Monday, April 22, 2019

Longbox Junk - Winter World

Hey there, folks!

Here's another one of my older reviews I've decided to blow the dust off of and rescue from the forgotten archives of a well-known comic site I used to work for that barely even cares about comic reviews any more.  Except for a bit of rubbing my sleeve on it to shine up a few spots and add creator credits, this one is ALMOST exactly the way it was originally published. . .mainly because I don't have these issues any more.  Must have sold or traded them somewhere down the line, so I don't have the opportunity for a re-read or to scan any interior artwork.  

Ready for a quick one?  Let's do it!

Travel back in time with me, Ladies and Gentlemen. Marvel at the smoooooooth texture of this new thing called "Baxter Paper". Where are we? We're in a time without Facebook or smartphones. We're in the year 1987 and taking a look at Eclipse Comics' three issue mini, "Winter World".


ECLIPSE (1987)
SCRIPTS: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Jorge Zaffino
COVERS: Jorge Zaffino

Issue 1

The setting is about 100 years in the future. The world is pretty much frozen over for some reason not explained (at least in the 1st issue). The main character, Scully, is a travelling trader in what was once Texas.

He encounters some bandits and with the help of his. . .er. . .trained badger. . .frees a young girl (Wynn) being held by them. On the way to drop her off at a settlement, they are attacked and taken prisoner to work as slaves at "The Farm" a settlement in an old covered baseball stadium.

After Scully is sent to die working in the sewers, he manages to escape with the help of Superbadger. . .and the tale ends with Scully deciding to be an A-hole and leaving Wynn behind to save his own hide. Whether or not the badger agrees or not isn't really touched on.

A simple, yet strong start. The trained badger is a bit of an awkward ex machina that I'm sure can be explained with two words: "The Eighties".  Anyone who remembers "The Beastmaster" will know what I'm sayin'.

Other than badger nonsense, I have high hopes that this will continue to be an enjoyable read. One other thing for those reading this. . .this series is NOT for kids. It's violent, has a bit of nudity, and doesn't shy away from bad language at all.

Issue 2

Not as good as the first issue, but still strong. Scully decides he has a heart after all and decides to go back to The Farm to rescue Wynn. To help him in his rescue mission, he recruits a tribe of people who live in a Pizza Hut.

 They infiltrate The Farm by letting themselves get sold as slaves. Scully gets a finger cut off as punishment for escaping the first time. Probably not part of the plan. The second chapter ends with Scully and the bear clan warriors inside and waiting for their chance to strike.

Not much going on in this issue except setup for the final chapter. I guess this is what I get for going with a 3 issue series. Oh. . .the badger is still the most resourceful bada$$ in the book. HE didn't get a finger cut off, anyway.

Issue 3

It's pretty much all action for the finale to this short series. Wynn messes up Scully's plan to rescue her by escaping to rescue him first. In the process, all hell breaks loose. Fire, explosions, a brutal knife fight, Rahrah the superbadger comes to Wynn's rescue! 

Bigbite and the bear clan think Scully betrayed them and vow vengeance. After their escape, Scully and Wynn decide to go south after they see an airplane flying in that direction, not knowing that the lone bear clan survivor is following them.

Overall, this issue was a VERY fast read. The art wasn't as good as the previous issues. . .something wrong with the colors and too much ink. Still, it was a strong finish to the story that nicely sets up the next chapter. . .er. . .27 years later!


All in all, this was a short, sweet, and quick reading mini. I thought it was pretty good for what it was. . .an introduction to a new world. Unfortunately, that world so well introduced in this series wasn't revisited for a LONG time. As a standalone tale though, it does a good job. There were weak parts, like the Superbadger, but otherwise I'd suggest this mini for a good read.

And there it is. . .Winter World. An extremely grim vision of the future.
You may now return to laughing at the kitty videos on your Facebook feed.

Not much to add here this time.  As I mentioned above, somewhere over the past 10 years or so since I wrote this, I've either sold or traded these issues, so I can't do a re-read.  That said, I think the interesting thing here is seeing just how much more long-winded I've become without an editorial hand on my leash.  This whole three issue review is about as long as a write-up of a single issue would be for me these days.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  I must ponder this important question. . .

