion. Batman takes a moment to try to enter the Batmobile... but it's been booby-trapped and explodes. Everyone thinks Batman is DEAD. Azrael survives, with his armor now completely red-- due to blood, gas and who knows what else.

Detective Comics #677 (KnightsEnd Part 9)
Thinking Batman's dead, Nightwing pummels Azrael. Their fight leads them to the river and onto a gambling party boat. Nightwing holds his own, but Azrael seems to be the victor. The GCPD arrives, causing Azrael to split.

Batman, of course, survived the explosion. For what it's worth, that particular version of the Batmobile (the late 80's/90's hovercraft looking thing) is never used again. Azrael stumbles back to the Batcave, but notices somebody is upstairs. He makes his way and there's Batman, standing just like Bane did, back in Batman #497! Nice little reversal as we've come full-circle since Knightfall.
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Erick Von Erich
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November 4th, 2014, 6:22 pm #93

Legends of the Dark Knight #63 (KnightsEnd part 10)
The Conclusion! Azrael and Batman try to talk it out, but Az grabs the painting of Thomas Wayne and smashes it over his knee, a la Bane. Azrael runs down int the Bat-cave, but it's suddenly booby-trapped and only accessible from the usual method of going behind the big wall clock--- despite the fact that we saw no clock and the area only covered by smashed bricks in THIS ENTIRE STORY ARC.

Batman enters the Bat-cave another way-- he remembers the tiny hole he fell into, as a kid (recreated in the opening of "Batman Begins"). He sneaks in that way and confronts Azrael, again. Batman goads him on, getting him to follow him back into the small crevice. Azrael has no choice but to remove his bulky armor, so he can get closer.

Batman lures him in and then, opens the hatch to the outside. Light comes pouring in (remember: "only light can cure the darkness"). Azrael is blinded and suddenly realizes he is not Batman. Bruce and Azrael then have a bonding moment and all is (mostly) forgiven. Bruce lets Jean-Paul walk away, saying they've both "been in the darkness too long". Bruce heads towards Wayne Manor as "today he walks in the sunlight".

People were PISSED about this ending, but it works. Azrael was full-force frontal assaults, bigger guns, bigger weapons, bigger everything. Batman beat him with what he's really known for: his planning and wits. Just beating Jean-Paul to a pulp would not have been appropriate for Batman. He's not about "vengeance" or "punishment". He's about "justice" and trying to be fair. During "KnightsEnd", he realized Jean-Paul's messed up and that he needs help, not punishment. He'll actually get it, now.

Some of the themes of how you can't go EXTREME and fight fire with fire would be used again in "Kingdom Come" in 1996; only applied to all of DC's characters.

I noticed that they let Denny O'Neil (longtime "Batgroup Editor") write this story, which was significant. I've said it before, but he really understood the character of Batman. The titles lose quite a bit when he leaves, circa 2000. I don't usually teabag creative staff, but whenever someone asks me: "well how would YOU fix Batman, jackass?" I always say: "get Denny O'Neil back in there".

My only gripe was that Bane was not involved, aside from the one-page cameo which was never followed-up on. I realize now, it would've been too tidy if Bane had been included and EVERYTHING was wrapped up. DC would continue to tease us with Batman vs. Bane for the next few years. I think they had originally planned to use him in KnightsEnd, as the rematch keeps getting pushed off. They never really have a direct one-on-one rematch. Closest thing is maybe "Legacy" in the summer of 1996.



This starts a new era of, well, happiness for Batman. There's a tease in this LOTDK issue that they'll be using the old 50's Batmobile for awhile. Biggest (and coolest) thing is that Bruce takes some time off and hands the role over to Nightwing. Yes, "Nightwing as Batman". Fans finally get what they want in the resulting "Prodigal" storyline, which lasts about three months. The story itself isn't too amazing, but it's such a high to know that Master Dick IS Batman (kinda' funny how his lengthy stint in "Teen Titans/New Titans" turned out to be a whole lotta' nothin', in the end).

Azrael is initially sent to comic book limbo, but gets his own ongoing series in the middle of 1995. He's given Bruce Wayne's backing and sets off to find out the Order of St. Dumas. As a straight-up superhero comic, it kinda' sucks, but as a weird globetrotting near-fantasy adventure, it works.

Nightwing gets his own mini-series in 1995, then his own ongoing series in 1996. There's also a 1995 one-shot called: "Nightwing: Alfred's Return" which does exactly that-- Nightwing goes to England and gets Alfred to come back.

I have a few more "KnightsEnd: Aftermath" issues to babble about, but this is essentially the END of the "Knights Saga". I'll say it: Best. 90's. Crossover. Ever.

