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ohtani's jacket

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  1. South Africa vs. Ireland was a good old-fashioned arm wrestle. Ireland defended extremely well. I thought they were going to choke after the first quarter where they turned over so much lineout ball, but they were ferocious in defense. It was an extremely physical match, and I couldn't help but worry about whether NZ can match either of these teams physically. South Africa were let down by their pool goalkicking, which several pundits predicted. The Irish fans are amazing. The Wallabies failed to fire a shot in what was a must-win pool match for them. They suffered their heaviest defeat in World Cup history and will surely miss the quarters for first time ever. It was also the first time that they've lost consecutive matches at a World Cup. Despite the grief that Australia has given New Zealand over the years, I didn't feel good about this. These are the guys we play three times a year, and pretty much the only international club competition we face. If our primary opposition is this bad is it any wonder why we're struggling against the top sides? Wales played well, and Gatland appears to have done a good job galvanizing the squad, but it was like watching men against boys, which to be fair was exactly what it was.
  2. The plot thickens at the Rugby World Cup. Fabien Galthie responded to criticism of France's performance against Uruguay by fielding a full strength team against Namibia. They destroyed Namibia, but Antonine Dupont left the field injured and news has come out that he may have broken his jaw. France's World Cup is starting to resemble 2011 for New Zealand when Dan Carter was injured. Two big games coming up on the weekend, Ireland vs. South Africa and Wales vs. Australia.
  3. Bit of a shock. I just read Peepshow during the past year.
  4. I guess that means there won't be any more Fables stories in the future. I have enjoyed the current arc for what it's worth, but I wouldn't call it essential reading.
  5. Congrats, Coco! Tears were shed.
  6. Sadly, the All Blacks/France game was as predicted. If we win our quarterfinal that will be our final.
  7. The Rugby World Cup begins this weekend with the opening match between New Zealand and France taking place on Friday night. The All Blacks were riding high at the start of this season, and people were starting to talk us up as favorites, but that came undone after a warm up match at Twickenham where the All Blacks suffered their worst ever defeat. Now you have legendary French hard man, Oliver Magne, calling this the worst All Blacks side in history. In truth, the winning percentage under coach Ian Foster has been poor by All Black standards, and I don’t expect the team to make it past the quarters, but at least we can play without the pressure of being favorites. France have been a machine during the past four years, and destroyed us the last time we played them in Paris. I doubt they’ll wilt under the pressure of a home tournament, and I expect them to be fired up for the opener. The All Blacks have never lost a match in the pool stages, but this is arguably the toughest opponent they’ve faced. Topping the pool would give us a better hope of advancing to the semis, but I think we’ll see the All Blacks lose for the first time in a pool match. The question is how badly? If France thrash us, it will be hard to see the team picking itself up off the canvas. France and Ireland are the favorites to win the Cup, but South Africa know how to play World Cup winning rugby. I’m hoping we’ll see France or Ireland win a maiden title, but I have a nagging feeling about the Boks.
  8. I read Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis & Kevin Maguire's Defenders mini-series. If you're familiar with their Justice League work, it follows a similar format. If you love their Justice League work then you'll enjoy this. If you don't like their work, or you've never read it, you'll probably hate it. The characters are written completely out of character, and Maguire chooses to draw both Namor and the Silver Surfer in extremely cartoony fashion. I liked it, as it amuses me whenever the characters insult each other. Would have liked to have seen this trio do an Avengers series.