Next up. . .

Another "Rescue Review"

Fair Warning.  I considered the next series the LOW bar for Longbox Junk for quite a few years. IDW and Wildstorm's X-Files/30 Days of Night crossover.  

 Be there or be square!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Longbox Junk - Ghost Rider 2099 Part 2: Issues 13 - 25

In a way, it's kind of funny (to me, anyway).

I THOUGHT when I decided to blow the dust off of some of these old reviews of mine that it would be easy-squeezy. Throw in a few pics. . .type in some story titles and creator credits. . .puff up the introductions and conclusions. Other than that, just copy/paste and there you go.  Not that I'm lazy, but. . .okay. . .sometimes I'm kinda lazy.

I've discovered that there's a little more to it than that, and trying to get these reviews to fit the Blogger format is just about as much work as it was writing them in the first place! The archive I'm copying from isn't compatible with Blogger, so a simple copy/paste turns into every word and every paragraph having a massive amount of space between them. . .to the point that it completely blows out the Blogger framework. So I have to go in and spend just as much time editing the spaces out as it probably would take me to just do a full re-write!

But enough of MY awful First World Problems.
Let's get into the back half of Ghost Rider 2099!

MARVEL (1994 - 1996)
PART 2: ISSUES 13 - 25


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Graham Higgins
COVER: Graham Higgins

I don't have a LOT of Marvel's 2099 titles. Ghost Rider 2099 is the only one I have a full run of. I have a few of the other issues (Mostly the first issues. . .SUCH. . .SHINY. . .COVERS!) but I guess at some point, Doctor Doom 2099 took over America as President.

This issue ties in with what was probably a big crossover, as the title changes from "Ghost Rider 2099" to "Ghost Rider 2099 A.D.", which I guess means After Doom. Along with the title change comes a very nice upgrade to higher-quality paper, so there's that.

The issue itself? Mostly pretty average, except for some scenery chewing excellence as Doom takes over D/Monix Corporation by implanting a control chip in the brain of director Dyson Kellerman and an interesting meeting of some sort of resistance movement in Cyberspace where online avatars meet in a virtual bar or lounge. The rest of it? Ghost Rider's shattered body slowly repairs itself through the issue. The art is no bueno. . .especially when it comes to Ghost Rider himself. It's pretty blah, but GR is just bad.



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Graham Higgins
COVER: Jan Anton Harps


Using secret codes in Ghost Rider's programming provided by Doom's deal with The Ghostworks, Ghost Rider is made into Transverse City's Federal Marshal. Ooooooookay. To make it worse, the art is just bad. It's all so bad.

The only saving grace here is the outstanding cover. Definitely frame-worthy!


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

Soooooo. . .now Ghost Rider is "The Law".

In this issue he's trying to find the source of a powerful drug that is fueling a gang war. I can't believe the pretty interesting vision of a dystopian future ruled by Corporations and controlled by media addiction has turned into a sci-fi cop show. Oh. . .and a new villain is introduced. Heartbreaker. Seems to be some sort of techno-ninja woman. Might turn out to be interesting. At least more interesting than Detective Ghost Rider.


There's a new artist on the book, and it looks a lot better, except for Ghost Rider himself. I hate this version of GR 2099. The rest of it looks nice, in a dark, scratchy, 90's "Edgy" style, though. And the cover is very, very nice!



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

God help me, but Ghost Rider is still doing his Judge Dredd imitation.

He encounters Heartbreaker and during the battle, discovers that she is a cyborg, but she escapes before he can learn more. He finds out that Max Synergy is trying to create superhumans with a powerful drug, and he hauls him into jail. . .complete with an imitation Robocop "He'll never be one of us." moment. So bad. . .so damn bad. The art is decent, but the way GR himself is portrayed is the worst. And that cover. . .why?


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminsky
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

This issue is full of "What?" moments. Ghost Rider returns home to have a discussion with his father about how he managed to turn out to be such an A-hole. His dad tells him how proud he is that he DID turn out to be an A-hole. Reporter Willis Adams surfs cyberspace and somehow not only knows of Ghostworks existence, but manages to unlock an archive to release some sort of Cyberspace monster called L-Cypher (and this after Doctor Doom had to use some kind of complicated cyber/magic to access Ghost Works). And then there's a virtual amusement park's holographic programs being take over by. . .SATAN?