Very entertaining and, at times, thought provoking comics that ask you: "just what should the superhero genre be about"? If you've read a good sample of DC and Marvel comics from the 60's to 90's, I definitely recommend these. Understanding what was going on in the comic world in the early 90's makes these all the better.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

November 5th, 2014, 5:08 pm #94

Catwoman #13 (KnightsEnd: Aftermath)
Set right at the end of SOTB #30, as it deals with Catwoman escaping the chopper crash. Selkirk and his pilot survive, so in the end it turns out that only "guy that killed Azrael's dad" died (but it was never specifically mentioned).

Catwoman's able to acquire the neural enabler and help her friend walk again.

Robin #9 (KnightsEnd: Aftermath)
Picking up from the end of LOTDK #63, Robin reunites with Bruce in the Bat-cave. Batman has his first official return-to-action (and Gordon has fixed the Bat-signal), as they handle a hostage situation at the museum of antiquities.

Batman easily takes the thugs out, except for one, who appears to have the drop on him. Robin takes him out and tells Batman: "you missed one". Batman smiles and tells him: "no, I knew you were there". A huge step for the self-absorbed "I'll do this myself" a-hole that Batman was, going into "Knightfall".

Batman's also upset about the whole JP Valley thing. He mentions that there will be changes and that he should have a plan for every contingency. Foreshadowing his eventual departure, new costume and countless conspiracy plans. It's eventually told, in 1999, that when Batman hands things over to Master Dick in "Prodigal", he uses those months to make back-up Bat-caves all around Gotham (which come into plan in "No Man's Land").

His other plans were probably the "Tower of Babel" stuff from JLA, then the craptastic "Obsidian Age" also from JLA-- where he left Nightwing as his true successor, again. Plus any other Batman Conspiracy Plans that came to light during 1995-2011 (maybe even setting up the JLA Watchtower on the Moon, Brother Eye, etc.).
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

November 11th, 2014, 4:52 pm #95

Showcase '94 #10
Released a few months down the road, but actually takes place immediately after "KnightsEnd". Jean-Paul is wandering aimlessly, until he stumbles upon a group of bums. He listens to a parepeligic Vietnam vet tells his story; and I guess the point is that "everybody has a sob story". JP comes to the conclusion that he's human after all and wanders away.

I remember picking this up in the fall of '94 and thinking: "that's it?" They sure pulled the rug out from under Azrael, quickly. I don't think his solo series would begin for another 6 months. When it did, they had already lost momentum and fan-interest with the character.

Punisher & Batman: Deadly Knights
Batman's back on duty and runs into a mob gunfight between the Punisher, Joker and Jigsaw. Even though it's nonsensical and full of techno-babble, there's a cute little showdown between Robin and Micro Chip via computer hacking. Overall, it's really basic stuff...and I think I preferred the first Punisher crossover with Jean-Paul. That one was set in continuity (Batman's, at least) and while this one sorta' is, it makes a HUGE error by having Alfred appear. Alfred was still absent from the Bat-cave, at the time, and wouldn't return for awhile. Very strange, since regular Bat-writer Chuck Dixon was handling the duties, here. This is 100% frivolous and skipp-able.,


That's it. Officially DONE with Knightfall/KnightQuest/KnightsEnd! I might wander over to the first few issues of "Azrael", if I can find them. I only have about 1/20th of my collection, on-hand, so I'm not sure if my boxes cut-off before I alphabetically get to "Azrael".

I'd do the "Prodigal" storyline, but that kinda' stems from Zero Hour, then the "Troika" story, then into the Nightwing series, Vengeance of Bane II, Legacy, Bane of the Demon, Batman:Bane... it basically doesn't have as clear of an ending as we've got here.
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Erick Von Erich
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November 14th, 2014, 6:11 pm #96

Sixis: Avengers & X-men #1-3 (yeah, yeah, I know it's "AXIS")
Put if off for awhile... kinda' glad I did. Red Skull is killed by Magneto in Genosha and becomes "Red Onslaught", since he had Prof. Xavier's brain. All the Avengers and X-men arrive for a big fight, which they lose.

Magneto returns with a buncha' villains, all spouting sarcastic one-liners. Even the Enchantress. Huh? Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange then cast a spell and all the Onslaught stuff is ended. Prof. Xavier's lifeless body returns, leading to a falling out between the X-men and Avengers on who gets to keep the body.

I'm guessing this means the end of "Uncanny Avengers"...and I just noticed that "A+X" has been gone for a few months.