  9. The Vietnam Veterans' On the Right Track Now... this was extremely cool. The Vietnam Veterans were a French psychedelic band with a great garage rock sound. Loved their cover of Roky Erickson's I Walked with a Zombie. Rat Attack's Rat Attack... this was fun. These guys were out of Honolulu? Hawaii's the last place I'd think as the stamping ground for a metal band. Loved the album cover. Loved the duel lead guitars. Martin Briley's One Night with a Stranger... this was the most AOR-sounding record ever, but I knew that heading into it. This is one of those records where the album cover appealed to me. Perfectly fine LP if you like this type of music. Sergio Sampaio's Sinceramente... this was a nice record. A solid set of songs by Brazilian singer-songwriter, Sergio Sampaio, a musician whom often worked with Raul Sexias. He was one of those artists who like to cross genres, so you get a mix of different sounds on this record. Sampaio also has a nice voice. Modern Art's Oriental Towers... this was downbeat, minimal wave, minimal synth post-punk. Kind of the opposite of the upbeat stuff I like from '83. Naturally, I preferred the more synth heavy tracks, but overall this was decent. This was a project of Gary Ramon, and wasn't a real band in the sense that they didn't play live gigs. Ramon ended up forming a band called Sun Dial, which played live, but I'm not familiar with them. Manufaktura's Зал ожидания -- I'm always up for something new and today it was Russian pop rock. Not the first genre that springs to mind when you think of Russian music, but a nice record. I enjoyed it a lot. Jah Shaka's Fire and Brimstone... I must be coming around on dub as this was another record I thoroughly enjoyed. I read this described as "menacing" and that's a good way to put it. Nei Lisboa's Pra viajar no cosmos não precisa gasolina... the 80s weren't the heyday for MPB but this is a gem of an album. Libosa looks like he stepped out of a Godard film on the album cover and gives us a steady supply of piano and pop rock. Good stuff. Earthshaker's Earthshaker... I've listened to this countless times before, but it still rocks, and you can hear the influence on the Japanese metal bands that followed.
  10. Twickenham was an absolute disaster for us against the Boks, but at least Fiji gave me something to smile about. I saw them live in Tokyo a few weeks ago and they didn't look like they were about to beat England in that match, but a week (or two) is a long time in rugby.
  11. Australia can't win a game of Tiddlywinks at the moment either. Wales were the last team that Australia defeated, but it was only by five points and prior to that Wales had won three in a row, including the pool stages of the 2019 WC. They always have close, scrappy matches.
  12. Eddie is banking everything on Australia being on the easier side of the draw. Provided they can beat Wales in the pool stages, which isn't a given.
  13. VIA Tallas' Perfektan dan za banana ribe... Serbian new wave pop rock! This was another short-lived act. Very poppy. I liked it. Mark Shreeve's Assassin... progressive electronic music. I'm not sure I like electronic music enough to be into progressive electronic music, but I'll try anything once. Alceu Valenca's Anjo avesso... MPB. I went through a phase where I listened to a ton of MPB, but I'm not sure I ever listened to anything by Valenca. This isn't the best place to start as I don't think any of the 70s Brazilian artists were producing their best work in the early 80s, but the production featured an interesting mixes of instruments and sounds, and Valenca has a strong voice. Sugar Minott's Dancehall Showcase Vol 2... I have a hard time vibing with dub, and grew up about as far away from Jamaican dance hall culture as you can possibly get, but damn this was groovy. Sugar Minot, ladies and gentlemen. Vault's No More Escape... alright, Dutch heavy metal! This was basically NWOBHM but a ton of fun. Preview's Preview... Holy crap, I have been teleported back to the 80s. This was a bit of an AOR gem. Could have easily spawned a few movie soundtracks. Every cut sounded like a movie montage. The production was so pure that there's no way you could ever parody it. The Suburbs' Love is the Law... this was fucking great. What the hell is this doing languishing at #943 on the RYM charts? Gimme a break. The title track is going on heavy rotation. Wait, it's got a music video too! Brilliant. I hope they have this at karaoke. Imperiet's Rasera... Swedish post-punk. This rocked pretty hard. I can imagine some people not liking the horns and other arrangements, but I loved the up-tempo vibe. Giuni Russo's Vox... Russo was an Italian singer doing the whole new wave/art pop deal. I always dig hearing other country's versions of what was popular in the charts at the time. Fun record. Barış Manço & Kurtalan Ekspres' Estağfurullah... Ne Haddimize! this was Anatolian rock. Surprisingly funky. I could imagine hearing this at a Turkish restaurant and thinking it sounds good. Jun Fukamachi's Digital Trip Queen Emeraldas Synthesizer Fantasy... this was experimental electronic music that *I think* were unused tracks from the Leji Matsumoto anime, Queen Emeraldas. I could be wrong about that, but in any regard it's pretty stuff. Die Doraus und die Marinas' Die Doraus und die Marinas geben offenherzige Antworten auf brennende Fragen... god, what a title. This was the German version of new wave called Neue Deutsche Welle mixed with a liberal dose of synthpop. Worked for me.