All that and Ghost Rider still looks terrible, even though everything else looks pretty good.


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

This series has gone past a downward slide and has plummeted off the cliff. Ghost RIder (Still in faux Judge Dredd mode) is called in to Thrillsville, a virtual amusement park that has been reprogrammed to imitate the circles of hell in Dante's Inferno by some sort of cyber demon called. . .L-Cypher, because why the hell not. *facepalm*

I don't even want to read the rest of this series. 
But I will. Because I ain't a quitter, son. . .



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

God. . .when will this storyline end?

Ghost Rider fights his way through the demonic underlings of L-Cypher toward the inevitable confrontation. . .plus Heartbreaker breaks into prison to kill Max Synergy. Why? Nobody knows? Nobody Cares? What seemed to be a decent villain is wasted in favor of snarling cyber-demons. Then there's something something something about the undernet resistance breaking into a vault for reasons.

I wonder if Len Kaminski had discovered the wonderful world of meth in 1995 or if he just stopped caring. No other ways I can think of to explain the REALLY steep drop of writing quality on this title.


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

In the home stretch. . .only 5 more issues, thank God!

In this issue, Ghost RIder's final confrontation with cyber-demon L-Cypher ends with GR turning L-Cypher's programming against him for what seems like an easy win. But we see L-Cypher downloading himself into a human body and talking about continuing his "experiment", so we probably haven't seen the last of what I count as Ghost Riders second-lamest villain (First being Warewolf). Plus Kabal hires someone to build him a robot and download the mind of a slain securicorps agent into it, presumably to destroy Ghost Rider. . .or at least try.

One villain down, and another one introduced. This series has fallen into a predictable "set 'em up. . .knock 'em down" rut of monster of the month tedium. I'm starting to hate what I once loved. Sort of like my second wife. I really liked the cover on this one, though. . .so there's that.



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Mark Farmer

Ghost rider confronts and is seemingly defeated by Vengeance. We're introduced to the next villain. . .a collection of frozen human heads that have joined minds after being roused from their cryogenic sleep, giving them powerful psionic abilities. . .Ooooooooookay.

After Doom's fall from power, Ghost Rider remembers how he had been manipulated by Doom and Ghostworks and gets angry. PLUS, this is the first issue with a backup story. Former reporter Willis Adams meets up with Heartbreaker in a strip club. Cheesecake ensues with the promise of VIOLENT cheesecake next issue.

Nobody is making me read this. Why am I still doing it? WHY?



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

Ghost Rider defeats yet ANOTHER sentient robot by turning it's own programming against it. Doctor Neon gets ready to partner up with some unknown guy he met on the internet (Yep, that always ends well) to take down Ghost Rider. All that AND pointless violent cheesecake that's not even drawn that great in the backup! I have to say that I did like the cover on this one, though. Nicely done!



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

Ghost Rider (having quit doing his Judge Dredd impersonation now, thank God) is once again a criminal and is quickly finding out that he doesn't have any friends left after his time as a Lawman. In the meantime, the next villain is being set up as a wave of psychic energy from Psiclone (The frozen severed head monster I mentioned a couple issues back) starts driving everyone in Transverse City insane with hallucinations. Doctor Neon continues to plot with his unknown internet friend. Awkwardness is sure to ensue as Ghost Rider shows up at his door looking for help.

To tell the truth, I liked this issue a bit better than the past half dozen. The letters page is full of woe about the upcoming cancellation of the series, so hopefully it will go out strong. Please, God. . .let it go out strong.


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

In the setup to the final issue, Psiclone is defeated by D/Monix head Kellerman using Doom's control chip. . .and ending up in seeming control over the whole city. Also, a broken-down Ghost Rider is rebooted by Doctor Neon, and we discover that Neon's internet hookup is actually the real Zero Cochrane. . .or claims to be anyway.

