Who foresaw a return of Liam Neeson? Certainly not the lawyer that sent me a cease and desist order...
Friday, May 30, 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
After our brief interlude with Bubonicus and the Galactic Guardians, it is time to get back to the meat and potatoes of the story and see how the Guardians of the Galaxy deal with the threat of Dormammu, Dr. Strange’s nemesis from our time period. If you’ll remember back, Dormammu hitched a ride on the Guardians’ ship when they were back in our time period fighting the Badoon (you remember that whole silly storyline, right? Don’t make me go back through it all).
Either way, the end of last issue came with a bang, or a boom, or whatever sound an exploding spaceship makes in space…what, there’s no sound? Well that’s not exactly a good descriptor is it? Last issue came with a…silence. Yup, I like mine better. Regardless of the semantics, the Guardians were pretty much screwed at the end of last issue as Dormammu made his presence known by blowing up their ship…with the whole team still aboard, what a dick.
Is this the end of the Guardians though? Was last issue just a back-door pilot for the Galactic Guardians to take over after the death of the original team? Not so fast, as Martinex and his quick trigger finger teleport everyone on board before the explosion can incinerate them all. I guess it’s a good thing that Bubonicus didn’t take up any more of his time last issue. For the record, having the whole original team die at the beginning of this issue and the Galactic Guardians assuming the mantle of responsibility would have been a groundbreaking idea. No one kills off an entire team after thirty-five issues and no conceivable end in sight. Would it have caused an uproar? Probably. Would it have been the freshest and best idea to hit this title in its entire run? Absolutely.
Well, much to my chagrin, the guardians are still alive and kicking, except Charlie who is knocked out from the fight with the Badoon. The happy reunion between the two teams is broken up by the fact that something just blew up the Guardians’ ship (and is still outside!) This is a fact that no one, save Aleta seems to really be aware of. After Aleta alerts everyone to their impending doom, the most powerful members of the groups (Aleta, Phoenix and Firelord) spring into action. Now last issue, Phoenix became even more of an all powerful being because he was shown to be able to cure the entire universe of the plague created by Bubonicus. How does he follow that up? By being the first one knocked out by Dormammu. I get it, Dormammu is a bad-ass, but a near omnipotent being such as Phoenix should have made short work of him. This flip-flopping of how powerful Phoenix is depending on who he’s facing is getting a little old.
As Firelord attacks we cut into the interior of the ship and see Charlie hooked up to some machines in the med-bay. Yellowjacket and Hollywood have a moment, as they were apparently something of an item back in the day (when Hollywood was still Wonderman). We then see that Talon has gone rogue and has flown out into space to deal with Dormammu. Why it took this long for Talon, the only character with experience in sorcery and a close relationship with Dr. Strange himself, to enter the fracas I have no idea.
Talon proves himself useful right away and the fight begins to turn in the favor of the heroes. Back inside, Charlie wakes up from his coma to the delight of everyone that is just watching what could be their impending doom on the monitors.
Speaking of Doom, we head back to New York City of the thirty-first century and see Doom and Rancor getting along. Obviously this is all a ruse on Rancor’s part, but Batwing still gives her shit for it. Her response? Attack Batwing and literally scalp him with her Wolverine-claw. So, word to the wise, Rancor doesn’t like jokes.
Back to the action in space, Dormammu fights back and shows everyone that he has already captured Krugarr, the current sorcerer supreme. Ghost Rider attacks Dormammu but his assault doesn’t really do much but piss him off even more. All is not lost though as Dr. Strange himself shows up to save the day. Of course he uses the old “our powers combined can stop this menace” that is the hallmark of pretty much every team book ever. Everyone’s powers channel through Dr. Strange and converge on Dormammu, only for him to turn them around and straight up kill Dr. Strange with them.
Next issue: With Dr. Strange dead, where do our heroes go from here? Can they all pool their powers again, this time through Talon so that he dies off as well?