If "big changes" lasted more than 18 months in Marvel, I'd give a darn.
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Erick Von Erich
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November 20th, 2014, 5:51 pm #97

Sixis: Avengers & X-men #4
"PART TWO" of the big crossover, as the gimmick of this whole thing comes to light: people are rotating on their own moral "axis". The heroes are acting like villains and vice versa. Since MAGIC was involved, you can bet this will all be reversed in due time.

I found this issue more fun than the first 3, so that's a plus. Oh, and when did Carnage come back to life? Last I remember, he was torn apart in space by the Sentry, about 10 years ago. I really hated his character, but I was apparently in the minority.
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Erick Von Erich
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December 3rd, 2014, 3:55 pm #98

Looking at some "new" old stuff to re-read. Deciding between New Teen Titans (1981) or the original Secret Wars (with my temporary surge in interest over Star Wars crap, briefly thought about going through my old Marvel Star Wars comics, but those are super dog-shit).

Random thoughts from quickly browsing through Titans from roughly 1981-1996:
-The dialogue and "character development" is very forced. Changeling and Cyborg suddenly have a heart-to-heart about their personalities and insecurities while flying the team's plane.

-George Perez starts the series as a fairly ordinary comic artist. He really developed his distinctive (overly-detailed) style around 1983.

-I had forgotten how hot I thought Wonder Girl was, back then. One of my lowlights of 80's comic fandom was when she became "Troia", since it immediately killed her hotness. She wasn't exploited as much as Starfire eventually was-- save for a weird story with the "Titans of Old" when Hyperion basically abducts and mind-controls her because she's hot. Nothing is shown, but it's sorta' implied that they're banging each others' brains out, off-panel.

-I wonder how far back they planned for Kid Flash to take over as the real Flash? Kid Flash sorta' becomes detached from the team and whiny, circa issue 16.

-The series really loses its "cool" factor in 1984 when they decide to split it into two titles-- with a new "Direct Only/Baxter Paper" #1. They run with the direct-only "New Teen Titans" and re-title the regular book to "Tales of the New Teen Titans". After about a year, "Tales" stops publishing new stuff and reverts to running reprints of the direct-only book; exactly one year behind publication.

-Nowadays, every DC or Marvel team seems to have at least two ongoing books (look at Justice League, Avengers, X-men, etc.). Unless my timeline's wrong, it looks like New Teen Titans was the FIRST team franchise to do this, in 1984. You could count Avengers, but they didn't have two ongoing titles (with "West Coast") until 1986. I dunno', would you count "New Mutants" in 1983.. but it rarely featured the X-men.

-Brother Blood basically kicks the entire team's tushies and dominates them for about a full year. Stories fall into a basic pattern of the Titans trying to invade Blood's country of Zandia, but they keep getting turned back and have to re-group. Blood even takes a liking to Raven and makes her his main squeeze.

-Raven becomes very burdening to the stories around 1985. I'll give 'em credit for consistently rendering her as a "skinny chick" and not trying to make her all voluptuous. It seems she's written-out and her deal with Azareth and being the timebomb of Trigon is resolved... several times. But it never really is and it keeps bogging down the team (and their stories) until they're finally canceled in 1996.

-Once you see the Wildebeests, you can exit this title (circa 1988). Guess what? They're eventually tied into Raven.

-They try to give Jericho the same "heel turn" effect as Raven during the Wildebeest thing, but it seems to fall flat. Probably because fans disliked Jericho. So, of course, it all goes back to Raven. You start thinking: "dang, can't we just have some old fashioned villains and NOT tie them into Raven"?

-Speedy makes a few sporadic guest appearances and fans always wanted to bring him back, full-time. He's officially on Wonder Girl's replacement team for a bit, but doesn't get his big "push" until 1992 or so.

-To a lesser extent, Aqualad gets a similar treatment.

-Cyborg's is sort of the Titans' version of the FF's Thing. He definitely seems to be the title's breakout star, but they kinda' push him to the back around 1984. He gets blown up around 1990 and becomes a mechanical drone with no emotion. Not much of a change, since they hadn't been using him much.

-Of course, Cyborg also get the Raven treatment and eventually comes back as a villain. Sheesh. At least he doesn't last long in this role and it's just a gimmick to re-form the team for the 912th time in the late 90's.

-For as big as Deathstroke became and as a key component of this book for the first 4 years, it's strange that they stopped him using him in 1984. He'd sit in limbo for a few years until he got his own title in 1992. He definitely does a face turn in "Titans", but it was eventually negated, ignored or twisted sometime in the 90's.
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Erick Von Erich
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December 10th, 2014, 11:06 pm #99

Read all the lead-ins to the original "Secret Wars". I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it's random issues of Iron Man, Hulk, Avengers, The Thing, Uncanny X-Men and Captain America (the Cap story is an abbreviated version of the Avengers story).