Not a bad issue. Not really that great, but at least it wasn't awful, which is a good thing given the state of most of the back half of this series.



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Ashley Wood

I won't say it ended strong, but at least it ended well. It seems that Kaminski pulled enough care out of his. . .hat. . .to at least give us a decent ending to a series that started really strong and went way off the rails.

The Undernet Resistance destroys D/Monix headquarters and their control over the city. The source code Zero Cochrane flushed the corrupted code that we've known as Ghost Rider out of his body and took it over, riding off into the sunset after helping save Transit City. The Zero Cochrane code that was being controlled by Ghostworks was cleansed and freed as pure data and now exists to roam Cyberspace. Ghost works finds themselves being the ones controlled for once as the "Beta" Zero makes them his first order of business.

And most other loose ends are tied up. . .except for whatever happened to Heartbreaker or the human body L-Cypher downloaded himself into. But at this point, do I even care? Not really. I'm just happy that the series wrapped up on a decent note. Not a high note, but decent. And really, after wading through the crap this series turned into, that's definitely a good thing.


I really liked the IDEAS contained in this series, and a unique take on a fairly overplayed character. But although the concept was brilliant, the execution was fatally flawed by being a mainstream comic sold by a mainstream company. It was supposed to be about going AGAINST the status quo, but ended up being forced to MAINTAIN the status quo.

I loved it at first, then hated it and had to force myself to stick with it, but at least the ending wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Sort of like with my third wife.

And there you have it. . .one man's opinion of Ghost Rider 2099. A noble experiment gone wrong when it could have been OH so right. It's a damn shame it had to turn out this way.


As I went back through this series to scan covers and interior art for posting this on Longbox Junk, I THINK I might have been a little too harsh on Ghost Rider 2099. I didn't want to re-write the whole thing, because it's what I was thinking at the time I wrote it, but on a second read-through, it's not really as bad as what I thought at the time (roughly 10 years ago).

The back half is still very weak, compared to the front half. But taken as a whole, Ghost Rider 2099 was TRYING to do something new, and really deserves some credit for that. They didn't stick the landing, and you can see where Marvel was trying to appeal to readers who wanted less Cyberpunk world-building and speculation on where we as a technological society are heading, and more superhero battles against monsters. . .which pretty much justifies my ORIGINAL conclusion of Ghost Rider 2099's fatal flaw being that it was a mainstream comic sold by a mainstream company to a mainstream audience.

Overall, I have the strong feeling that, with the current success of Spider-Man 2099, I really think that Ghost Rider 2099 could benefit from a reboot into the current, somewhat "darker" and more adult comics scene that exists today. Done right, this is a title and a character that could thrive with today's comic audience.  It's just a shame that in the time it was on the stands (1994 - 1996), the mainstream comic audience wasn't really ready for this kind of comic, and it shows in the way Marvel handled it.

So (despite some of what's written above) I'm going to go ahead and give Ghost Rider 2099 a recommendation.  It isn't great.  Parts of it are actually pretty poor.  But if you read it thinking about what MIGHT have been, and sort of read between the mainstream Marvel lines, it's not bad.  I think maybe my disappointment over the PROMISE of Ghost Rider 2099 being wasted fueled a lot of the venom in the original review.

Next up. . .

I continue to do my part to save the Earth by recycling old reviews that are just sitting there gathering dust in the archives of a comic site that doesn't really care about comics any more.

Travel with me back to 1987 for a look at Eclipse's 3 issue Winter World mini.

Be there or be square!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Longbox Junk - Ghost Rider 2099 Part 1: Issues 1 - 12

And now for something a little different, but sort of the same. . .

At one time, I wrote regular reviews of new comics for an established site that shall go unnamed. As time went on, I was also commissioned to do occasional reviews of older comics, eventually becoming one of the very few reviewers that would take on an entire series at a time (as far as I know, I still am).

Writing those older comic reviews led to the Longbox Junk blog after I got tired of the deadline grind for new comic reviews and quit writing for pay. I was more interested in the older comics anyway and stuck with that as my new (and continuing) labor of love.

So what we're going to have here in Longbox Junk for a while are some of those old reviews. I decided to not let them go to waste gathering dust in the search archive of a website that no longer really cares about comics.