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Kenny Wayne Shepherd is one of the best guitarists of his generation, and his vocalist, Noah Hunt has a quintessential “blues voice”. Because of this, any album that the two put out is required listening. The fact that Goin’ Home is just fifteen blues cover songs and no original material doesn’t really hurt this as much as you would expect. The band masterfully recreates the songs by such blues contemporaries as Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughn and BB King.
Not only does the band perform admirably, they also bring in guest musicians to work with them including Robert Randolph, and one of my personal favorites Warren Haynes. “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home”, the song with Haynes, is by far the standout on the entire album. The interplay between Shephard and Haynes on the guitar and Hunt and Haynes with the vocals is incredible, enough to make me wish that these artists would collaborate more. An entire album from this particular pairing would be the standout blues album of the year, if not the decade.
The musicianship is exactly what you would expect out of this group, with Shepherd’s guitar work being a particular highlight (as expected). Hunt’s vocals on the classic blues tunes give them a more modern feel while keeping with the original spirit of the songs. Beyond that, there is not much more to say. For an album that was thrown together because the band apparently had an eleven day break in their touring schedule it comes through as polished as an album that took years to complete. This is a great album to add to your Kenny Wayne Shepherd collection, or to a basic blues playlist as it has everything you could want. Hopefully within the next year or so we get some more original music from this band, as well as hopefully that collaboration with Warren Haynes I mentioned earlier.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014
Thursday, May 22, 2014
We’re about ready for a break from the Guardians of the Galaxy, right? Lucky for you, this week we have the Galactic Guardians on the slate in their own adventure. Okay, I guess I should hold off on saying “lucky you” until we see if this is any better than the regular Guardians’ adventures. Just be forewarned, the creative team is the same as every other Guardians issue (post Jim Valentino) so while the quality will be similar in terms of execution, let’s see what a fresh set of characters can do to invigorate the duo of Gallagher and West.
We begin the issue with a quick recap of what happened at the end of last issue, and jump right into the Galactic Guardians with page two. This, unfortunately, is where Kevin West’s pencils take a swift nosedive to the prototypical Marvel “House Style” of that time, something Herb Trimpe has massacred on many an occasion, as I’ve pointed out.
Once we are reintroduced to the Galactic Guardians, they start to evaluate the threat (from last issue, the threat is basically a hole in the universe, the origin of which is unknown at this time. Marty, the team leader and the guy that brought all of these heroes together, tells everyone to stay together outside the ship until he can ascertain the threat level. Phoenix, who is by far the most powerful member of the group, just up and flies right into the mass of nothing. This of course backfires and knocks him out of commission as he flies right into Bubonicus.
Bubonicus looks like a mini-Celestial (for those that don’t know, the Celestials are giant space-gods, all with Jack Kirby designs. A great idea but not well-utilized in my opinion – except for the Earth-X storyline). Bubonicus has a staff that infects the target with a disease, any disease really, but one that is specific to that individual, so no mass antidote can be created and no one is immune (including the universe apparently). Being sick doesn’t bode well for Phoenix though as he goes batshit insane, starting to eat planets, flare up like the demi-god that he is, and flies off.
Ghost Rider and Firelord, having recently teleported back in to the ship, teleport back out because they “can’t stand for this indignity” or something altruistic like that. We then learn that Bubonicus has infected Mainframe with a computer virus, and no sooner are the two headstrong pains in the ass outside than they are infected as well. Great. It’s like we’re reading a Guardians of the Galaxy comic or something with the utter futility of its team members. Hollywood goes outside to grab the two incapacitated dumbasses and winds up getting infected himself. Of course while all this is happening, Martinex is having a meltdown because no one is listening to him. He’s a giant baby, apparently.
Mainframe has some sort of out of body experience where he leaves the universe itself so he can speak to the Universe (it’s weird, I fully admit that). In speaking to the Universe, he finds that there is nothing that can be done about Bubonicus except by Phoenix, who just so happens was incapacitated right away. Luckily for us, the Phoenix-Force is now talking to its host body. Phoenix then wills himself to be healed.