  14. Green on Red's Gravity Talks... this was a really great Paisley Underground album. I'm not even a fan of the 60s psychedelic music that inspired this, but I still enjoyed it. Dan Stuart is my kind of songwriter -- just rambling about things at a mid-tempo pace while sounding vaguely like Lou Reed and Mick Jagger. Tangerine Dream's Hyperborea... I like Tangerine Dream. I went through a phase where I listened to a large chunk of their discography, but that was a long time ago and I got into a groove where I was in tune with the music they were making. This album didn't stand out in the context of quickly listening to as many 1983 albums as I can cram into a week, but if you were to give it multiple listens I imagine it would be rewarding. Necros' Conquest for Death... Necros were a mid-west punk band from Ohio and pretty decent. Not the heaviest record I've heard, but I imagine this was the type of thing that metalheads were listening to get their fix. Raul Seixas' Raul Seixas... Raul Seixas' look was better than his music if you ask me, but if you're a fan of standard rock 'n' roll then he was continuing to fly the banner in 1983. Silly Wizard's Kiss the Tears Away... Scottish folk music. I can appreciate this on a certain level, but it's not something I'd choose to listen to. Yoshio Ojima's Club... I wasn't actually aware until I started this project of mine how much experimenting was being down with synth music at the time. Ambient music isn't really my thing, and neither is minimalism, but I added another little fact about music to my brain so that's something. Abdullah Ibrahim's Zimbabwe... speaking of things I didn't know, how about the long history of jazz music in Cape Town? I had no idea that Cape Town used to be the equivalent of New Orleans, and I've never head anything by pianist, Abdullah Ibrahim, despite the fact that his music helped Cape Jazz gain more commercial exposure in the 1970s. Pleasant stuff, but I'd have to dig a bit deeper to get a grasp on the music from this area. Polansky y El Ardor's Chantaje emocional... this was a Spanish new wave/post punk record that was ranked the 1005th best album of 1983 on Rate Your Music. I thought it was great, but bear in mind I like pretty much everything from Spain from this era, and I can't understand anything that they're singing about so I could be recommending you total crap. These guys only released one record before breaking up, which is a shame. Faust'o's Faust'o... similar deal, but this time it's Italian, has more of a singer-songwriter vibe, and Faust'o had a long career. This was an exciting LP. I would definitely listen to more of this guy's stuff. Offenders' We Must Rebel... this sounded great, but the vocals were weak. The music deserved better, imo.
  15. Sun Ra and his Outer Space Arkestra's A Fireside Chat With Lucifer... I've been ignoring 1983 jazz, largely because my interest in jazz barely extends into the 70s let alone 1983, but I couldn't resist the title for this LP. This includes the amusing track Nuclear War, which has awesome lines like "if they push that button, your ass gotta go," and "gonna blast your ass so high in the sky, you can kiss your ass goodbye." The rest of the record is forgettable. Negative Approach's Tied Down... I have no idea where this fits into the history of hardcore punk or thrashcore, but the vocals are great. It's also fast, and 16 minutes long. That ticks all the boxes. James Blood Ulmer's Odyssey... People say this isn't Ulmer's best album, but I frigging loved it. This is jazz fusion using a mix of rock, funk and electric blues. Totally up my alley. I really need to listen to more Ulmer albums. Kath Bloom & Loren Mazzacane's Restless Faithful Desperate... Very folky, very singer-songwriter-y. Not bad if you like that type of music but felt fairly out of place in 1983. Turbo's Dorosłe dzieci... Turbo are a Polish heavy metal group. Once again, we love the fact that metal spread around the world. I don't think you can really expect a Polish group to be ahead of the curve, but I guess you never know. To my ears, this was solid 1983 metal in the hard rock/NWOBH vein. Wally Badarou's Echoes... OK, here's where it gets very musician's musician-y. Wally Badarou is a French musician who worked closely with Level 42 and was a session musician and producer on a bunch of 80s stuff. If you're at all interested in the music behind synthpop and not just the karaoke friendly hits, then this is worth listening to. This dude was right at the cutting edge and exploring all sorts of new electronic sounds. Soft Selection 84... this is a compilation album of Japanese minimal synth and minimal wave tracks. Some of them are poppier than you'd expect. Not bad. Monsoon's Third Eye... This is kind of ethnic psychedelic pop. It's hard to describe. It's almost as if the group was trying to mix Bollywood sounds with modern dance music. The Tomorrow Never Knows cover is probably the key to understanding this record. Ever So Lonely was a big enough hit that they were able to appear on Top of the Pops, which was a pretty big deal as you didn't see too many singers wearing a sari on TOTP. Virna Lindt's Shiver... Swedish art pop. Sounds a bit like ABBA meets Blondie. I was neither moved here nor there, but I can imagine this being an extremely cool discovery if you like chic records.