You'll notice that they are a little different than other reviews here on Longbox Junk. I had a strict word count I was working under, so most of them are extremely short, compared to my long-winded ways of today. I've made changes, of course.

One of the biggest is that I was under a one image only requirement, so I've thrown in plenty of pretty pictures to fill things out a bit. I've also expanded some of the introduction and conclusion sections, moved things a bit to fit the different format here, and added creator credits and story titles to the issues, but other than those few tweaks, the reviews are pretty much the same as they were.


For a while, you're going to get some slightly expanded and modified versions of reviews I wrote years ago. It's not that I don't have new stuff to put in here, but I feel these were just going to waste. I have a saying that (for me) covers pretty much every kind of entertainment from books to movies to video games to comics. . .If I haven't read/seen/played it, it's new to me. Hopefully, you'll enjoy these older reviews in the same light.

SO. . .

This introduction is ALREADY half as long as the original review for this ENTIRE HALF OF THE SERIES. But in for a penny, in for a pound. Let's talk about the series at hand for a minute. . .because in the original review, I just gave a title and jumped right in on the first issue, due to word count restraints.

Just as a bit of background, the 2099 line of comics in general was a fairly short-lived attempt by Marvel to create a combination science fiction/superhero universe set 100 years in the future and featuring futuristic new versions of established characters, but still set in the same (future) universe as (then) present continuity. . .so that The Punisher (for example) was an actual historic figure in 2099 continuity.

The line was pretty well received by readers, with Spider-Man 2099 being the big hit of the bunch (and actually still an ongoing character), but other titles (such as X-Men 2099, Punisher 2099, and Doom 2099) also did quite well. There was even an original character created and scripted by Stan Lee as his last regular series for Marvel in the 2099 line, Ravage 2099!

But eventually the 2099 line ran out of steam after about 6 years and (except for occasional appearances and the still-popular Spider-Man 2099) the whole thing was quietly retired. Ghost Rider 2099 was one of the "second wave" 2099 titles, and never enjoyed the popularity of some of the other series.

I picked up the whole series on the cheap during a big dollar box sale at a comic shop in Florida about 10 years ago, intrigued by the idea of a cyberpunk version of Ghost Rider and drawn in by some great covers. This was my FIRST full series review. . .

Let's (re) Do This!

MARVEL (1994 - 1996)
PART 1: ISSUES 1 - 12


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Chris Bachalo
COVER: Chris Bachalo

The story gets off to a fast start. . .Zero Cochran is a hacker in a futuristic city between cities made up of highways and exit ramps who is murdered by a rival gang for some stolen data. He wakes up in a strange area of cyberspace and is given another chance at "life" as an agent for beings who call themselves "The Ghostworks". First order of business? Avenging his own death.

The art by Bachalo, from the shiny 90's-Tastic Chromium cover to the final page is simply superb! His 90's vision of the future of the internet is especially interesting. . .

It holds up remarkably well for being an all-but forgotten part of a failed 90's experiment by Marvel to build a new science fiction-based superhero continuity. Some of the references are obviously 90's (David Letterman, Captain Picard) and would probably be long-forgotten in 2099, but this issue is a fantastic start to the series.



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Chris Bachalo
COVER: Mark Buckingham

After the stellar first issue, the second calms down a bit and begins to build the world of Ghost Rider 2099 a bit more. We see that everything is ruled by giant corporations, one of which was behind the hiring of the gang that killed Zero. We also see Zero's girlfriend (Kylie) find someone (the inexperienced hacker Doctor Neon) to help her decode the final message Zero sent her before dying.

Even with the world-building, a chunk of the issue is taken up with Ghost Rider eluding law enforcement by fleeing into a part of the city that's pretty much a war zone known as Detonation Boulevard.

All in all, this issue wasn't as good as the first issue, but it wasn't bad at all. The art is still the star here, including another fantastic cover.


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham, Ken Sutherland & Peter Gross
COVER: Mark Buckingham

In this issue, Ghost Rider realizes that he needs to take his limitations into mind. . .he's in an incredibly destructive and powerful robotic body, but that body runs on a battery, and his power can get low if he doesn't watch it. So he decides to play it smart instead of tough, using a holofield disguise as Zero to find a place to lay low and charge up.