On the Galactic Guardians’ ship, Bubonicus has boarded and Martinex is his first victim, except it’s not Martinex, it’s Replica, the shape-shifting Skrull in Martinex’s form. That means that the taylor-made disease for Martinex doesn’t work on Replica, who changes back to her old form and steals Bubonicus’ staff as the real Martinex comes up behind Bubonicus and encases him in ice. Gallagher does a great job of taking whiny Martinex and turning him into a tactical hero, proving why he’s the leader of the group and why everyone should have listened to him in the first place.
Replica then turns into a monster and punches Bubonicus, because this is a comic book after all. Phoenix joins the conversation between Mainframe and Eternity (Marvel’s sentient version of the universe), where he learns that he and he alone can get rid of Bubonicus and the plague that he created. Phoenix does just that, first removing the disease from Eternity, then teleporting onto the ship and going supernova so that he can deep-clean the ship. This also kills Bubonicus (or so it seems, again, this is a comic book).
At this point the Galactic Guardians realize that they were actually on their way to help the Guardians of the Galaxy, so they should probably get moving on that. And of course, they show up just in time to see Dormammu blowing up the Guardians’ ship.
Next Issue: Are the Guardians dead? Was this issue just a backdoor pilot for the Galactic Guardians to take over the series? Will Kevin West’s de-evolution into Herb Trimpe 2.0 continue?
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
What can I say, I’m a masochist when it comes to music. I like to have complete catalogues when it comes to my favorite musicians. Sometimes this is a good thing (Alice Cooper, AC/DC) but oftentimes it’s not. Not only that, but I used to fall into the trap of hearing one or two great songs and purchasing a whole album because of it, which sometimes produced a diamond, but usually only coal. During this series, we will dwell on some of the albums I have in my collection that are downright terrible. I will re-listen to them all and give you my impression of them.
Now this is only my opinion, so don’t take it as gospel. If you like a particular album in this series, let me know, we’ll open up a discussion about it. I’m always open to discussing the merits of any particular album, and if you have any suggestions (and especially if you have the album itself and are willing to share your views) then let me know and I’d be happy to add it to the list.
Album Name: Poison’d
Release Date: 2007
Why you bought it: I’m still trying to figure that out. I mean, I have other Poison albums, but combining a cover album with a band well past its prime is a recipe for disaster.
First impressions: It was okay for a cover album, but nothing special at all as the covers stayed pretty true to the originals. In fact, the covers themselves seemed a little tame, like Poison was just going through the motions.
Impressions upon listening to it recently: The covers are still incredibly tame. “Little Willy” and Alice Cooper’s “I Never Cry” are good, but the rest is generic karaoke-bar fodder.
Any saving grace?: The two songs mentioned above but that’s it.
Was it worth the purchase?: Nope, like most cover albums, this showed a steep decline in Poison’s ability to make compelling music. This is probably one of the main reasons we have yet to see an actual album of new material from Poison since this dropped in 2007.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Friday, May 16, 2014
Thursday, May 15, 2014
How ominous is this cover? Charlie-27 was dying, choking on a blood clot at the end of the last issue, and he’s nowhere to be found on the cover here. Is this a sign of things to come? A subtle signal of the demise of one of the founding members of the group? We’ll have to read on to find out.
We open right where we left off, with Yellowjacket revealing herself to Nikki and Charlie dying on a table. No sooner do we join the action than Yellowjacket shrinks down and flies into the mouth of Charlie. She shoots the blood clot, rupturing it and allowing Charlie to breathe. I’m not sure if this does any irreparable damage to Charlie, I doubt it as this is comics, but at least Yellowjacket has proved her usefulness so far. We then get a call from Martinex to check on the status of Charlie. He is currently en route with the rest of the Galactic Guardians.
After a brief interlude that foreshadows the next challenge for the Guardians (something that has stowed away on the outside of their ship) we head back to New York City where Rancor and the mutants are running the rebuilding of the realiteevee refinery. Doom has put a program into place where the humans will work around the clock to finish repairs on the facility. When they eventually die from working so hard, it is up to the mutants to bring more workers in. Pretty harsh, but classic Doom.