  16. Stan's final FF story was a two-partner in issues #124-125 that saw the return of Monster from the Lost Lagoon. Not the greatest story, but better than I expected. There was a great cliffhanger at the end of issue #124 where a terrified Sue Storm thought she was about to drown. Stan ends with a message about brotherhood and accepting each other's differences, and that's a wrap. So, what to make of it? Stan didn't pen any classic Fantastic Four adventures after Jack left, but it wasn't a total disaster, and I should really preface that by saying that Jack wasn't producing classic FF stories either. The saving grace was the artwork. Romita and Buscema weren't able to emulate Kirby, but they were no slouches themselves, and it's fair to say that the art didn't suffer, especially with Sinnott still doing the inking. The stories were average, and there was a distinct lack of character development, but they were good enough that if you were 12 years old and still using your allowance to buy FF books, that you wouldn't notice the difference. I think post-Ditko Spider-Man is MUCH better. Whether that's because Stan was better at writing Spider-Man than the FF, I'm not sure. A case can be made that Stan and Romita took Spider-Man to greater heights than Stan and Ditko did. I'm not sure I agree with it, but it's an argument I'd listen to. I don't think that you can argue that Stan and Buscema made the FF better. Ditko left much earlier than Jack did, if I'm not mistaken, and it's possible that Stan was more concerned with the comics at that time than he was in the 70s, but having read the post-Kirby Fantastic Four I can definitely see why Kirby's family said he wasn't a science fiction guy and didn't share the wealth of knowledge that Jack had. He liked to write existential Silver Surfer musings, and he was keen on promoting peace, love and brotherhood. I don't think that was a gimmick. He made a point to include anti-war and anti-prejudice messages in just about every story he scripted. The time was right for him to step down, and I don't think anyone wishes we could have gotten more Stan Lee FF stories. I don't have any plans on reading the issues that follow. I read the storyline that culminated with FF #200 a while back, and enjoyed it, but I've had my fill of the FF for the time being.
  17. Fantastic Four #120-123 sees the return of Stan from what I believe they dubbed a vacation. Nice for some. Forget about all that exposition that the whippersnappers are into, Stan's FF is all-action. This is a long and convoluted Galactus story that is not merely a rehash of the original Galactus story, but a rehash of the rehash in FF #74-78. It starts with the arrival of what appears to be Galactus' latest herald, Gabriel the Air-Walker, who blows his horn to announce the end of the world. I'm not a huge fan of the character design, to be honest, and it's an absolute waste of print space when he turns out to be a robot and is cast aside. Big John does draw a pretty cool splash page at the end of #120, but that's about all the Air-Walker is good for. He's really just a precursor for the reappearance of Galactus and the Silver Surfer. Galactus wants his herald back and there's a lot of grandstanding and moralizing. The public are panicking again, as they have been throughout the post-Kirby era, and who can blame them really? They must have PTSD from the constant threats to mankind. The Surfer is prepared to sacrifice himself for the good of mankind, but Reed's not having a bar of it. He keeps telling everyone he has a plan, but no one will listen to him. Nixon orders the military to get involved and one of the soldiers mistakenly shoots Reed. There's no blood, but we're told that Reed is at death's door. Instead of rushing him to an emergency room, the Surfer takes him to a meadow somewhere and performs surgery with his eyes. Reed's plan works and Galactus ends up trapped in the Negative Zone where we'll never hear from him again. The coolest part of this story arc is a sequence where Sue rides on Reed's back through the city, including walking across his outstretched back like a tightrope walker, and they fly in a rocket to Galactus' ship where Reed manages to make his way into the giant cockpit and take control of the ship. This all takes place in the span of about five minutes while Galactus