While he does, he runs into Warewolf, one of his partners on his last job he thought was dead, but doesn't realize that Warewolf has been transformed by the D/Monix corporation to hunt for Ghost Rider.

Not a bad issue, but not great. The writer is still world building and introducing characters. One thing I noticed, though. . .there's FOUR pencilers credited on this issue. The art is beginning to slip a bit. In particular the cover isn't great.



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Peter Gross
COVER: Mark Buckingham

Most of this issue was taken up with a fight between Ghost Rider and his former friend, Warewolf, who has been transformed by D/Monix Corporation into a wolf-like robot meant to hunt and destroy Ghost Rider. Kylie and Doctor Neon are also taken prisoner by D/Monix and they learn that Zero is dead.

Didn't really like this issue that much. The art was better than the last issue, but the cover was no bueno. Also, D/Monix is baffled by Ghost Rider's technology, but they have the ability to create a giant wolf robot with a human's mind downloaded into it? WTF? Makes no sense.

One funny moment was when two underlings recover the information D/Monix is looking for and they're plotting to keep it for themselves. . .the information in question is on a floppy disc. Welcome back to 1994!



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Mark Buckingham
COVER: Mark Buckingham

In this issue, we find out that the D/monix executive who sold Zero out and caused his death was actually his father.

Most of the issue is Ghost Rider infiltrating D/Monix headquarters to confront his father, steal the data (floppy disc, LOL), and rescue his girlfriend. Not a bad issue at all. The art is a little strange when it comes to human faces, but the close ups of Ghost Rider's face are fantastic and creepy. 

This issue seems like a final bit of introduction and bringing the team of Ghost Rider, Doctor Neon, and Kylie together. One of the stronger issues so far.



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Kyle Hotz
COVER: Mark Buckingham

In order to save Kylie, Ghost Rider has to procure some rare drugs. His search sends him to several places before heading for New York at the end of the issue.  The cover for issue 7 has Spider Man 2099 on it, so I'm assuming that wall crawling hijinks will ensue in Ghost Rider's first crossover. It's Marvel. I knew it would happen sooner or later. Marvel has always been about the crossovers. That's why I don't normally read much Marvel.

ANYWAY. . .this issue.

This issue was pretty good, but seems like it was all a convenient reason to get Ghost Rider moving toward the mentioned crossover. I remember REALLY loving Kyle Hotz's art back in "The Day". I still like it, but don't love it. Sort of how I feel about my first wife. . .


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Kyle Hotz
COVER: Mark Buckingham

Like I predicted last issue, this was Ghost Rider 2099's first crossover. Most of this issue was spent on a standard "They don't understand that they're really on the same side." comic book superhero fight between Ghost Rider and Spiderman.

Not the best issue of this series, but better than the Warewolf battle earlier on. I guess that since Spidey was (and still is) the big star of the 2099 universe, they needed him on the cover. Fair enough. A throwaway filler issue, though.

And about the art. I've noticed that Kyle Hotz isn't really able to draw feet or legs very well. Then again, I think maybe quite a few 90's artists suffered from the same thing.



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Kyle Hotz
COVER: Chris Bachalo

An interesting issue where Ghost Rider has to link into Kylie's mind in order to find a memory that is keeping her from waking up. It's a strange trip through locked doors and repressed memories until he finds the one. . .it's the moment she learns he's dead and she's reliving it over and over. He helps her let go by being a massive jerk, then leaves to go find out more about Shadow Works, the strange beings who created him.

Like I said, interesting in the way Zero compares the human mind to the internet, but not great. And Hotz's art still makes me wonder if he ever really LOOKED at a human leg. . .



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Mark Buckingham
COVER: Kyle Hotz

When Zero returns to an old hideout in Little Calcutta, he stumbles into a final confrontation with Warlord Jeter (from the first couple of issues). After he gets done killing his old enemy, he discovers that something is killing residents of his old neighborhood and decides to do something about it.