Back on the Guardians’ ship, Yellowjacket is formally admitted to the team. The celebration cannot last however as there is turbulence that Vance determines is caused by something outside. Aleta heads outside to check it out, and sees that there is indeed something out there, surrounding the ship. She uses more power than she has ever had before to destroy the bands that were around the ship.
We now cut to the Galactic Guardians who are currently on their way to aid the Guardians. They get to a point in the universe where everything, even the universe itself is actually decaying in front of their eyes. Before we can see what is causing this, we cut away, but fear not because the next issue is all about the Galactic Guardians.
We briefly cut back to the Guardians’ ship where Nikki and Talon are telling Vance about how Charlie became the chosen gladiator, and how he lost his hair, before we are shot to the dark dimension where Krugarr is traveling. He is ambushed from behind and held captive while a mysterious villain exclaims how he wants to kill The Ancient One (Dr. Strange in the future).
Back in New York, Rancor tries to sneak up on Doom to impale him, but is caught. Instead of just fighting him, Rancor talks to him instead, asking him why he’s looking at a projection of the moon. It turns out he’s looking for the Inhumans, but can’t seem to locate them. Another villain, one that is watching Doom watch the moon, chimes in. We don’t yet know who this villain is though, but like most villains, he wants “ultimate revenge”.
We are now back with the Guardians as they experience more turbulence. They again look outside and this time they see that it is Dormammu, the old Dr. Strange villain, that has ahold of their ship.
Next Issue: It’s all Galactic Guardians all the time as the Guardians of the Galaxy wait their turn.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
There are a lot of tribute albums out there in the musical ether. Most of those albums are made with one thing in mind: money. Record executives put together as many relatively known artists as they can to cover a few of a band’s greatest hits in order to get die-hard fans to shell out an extra twelve to fifteen dollars for a “complete” collection (I’ve fallen into this trap a couple times). No one is denying the talent of the musicians compiled for most tribute albums, but it still doesn’t look like much more than a cash grab for the record company at the very least.
Here’s how you put together a proper tribute album:
1. You make sure that, even though you’re still charging the full price for the album ($12.00), 100% of the proceeds goes directly to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. That’s right, 100%.
2. You compile some of the best bands and artists in the business to be a part of it. Look at this list of the artists involved:
b. Tenacious D
e. Killswitch Engage
And that’s not even the full list! (the only thing that could have made it better is if they somehow got the current Black Sabbath with Ozzy to cover a Dio track).
What you have, when all is said and done is one of the best tribute albums I have ever heard. It doesn’t hurt that the songs in their original form are so strong (pulling from not only Dio’s solo work but also his time in both Black Sabbath and Rainbow). My favorite tracks are all of the Black Sabbath covers (“I”, “The Mob Rules”, “Man on the Silver Mountain”) but there is not a bad track in the bunch.
If you loved Dio, or just want to honor his memory by doing something good for a good charity (and getting something out of it besides just that warm and fuzzy feeling) this is the album for you. If you want to hear a great collection of metal music by some of the best in the business, both past and present, this is absolutely the album for you. Hell, you can’t go wrong. Buy this album.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Friday, May 9, 2014
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Well, according to the cover, not only do we get the end of the Badoon battle, but we also get the return of Aleta, meaning she actually beat Starhawk and has reclaimed his body as her own? Only time and the $1.25 cover price (God bless you early 90’s comics pricing) will tell for sure.
We pick up exactly where we left off as the Captain Universe-empowered Badoon is kneeling over Charlie ready to kill him, while Dr. Strange and Vance Astro are arriving on the scene. Even though this is supposed to be a one n one fight, Vance and Dr. Strange step right in and start to defend Charlie. Now, You can’t blame Vance or Dr. Strange, as they did not know the arrangement, but surprisingly the king of the Badoon doesn’t attack the Guardians’ ship as promised, which is doubly perplexing when Nikki and Talon join the fight as well. They are fighting Captain Universe though, a being with all of the power of the…universe? Right on cue, the Badoon gets right back up and starts to attack the Guardians again.