is fighting Johnny, but it's beautifully drawn. Stan didn't create too many original characters after Jack left, but the most effective one may have been the Baxter Building landlord, Walter Collins, who is a constant thorn in the group's side and keeps upsetting them by labelling them freaks. Either Stan was having trouble with his landlord or he felt the FF needed a Jameson type character to rile things up. The scenes with Agatha Harkness continue to be ridiculous. She has now taken on the role of The Watcher when it comes to warning the FF of galactic threats, and Reed uses her at the end to communicate with everyone on the planet and assure them that the threat is over. FINALLY, someone points out the fact that Reed is entrusting the care of his child to a witch, and it takes the Silver Surfer, an alien, to point it out! Reed is blasé about it. He basically says, "Oh we didn't know that she was a witch at the time, but now that we do, we can't think of anyone better to protect our son." Another pet peeve, and possibly No Prize time, Reed needed special equipment to detect Ben's heartbeat after he was sucker punched by the Hulk, but he can find Ben's pulse without any trouble. Bullsheet. So, I'm sensing a pattern here with Atlantis' invasion of New York, the coming of the Over-Mind, and the return of Galactus, and that pattern is that Stan didn't really have much clue when it came to story ideas, which adds fuel to the fire that Jack came up with most of the storylines and that Stan made limited contributions. He may have been coasting, but considering it was panic stations when Kirby quit, you'd assume he was putting his best foot forward, at least in the beginning. The fact that Stan went back to Galactus and the Surfer, and would do so again in the future, makes me doubt his ability to come up with fresh, original ideas. Even with the Over Mind, Archie Goodwin did all of the heavy lifting. There's one storyline left to go, and it resurrects one of the low points of the Kirby/Lee run, so we won't hold out breath for that one.
  18. Fantastic Four #119 is a one shot story by Roy Thomas. I'm not sure how fondly it's remembered today, but it manages to pack a fair punch. It starts off weak with a squabble between Johnny and Ben, and Reed introducing a new invention of his, a robot named Auntie (AUtomatic Neuro-robot in charge of Tidying up with Increased Efficiency), but we do get a bit of continuity with Johnny still moping about Crystal and Reed revealing to Sue that he's working on a way to allow Crystal to live outside of the Great Refuge (like that's going to work.) The bulk of the story is a Johnny and Ben adventure where they travel to Rudyarda, a neighboring country of Wakanda known for its apartheid regime. Their mission is to recover a device called a Vibrotron, which augments the power of Vibranium, and discover what happened to T'Challa, who crossed the border to to retrieve the device himself, but hasn't been heard from since. There ends up being an obligatory fight scene with Klaw, but the purpose of the issue is Roy's commentary on apartheid. Ben and Johnny can't stomach the regime in Rudyarda and make several statements about it throughout the issue, including a definitive statement at the end when Ben destroys a segregated border gate. Not your typical issue of the FF. Stan often included social commentary in his scripting, but rarely based an entire issue around it. It's an incredibly wordy issue, but you get your money's worth with a Roy Thomas story. The reason that apartheid was topical was because it had escalated in South Africa with nonwhites no longer allowed to hold political office, and the country of Rhodesia had recently declared itself a Republic with a white government. Roy even manages to touch on the spate of plane hijacking that was occurring at the time when Ben and Johnny stop a hijacker from diverting their flight to Cuba. Ben does a couple of badass things in this issue -- first he contains the blast of the hijacker's grenade in his own hands, and then he crushes Klaw's soni-claw. One change that Roy made which didn't stick was T'Challa changing his name to The Black Leopard to distance himself from the Black Panther Party. I'm not sure how I feel about the covers during this era. The solid borders (if you can call them that) seem ugly at times.