Another filler issue that's basically an excuse for Ghost Rider to get into a fight. Hotz wasn't on art this time, and the issue was better for it. I really liked the first few pages, showing the artist's vision of Zero searching cyberspace for The Ghostworks as a literal "Ghost in The Machine". The cover, on the other hand. . .not good.


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Kyle Hotz
COVER: Tom Taggart

Ghost Rider spends the first part of this issue trying to find information about who or what is killing people in his old neighborhood. Finally he decides to disguise himself as Warlord Jeter and draw them out.

When he does, he finds out that it is a custom killer robot being remotely controlled. We find out that it's part of some sort of bloodsport being played by a group of rich people.

At the end, Ghost Rider finds himself facing a half dozen killer robots. Also, a new villain? Hero? Not sure. . .is revealed. Coda, a self-aware combat robot working for Securicorps.

10 issues in and this series is starting to become "Monster of The Month." I still have 15 issues to go, God help me. I hope it starts getting better again. There's been a distinct downward slide.

One other thing. The cover. I can't tell if it's a really detailed painting or a photographed sculpture. Either way, it's fantastic!


SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Kyle Hotz
COVER: Kyle Hotz

Continuing from the previous issue, Ghost Rider finds himself fighting a half-dozen remote controlled combat robots used in bloodsport games by a group of wealthy citizens.

We also get to meet Zero's broadcast-addicted mother, a reporter (Willis Adams) goes on the hunt for Ghost Rider, and the Securicorps combat droid Coda does the same as Ghost Rider sets out to find who was controlling the combat games after he defeats their robots.

Not a great issue at all. It's interesting in that it shows a vision of virtual reality that may yet exist someday, as well as the consequences of media addiction that also may come to pass.

It's strange to read a vision of the future that doesn't include social media, but Zero's mother being addicted to television to the point that she becomes distressed and sick when the broadcast is interrupted, touches on what the future may hold a bit.



SCRIPTS: Len Kaminski
PENCILS: Kyle Hotz
COVER: Unknown (But credited as the first Marvel comic ever to have an entirely computer-generated cover in the letter page)

This was a pretty poor issue, but once again, there were interesting points to it.

The first is the role of media in this dystopian future as Willis Adams tracks down Ghost Rider as he's getting ready to kill the last remaining member of the rich gaming club who have been killing the poor in Zero's old neighborhood. He condemns Ghost Rider as thinking he's judge, jury, and executioner, so Ghost Rider leaves the woman (now an insane cannibal from mental overload) alone with the reporter, who is forced to kill her live on camera to save himself.

The second interesting part is at the end of the issue with an appearance by Doom 2099 using a techno/magic ritual to force his way into the cyberspace hiding place of The Ghostworks. There's a saying that any advanced technology will be seen as magic (I paraphrase) and this was a great representation of that theory.

Other than that, the rest of the issue is taken up with a ho-hum battle between Coda and Ghost Rider that sees Coda the winner through superior tactics and GR supposedly blown to pieces. But since there's still 11 issues left, I doubt he's down for good.


I really liked a lot of the IDEAS Marvel was trying out here. Unfortunately, the execution wasn't the best. It just feels like after the first few issues, everything was a bit half-hearted. Basically, it turned from being a great cyberpunk adventure into a typical superhero comic with a science fiction backdrop.

Overall, this is an enjoyable series, but I'd really like to explore more of the world surrounding Ghost Rider than read about the "monster of the month".

Up Next. . .

Ghost Rider 2099 Issues 13-25.

Be there or be square!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Longbox Junk - Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier

Yeah, yeah. . .I know.  I said Aliens vs. Predator was up next.  I found out I don't actually have all 4 issues of that series.  I'm missing the final issue.  I have 2 copies of different covers for #1, so I saw 4 issues in the box.

ANYWAY. . .How about some Captain America instead?

After Marvel backpedaled on the "Death" of Captain America and put the character through a convoluted wringer to get him back into continuity, they seemed to have had a bit of a problem deciding what to do next. 

I couldn't find much information about this stage of Cap's career, but this odd little mini looks like it was SUPPOSED to be an ongoing series. . .especially since it has an Annual issue (that I don't have), which is sort of strange for a mini.  And then there's the ending, clearly setting up an ongoing story with a character that never appeared anywhere else other than this mini.