We make a quick detour to New York City in the thirty-first century as Retox, the realiteevee-loving gang of miscreants have finally found the complex that the signal was coming from. Unfortunately for them, Rancor and her mutants are already there.
Another quick detour takes out into deep space, where Aleta is cradling an infant in her arms. Now if you don’t know Starhawk’s history, this might confuse you, but the tragedy of Starhawk is that he relives his life over and over again, which means that he eventually returns to the form of an infant and grows up again and again throughout history, always retaining his memories. The way that Aleta beat him, and assumed control of their shared body, is that she sped up the inevitable and returned him to his infant form sooner than expected. She then, unceremoniously drops him in a jar and flies off, enjoying her new body. What happens to Starhawk from there, I have no idea, but it does seem strange that he is now just a baby in a jar. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Now we are back on the Badoon homeworld where, in his haste to help, Talon casts a spell that doesn’t work quite as he planned, which basically means that Talon is the Orko of the Guardians. That’s a great title to have. The Badoon gears up for a killing blow when all of a sudden Aleta shows up and blasts him. They start duking it out while the rest of the Guardians stand around and watch, basically making Aleta Carmelo Anthony and the Guardians the rest of the New York Knicks on any given possession.
In the most clichéd comic book moment yet, the Guardians realize that with their powers combined they can defeat the Badoon. They all hit him at once, knocking him out. Dr. Strange then goes in and removes the Captain Universe energy from the Badoon, turning him into a plain old dirty reptile. Everyone teleports back to the ship, and Aleta threatens the Badoon king before she joins them. At the end of that exchange, the Badoon king finds Charlie’s dagger (the one Yondu gave him) and gives some kind of foreshadowy smile. We’ll see if anything comes of that.
The Guardians realize that they need the help of Martinex if Charlie is to survive, so they set out on a course to find him. Just as it’s revealed that they may not make it to Martinex in time anyway because Charlie apparently has a massive blood clot in his throat that is choking him, we get a glimpse at the ass of our surprise stowaway. We’ll have to wait until next time to find out who it is in full.
Next Issue: We find out who the stowaway is and see if she can help Charlie keep from choking to death.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Andrew Rose was modeled after Drew Rosenhaus, the football agent of Terrell Owens (among others). I conceived this storyline around the time T.O. was playing for the Cowboys and I was treated to seeing Rosenhaus in action. I figured if there was any logical representative of an agent in the animal kingdom it would be a snake.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It can either transport you back to o a time and place and enhance your experience with whatever media is doing the transporting, or it can transport you back in time and make you think “why the hell was I so enamored with that?” Recently I have played two video games on either side of that coin. A Link Between Worlds falls so far on the positive side of that spectrum that I cannot recommend it with any more vigor if I was being paid by Nintendo themselves. (The second game will be getting its own “Late to the Party Video Game Review” in the upcoming months when I finish it).
I have long enjoyed the Legend of Zelda games, my favorite being the original Game Boy offering Link’s Awakening. All of my favorite Zelda games though followed the same formula: a top-down camera angle, multiple dungeons and tons of items to enhance my experience. The stories have always been good, if not relatively formulaic, but they were just a vehicle to get me to the dungeons. Hell, at least Zelda tried to have a different story each time, unlike Mario games which are still doing the whole “Koopa steals the princess, go rescue her by beating up all his kids” thing. I loved Hyrule, how it was an open world game, but not really. You had a direction and if you wanted to follow it you absolutely could, but if you wanted to explore on your own, that’s cool too. Side-quests were not a part of the game (they were more like mini-games that had no real bearing on your completion of the game aside from maybe giving you a piece of a heart). You could find all of the heart containers and be well equipped to fight Ganon at the end, or you could get the bare minimum and still complete the game, no biggie. Many games have tried to replicate this feel, but Zelda has always done it best.