All you need to know: a big arena pops up in Central Park. All the heroes go to check it out, individually, and instantly get zapped away. Spider-Man's the only one who's been sensing it for awhile, as his Spider-Sense has been flaring up for the past three issues. The next issue blurb tells us that "Spider-Man's life will NEVER be the same"! For once, that's not hyperbole, as Secret Wars and the resulting black costume were THE biggest change to Spidey since Gwen Stacy croaked.

A little surprised that "The Thing" (his solo series) is used as the lead-in for the Fantastic Four's involvement. Well, the Fantastic THREE, as Sue is home, about to give birth.

The Avengers was the only title that had a real "filler" issue while everybody was away. All the other titles just jumped to their next issue with all their post-Secret Wars stuff applied (Spidey's costume, She-Hulk in the FF, Thing staying on Battleworld, Colossus is heartbroken and... that's about it, I think).

Which led me to check out: "Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars #1"
-They never explained how all the villains (and Magneto) were sucked in. The Beyonder went through all this arena trouble with the heroes, but apparently just zapped-up the villains, instantly.

-I think I mentioned this, before, but I believe this issue was the official start of Magneto's "face turn". He talks about how he's just defending his race and he's apparently not considered "evil" by the Beyonder.

-Wasp is kind of a tart, as she says: "everyone knows us, since we're the Avengers and we're famous". After the falling out with Hank Pym (c.1982), she was written like a valley girl for the rest of the 80's (or, think of the movie "Clueless" for young'uns).

-This contains my absolute favorite two-panels of Captain America. Everyone's bitching about who should lead the heroes and Cap tries to downplay it. Prof. X gives his approval but Wolverine, being his usual asshole self, says Cap's no big deal. Thor steps in and gives Cap the rub, saying he'll calmly follow him anywhere. That settles it: Cap's the leader.

-Lots of fun dialogue from Dr. Doom. He constantly refers to himself in the third person and utters his famous line of "if there is power to be had, Doom must have it".

-I haven't read this entire series since about 1990, but if I remember correctly, everybody plays their roles to the hilt. It's amazing that, with such a gigantic cast and in "only" 12 issues, everybody gets memorable moments and characteristic dialogue.

-Hey, remember when Rogue was drawn like a bull dyke in a hoodie?

-It seems weird that everybody stays in costume for the entire series.

-I'll babble more when I get to issue 4, but this series was basically my intro to Marvel, as a whole.
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Erick Von Erich
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December 15th, 2014, 6:40 pm #100

Secret Wars #2
The heroes win the first un-organized attack by the villains, taking Enchantress, Thunderball, Piledriver and Bulldozer prisoner. The heroes also discover a massive base that they move into. All's seemingly well, until Magneto sneaks into the base (for reasons unclear), but he's attacked and decides to kidnap the Wasp. In the fray, the Thing suddenly reverts to Ben Grimm, with no warning.

After trying to get Galactus's attention, Doom returns to the villains' base, re-naming it "DOOMBASE" and re-builds Ultron as his loyal right-hand robot. He begins sucking up to the Molecule Man, realizing how powerful he is. Doom is more interested in the Beyonder and not necessarily into the little war.

Cyclops reveals that he was instantly zapped away from his home in Alaska and placed in-costume. He wasn't with the X-men in their lead-in story. There's a recurring theme that the Beyonder picked these teams and made this world because that's how he felt it should be. Which is also why Hawkeye and Iron Man were plucked along with the Avengers. So, in some cases, the Beyonder's like an All-Powerful Comic Book Fanboy playing with his action figures. Whether intentionally or not, this plays into the whole merchandising aspect of the project.

Oh, and Lockheed the dragon also disappears.

In case you don't know the teams, we've got:
HEROES
-Captain America
-Wasp
-Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau; FWIW, my favorite "Captain Marvel")
-Hawkeye
-Thor
-Iron Man
-She-Hulk
-Spider-Man
-Hulk
-Professor X
-Storm
-Colossus
-Cyclops
-Wolverine
-Nightcrawler
-Lockheed the Dragon
-Mr. Fantastic
-The Thing
-Human Torch
-Magneto (although he's more of a tweener)


VILLAINS
-Dr. Doom
-Dr. Octopus
-Kang
-Absorbing Man
-Wrecker
-Piledriver
-Thunderball
-Bulldozer
-Molecule Man
-Lizard (something of a tweener, as well)
-Enchantress
-Galactus (who goes off and does his own thing; trying to EAT the entire planet)

A little lop-sided to the heroes' advantage, it would seem. But the villains have Doom and Galactus, pretty much THE biggest and most powerful bad guys around.
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