  19. Fantastic Four #117-118 are a letdown. Hot-head Johnny has become love sick again. It's hard to say who the most annoying member of the Fantastic Four is. I'm generally sympathetic towards Sue since she has to put up with three idiot males, but even Sue can be prone to histrionics when Stan is scripting her. It's probably a three way tie for first, but tormented Johnny Storm is really frigging annoying. Archie's story is continuity heavy as it ties into an issue of Namor and references a couple of other stories. It turns out that Crystal and Lockjaw never made it to the Great Refuge. Instead, Lockjaw transported Crystal to a distant future where humanity has been wiped out. There she encounters the Master of Alchemy, Diablo, who had been banished there by Dr. Doom. Diablo uses one of his potions to take control of Crystal and Lockjaw so that he can exact his revenge against Doom. Little does he know that Doom is busy licking his wounds after his battle with the Over-Mind, unless that was a Doom-bot, in which case all bets are off. Diablo plans to overthrow the dictatorship of a South American country so that he can steal the country's rare chemicals and become all-powerful. He convinces the locals that Crystal is the Mayan Goddess, Ixchel, who has returned to free them from tyranny. I t's a flimsy plot that can barely sustain an issue and a half. I'm not joking. The plot is so thin that they have to run a backup story in issue #118. Johnny discovers that Crystal is in South America thanks to, you guessed it, Agatha Harkness and her crystal ball. I do like the fact that Ben is still spooked by Agatha's house and her cat, Ebony. It also amuses me that Johnny doesn't give a frig about other people's problems such as Maximus the Mad having seized control of the Inhumans' kingdom or the South American dictator launching an air strike against the peasant uprising. No sir, all that matters to our Johnny is that he can neck with Crystal for five seconds. I guess no one ever accused Johnny Storm of being the most mature hero around. The FF have seemingly accepted Agatha at face value. If Reed and Sue discussed whether it's appropriate for a centuries old witch to be taking care of their son then it happened off panel. Issue #118 has a brief fight between Crystal and Johnny after Johnny tries to plant one on her. The cover teases a larger fight between Crystal and the FF, but to be honest, after Ben and then Reed, it's become a tired trope. The most fun part of the issue is Ben scrapping with Lockjaw. Archie has been using Ben for comic relief, but things get a little trippy in the backup story. Lockjaw and Ben take a little side trip to an alternate Earth where Ben Grimm became Mr. Fantastic and married Sue, and Reed became the Thing and turned into a recluse. It's the type of sci-fi that's right up Archie's alley, and probably would have made for a more interesting story than the Diablo mess. It does raise the question of whether Ben still has a thing for Sue. It wouldn't surprise me if that was one of the topics they argued about in the bullpen breakroom. It's interesting that even though Stan didn't write these stories, he gets first billing as editor. I'm sure that 90% of kids glossed over the details and simply thought this was another Stan Lee story. Archie is far more detailed than Stan, and very much a Bronze Age style writer, he just didn't have a great story idea for these fill-in issues. Even the flow of the story is pensive. The art is fairly strong, though, and it seems that Buscema is coming into his own even if his work here isn't as good as it was on The Avengers. Roy Thomas fills in next issue and then Stan is back for a final run.
  20. Archie Goodwin takes over the writing duties with Fantastic Four #116 after scripting the previous issue. I believe this was a temporary gig while Stan was busy schmoozing in Hollywood. As you can imagine, the plotting is tighter with Archie on deck but the dialogue lacks pizzazz. I don't know if Buscema was working from a full script, but the art for issue #116 is the best work he's delivered since taking over from Romita. The battle between Over-Mind and the Fantastic Four is probably the best fight scene since Kirby left, and Over-Mind comes across a truly worthy FF opponent. A large part of the appeal is witnessing Doom lead the FF in Reed's place. Archie doesn't have a lot of panels to work with when roping Doom into the story, and has to rush things a bit, but it's tidy enough that a kid wouldn't question the logic behind it. Once again, Agatha Harkness steps in and intervenes. That seems to be the go-to solution when the heroes are at a loss. They ought to make her a member of the team! I could just imagine her rocking her unstable molecules outfit. She'd probably add more to the team than Sue does. Doom vs the Over-Mind is badass. Finally, a fight scene worth of the World's Greatest Comic Magazine. It's similar to the battle Doom had with the Beyonder in Secret Wars, or that badass fight he has with Terrax during Byrne's run. Reed turning heel in the previous issue was supposedly a ruse, but he can't stop the Over-Mind from taking over his mind and tries to kill Sue. Eventually, he's able to fight off the Over-Mind's control by remembering he has a wife and child, but the question I have is why does Franklin's hair keep changing color? Is it blond or brown? You tell me, Marvel colorists. New York is raging with hatred, and people are brawling with each other in the streets. Doom falls in battle. The gizmo that was meant to stop the Over-Mind is destroyed. The end of the world is nigh. Franklin's hair keeps changing color. And then Archie pulls out the most brazen piece of dues ex machina you'll see in a Bronze Age book. It works in the sense that it's a Bronze Age comic for 12 year olds, but it's absolutely ridiculous. The saving grace is that Doom cuts an awesome promo as he staggers off. The FF are kind of bummed that that they were useless in the fight, but the Watcher pops out of nowhere and gives them a pep talk All's well that ends well. Joking aside, it's a great issue.