This brings us to A Link Between Worlds, the most recent offering in the Legend of Zelda franchise and the first game to utilize the classic top-down camera angle since 2005’s Game Boy Advance offering The Minish Cap. I fell out of touch with the Zelda series for quite some time as I didn’t really play a lot of Nintendo games for much of my late high school and college years. When I got back into Nintendo games, the Zelda series had morphed into the over-the-shoulder camera view that I couldn’t really attribute to the series, it never felt the same (though two people who’s video game opinions I trust implicitly, my brother Nik, and good friend from high school Ian, have both implored me to give them a shot). When I heard that there would be a new Zelda game that utilized the mechanic that I assumed was long since forgotten I was overjoyed. When I heard that it was going to be set in the same world as A Link to the Past (the lone Super Nintendo Zelda game) my excitement grew even more.
I picked up the game many months after its release (unfortunately in the real world, a mortgage trumps a return to Hyrule every time) and was blown away from the opening screen. It took me back to 1992, providing that same sense of excitement and wonder that I felt seeing A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening for the first time. The best part was that I was a more seasoned gamer this time around so I wasn’t as frustrated by the difficulty of the Legend of Zelda series. The game played just as I expected and just as I hoped it would. It had everything that I was looking for in a Zelda game, from the multiple dungeons, items and characters that I remembered from earlier games. I found the fact that you could only rent items at first to be kind of strange, I was used to finding them in the dungeons and keeping them, but this mechanic did put more of an onus on doing everything possible to avoid dying (when you die all of your rented items go back to the shop) and forced you to strategize a bit. Do you rent all of the items you can and then try and go as far as you can or do you rent them piecemeal and do a little bit at a time (a lot of it has to do with how confident you are in not dying).
The fact that you can eventually buy the items is a welcome sight, and it makes sense because the rupees in this game are plentiful. Of course it also helps that your bombs and arrows are supplied by magic powder and not their own inventory like those previous Zelda games. That way, you don’t have to hope you find the item refills, you just wait until your magic-meter replenishes itself. This does take a bit of strategy out of the game in terms of conserving said items as you’ll never run out, but I actually didn’t mind it. The graphics are similar to A Link to the Past but updated for the 3DS. The only problem I have is that aside from Link and Zelda, most of the human characters look like someone took the WiiU’s Mii-Maker and just threw a bunch of random characters together. The generic-ness of those secondary and tertiary characters takes away from how well everything else was realized in this game.
The dungeons are not as frustrating as I remember A Link to the Past’s dungeons to be, but again, that may be because it has been many years and many video game hours since I last played that game. Regardless, there is some thought that needs to go into the puzzles here, it’s not always flip a switch and you’re done (with the tornado rod cave being the one that gave both me and my girlfriend the most difficulty). Regardless, the difficulty is not insurmountable and it actually adds to the fun of the game. If I was able to breeze through the game in a manner of hours, I would feel cheated (especially since a Zelda game will never be sold for much less than its initial sale price). Because the game provides a challenge, and hours of entertainment on top of that, it is well worth the price of admission.
The new mechanic is that Link can travel between “worlds” (Hyrule and Lorule) through cracks in walls by turning himself to a two-dimensional painting of himself. I was curious as to how this would work when I first heard about it, but the mechanic is basically the same as A Link to the Past’s magic mirror, you can only use it in certain areas that have the cracks, that’s all. The ability does come in handy for boss fights as well as to complete some of the puzzles in the dungeons, so it’s nice to see that the game designers really tried to utilize the 2D aspect for more than just travelling between worlds.
While this game is phenomenal in its own right, it is equally as frustrating because of what it is. This is return to form for the Zelda series, one that could, and should, be capitalized on by Nintendo as their own titles for their systems (especially the WiiU) are few and far between. Just picture A Link Between Worlds on your television at home. Instead of looking at a tiny screen on your 3DS, you could be controlling Link on the big screen, enjoying all the care and detail that the designers put into this game at an enhanced size. The 3D function on the DS does not need to be used for this game (and I didn’t use it more than a few times just to test it) so that would not be a huge deal. Hell, make a brand new top-down Zelda game. Even if you want to release a regular over-the-shoulder Zelda game every two years or so, release a top-down nostalgic game in the interim years. People will buy it, people will buy it the day it comes out and play the shit out of it. Instead of releasing another Mario game with the same tired premise and gameplay, let’s release something everyone really wants. If Nintendo really wants to reinvigorate its brand and become a player in the video game wars then they should start to think about their brands, the ones they won’t let anyone else touch, and really crank up production on those titles.
In short, A Link Between Worlds is one of the best games I have played in a long time and uses the nostalgia factor in the best way possible. If you like old Nintendo games, hell, if you like good video games in general, this is the game for you. I could not give it a higher recommendation.
Monday, May 5, 2014
Friday, May 2, 2014
Thursday, May 1, 2014
It’s an all-out brawl between Captain Universe (who has inhabited the body of a Badoon) and Charlie-27 (who is now bald?) At first, I thought that Kevin West had made a mistake that just wasn’t caught by the editor in regards to Charlie’s lack of hair, but as the issue goes along, we’ll see that this actually makes sense. Not only that, but this issue features the return of Vance Astro to the fold as well as the one, the only, Dr. Strange!
We open on Charlie, who has since awoke from his beating by Nikki last issue and wants revenge. If you remember, the former lovers are fighting over the right to fight the Badoon one on one. Nikki got the upper hand early, but Charlie is back with a vengeance. Now that he’s not being caught off guard, he’s able to withstand the shots from Nikki’s knuckle blasters. To help her case, Nikki decides to up the ante by controlling the flames on her head and directing them at Charlie’s face.
We make a quick pit-stop to New York City of the future where the Comandeers are being tortured so that they give up the info on the location of the destroyed realiteevee center. And of course, they cave.
Now, in a major shock, we jump again to Doctor Doom and Rancor’s mutants, where we learn that it was Doom himself and not the Badoon that came up with realiteevee after all. Doom used the Badoon so as to stay in the shadows this whole time, but he was the one pulling the strings. Now, his plan is to use the mutants to reestablish realiteevee and continue to control the masses.
Now we are back in the present, in the home of Dr. Strange as Cap ad Vance Astro are asking him to take Vance to the Badoon homeworld. Strange says that it is possible but they will have to travel through the dark dimension to get there. Strange is reluctant, but finally agrees to do so and they begin their journey through the crazy Steve Ditko-esque landscape.
On the Guardians’ ship, Charlie beans down to the Badoon homeworld, and we see that he beat Nikki and tied her and Talon up so that they couldn’t interfere. He shows up on the Badoon homeworld in the their gladiatorial arena, sans hair, which was burned off in the fight with Nikki (which explains the cover). At the same time, the Captain Universe Badoon emerges and starts beating the crap out of Charlie. When your opponent has the power of the universe on his side, there’s really not a whole lot you can do, and Charlie’s finding that out the hard way.
We now travel to the thirty-first century and see Dr. Doom recapping a lot of what has been going on in the last few issues, between the creation of realiteevee and the destruction of the realiteevee complex. In order to get Rancor on board, Doom has apparently found the missing Wolverine claw that Rancor lost while fighting Talon. He gives it back to her and she immediately thinks of stabbing him with it. Talk about your lack of appreciation, jeez.
Back on the Badoon homeworld, Charlie and the Badoon are still duking it out, while Nikki and Talon can only watch. All of a sudden someone that has been stowing away on the ship for a couple issues now shows up and shoots them in the back. Back on the homeworld, Charlie is losing miserably. Everything that he tries is being countered by the Badoon. Everything seems pretty hopeless, as not only will Charlie lose this battle, but the lives of Nikki and Talon will be lost as well.
Strange and Vance are heading through the dark dimension, battling the mindless ones, when they come out on the other side and see the Badoon crouching over Charlie, ready to stab him with his own dagger.
Next Issue: Will Charlie be stabbed? Or is the Badoon merely going to clean up Charlie’s bald head? Plus, there’s at least a twenty percent chance Dr. Strange and Vance do something useful.