  21. Fantastic Four #113-115 introduces what I'm assuming is the first original Fantastic Four villain created after Kirby left, the Over-Mind. Off the top of my head, I'm only familiar with the Over-Mind from J. M. DeMatteis using him in his Defenders run, but he certainly looks the part as far as cosmic villains go. The design is similar to something Kirby might have come up with, although Jack would have given him more grotesque features. He gets introduced in fairly weak "the Over-Mind is coming!" fashion with a guest spot by The Watcher and a warning from Agatha Harkness, however it seems he may be behind the chaos that has been happening over the past few issues, both internally within the team and externally with the public turning against them. Long term plotting from Stan? We shall see. Ben's not really dead, it's just hard to pick up a heartbeat beneath that orange rock. Reed is a giant prick towards everyone, but manages to save Ben's life. Ben smashes the machine that changed him back to his human form and declares that the Ever-Lovin' Blue-eyed Thing is back and happy to stay in that form. That was easily resolved. Johnny apologizes for the things he said to Reed, and Reed has the audacity to praise Johnny for apologizing like a man. When do you ever apologize, Reed? It's a wonder your teammates didn't up and leave a long time ago. A few panels later, Johnny has a meltdown over Crystal and almost kills himself by jumping out the window before flaming on (stupid.) Sue agonizes over what's happening to the team, and it seems like it's a deliberate plot point. It's irritating, but I do like the way every time they fight there's a kernel of truth in what they're saying. They might be a family, but they're a hugely dysfunctional one. The Fantastic Four end up being arrested and Reed bails them out. The Over-Mind walks around in his space duds and draws too much attention so he disguises himself in a ridiculous vest outfit that does nothing to disguises the fact that he's over 7 feet tall. That was a fail by Buscema. He has a short skirmish with the team and decides their powers are nothing to worry about and erases their memories of the encounter. Issue #115 is a bit of a doozy. By this stage, the reader isn't really sure who this Over-Mind dude is other than he's a threat to the entire universe, but to give him a backstory, Stan does this ridiculous trick of having Agatha Harkness help the FF communicate with the Watcher, who tells them the Over-Mind's origin story. Why he couldn't have done that a few issues ago when he popped up to warn them of his coming is beyond me. The origin itself is fairly good. It involves an aggressive race of aliens named The Eternals (!!!) who are basically a substitute for the Roman Empire, and the Over-Mind is a gladiator turned all-powerful villain. It's very Fantastic Four-esque. Interestingly, it's scripted by Archie Goodwin, and plotted by Stan Lee, which adds fuel to the fire that Stan wasn't the driving force beyond a lot of these science fiction storylines. Once that's done, Reed suddenly turns bad without any warning (other than the fact that he's been even more of a prick than usual the past few issues.) Looks like the Over-Mind has got him too. I guess it will be up to the other dumbasses on the team to save the day. The cover for the next issue has Dr. Doom replacing Reed on the team, which is pretty wild. I can only imagine there were a fair number of kids still buying the FF off the racks post-Kirby, the same way I keep reading the X-Men after Claremont left. I mean, what kid could resist a cover like that? I forgot to mention that when Reed was in the Negative Zone, it appeared that Marvel used some of Kirby's old collage work for the backgrounds. Another example of how Jack's presence is still being felt.
  22. Fantastic Four #110-112 are pretty good. Reed is stuck in the Negative Zone at the beginning of issue #110, having sacrificed himself to allow Johnny and Ben to escape. He ends up escaping with a little help from his teammates, and Agatha Harkness, who finally reveals that she's a witch. Strangely, Reed and Sue barely react to the fact that their child's nanny is a witch. If there's been a major flaw in Stan's scripting thus far it's a lack of attention to detail. Ben starts acting like a dick again while Reed is fighting for his life in the Negative Zone after having put that plot point on the back burner during the past few issues. That leads to a panel where Sue slaps Ben, which is about as much backbone as Sue has shown in these Bronze Age issues. She gets to use her powers a bit during these issues, which is a welcome respite from her constant fretting. The plot contrivance of her constantly having to fly between the Baxter Building and Agatha's creepy house to spend time with Franklin is annoying. Franklin is a problem in general, but the situation is a fairly realistic depiction of what it would be like for superheroes to have children, especially celebrity types like the Fantastic Four. Stan keeps hinting that Franklin has powers of their own, though they're pretty boring powers thus far. Ben turns heel and goes on a rampage. This escalates quickly and within a few pages, J. Jonah Jameson is leading a witch hunt against the Fantastic Four, there are protesters outside the Baxter Building, and Reed has a heated confrontation with his landlord, who he calls a human parasite. The Hulk is shoehorned into the plot in the weakest way imaginable, and there's a classic Thing vs. Hulk fight in issue #112. Buscema tries his damnedest to draw a worthy Thing/Hulk fight, but it pales in comparison to Kirby's layouts. Reed and Johnny bicker over the best way to help Ben. Johnny keeps calling Reed old. Reed is a condescending prick. The fighting gets a bit old after a while. One thing Stan is great at is the single panel cliffhangers. They're fantastic. Ben is dead at the end of issue #112 and it's all Reed's fault. If that doesn't get you to pick up next month's issue, I don't know what will. Of course that implies that the Hulk killed Ben, which was never gonna happen, but the final panel was dope.
  23. Waterboys' Waterboys... I always quite liked the Waterboys. They were unfairly compared to U2, and when they blew up it was because of their big music become popular, but I always felt like Mike Scott was a songwriter with something to say. This was raw Scott. He didn't even have a proper band, but he had a handful of songs ready to unleash on the world and you could already tell he was ambitious. UB40's Labour of Love... UB40 are one of those bands I would never claim to like but sing along to whenever they came on the radio. I was surprised by how many of the songs I knew on this record. While there's an element of white guys pinching another culture's music, I can definitely understand why the group was popular. Killing Joke's Fire Dances... I don't think Killing Joke fans like this album very much, and I can understand that, but again, context... It was extremely difficult for late 70s bands to continue producing successful LPs in the early 80s. There were all sorts of pressure to add synth sounds to the production and follow the New Wave crowd. Post-punk bands were particularly lost around this time as they weren't at the cutting edge anymore. Killing Joke didn't quite get things right on this album, but it did lead to the more successful Night Time record in '85, so you can view this as a decent transition album if you wish. The Plimsouls' Everywhere at Once... Decent power pop record with elements of a few other styles I like thrown into the mix -- garage rock, jangle pop, and rockabilly. None of the tracks stood out to me, but the music wasn't bad. The Stranglers' Feline... I liked this a bit more of a second listen, but on the whole, I'd say this a lot worse than the Killing Joke's LP while being in a fairly similar predicament. Einstürzende Neubauten's Zeichnungen des Patienten O.T.... I have my limits, and here they are... This was noisy crap. Sorry if you're a fan. Circle Jerks' Golden Shower of Hits... this held up pretty well, but it's not as hard as you'd expect. The songs are short but have a pop ring to them that I wasn't expecting. ABC's Beauty Stab... now we're getting into the territory of music my father listened to. He had an ABC cassette tape that he practically wore out listening to in the car. Little OJ used to hoon around in the car singing "Blame Cupid, Cupid!" out the window. This was a step down from the Lexicon of Love record and didn't have any bangers on it, but it reminded me of my dad who's ailing at the moment, so it was a nice trip down memory lane. Kajagoogoo's White Feathers... Too Shy is a massive tune. If there's a song that instantly takes you back to 1983, that may be it. Unfortunately, there's nothing else on this LP that remotely compares to that song. What a song though.
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