I'm not sure what happened, but clearly Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier wasn't the Captain America fans had been waiting for.  But is it any good? Let's find out! 


Marvel (2010)
SCRIPTS: Ed Brubaker
PENCILS: Dale Eaglesham
COVERS: Carlos Pacheco


Steve Rogers receives information that the grandson of Dr. Erskine (who developed the original super-soldier serum) has perfected the lost Super-Soldier formula and plans on selling it to the highest bidder. 

Rogers heads to Madripoor to put a stop to the auction and when Jacob Erskine is assassinated, discovers there's more to the story than he was led to believe. . . 

I really liked this first issue quite a bit. There's a lot of story packed into a single regular-sized issue. We get Captain America in less of a super-soldier and more of a super-spy role as he investigates Jacob Erskine and the return of the Super-Soldier formula. 

We see Rogers following leads, infiltrating a heavily-guarded hotel by way of disguise at a lavish party, and discovering threads of a larger conspiracy when Erskine turns out not to be the villain Cap thought. This reads more like a James Bond story than a Captain America comic, and I like the change a lot!

The art helps sell the story. . .nicely-detailed and darkly-inked lines and perfect colors that really make the panels pop. The action scenes are fluid and really showcase Cap's martial arts skills as he stealth-fights his way to the top of the hotel.

Captain America with tuxedos and femme fatales?  I like it!

Overall, this issue hits it out of the park, with an engaging super-spy story and fantastic art. All that PLUS a backup of Kirby and Simon's first Captain America story. . .which is interesting, but honestly hasn't aged well at all. 

This one's a winner!


After Jacob Erskine is assassinated and dies in his arms, Steve Rogers follows a thin trail of clues through the Madripoor underground . 

He eventually ends up at an isolated beach house where he encounters Erskine's wife, who exactly resembles Roger's first lost love (Cynthia Glass) and finally discovers the mastermind behind the plot, Machinesmith. 

The second issue in this series remains strong, but not quite as strong as the first. Once again, we see Steve Rogers in super-spy mode as he beats his way through the Madripoor underworld following clues, stakes out Erskine's wife, and recon's her hideaway. 

I really like seeing Steve Rogers in a Espionage role. . .unfortunately, things get a bit weak at the end when he finally puts the pieces together and discovers that Anita Erskine is a super-realistic android created by Machinesmith. . .who traps Rogers and uses a ray to de-activate his Super Soldier serum. 

In other words, the story takes a turn from super-spy action into typical comic book fare. A bit disappointing.

Overall, this issue is very strong until the ending, with fantastic art and Captain America in James Bond mode. Unfortunately, the weak ending doesn't really make me want to jump into the next issue.


After his Super-Soldier serum has been neutralized by Machinesmith, Steve Rogers fights his way out of captivity and with the help of the android Anita Erskine, regains his power and sets out to stop the auction of the new Super-Soldier formula. 

This third issue slumps a bit compared to the previous two. I was liking the "James Bond Captain America" style that the first two issues established. . .this issue is full of supervillain monologues and posturing from Machinesmith. . .typical superhero stuff.

And then there's the ridiculous notion that Machinesmith was able to create such a perfect replica of a human being (Anita Erskine) based on only an old photograph of Captain America and Cynthia Glass from WWII that she/it was able to fool Captain America AND her husband, Jacob Erskine.

I'm not trying to be indelicate here, but. . .one would THINK that a man would notice something strange if he was sleeping with a robot! I mean. . .there's a lot of intimate details to consider when constructing the various sexy areas of an android, I would guess. AHEM. . .moving along!


The art remains extremely solid and there are some nice story moments where Steve reveals that just because he isn't super strong, that doesn't mean he forgot how to do some sweet KARATE! But this issue is the weakest so far. I'm a bit concerned that after a strong start, this isn't going to end well.

And finally. . .


Steve Rogers enlists the aid of Hank "Beast" McCoy and the android Anita Erskine to defeat Machinesmith before he can auction off the new Super-Soldier formula. . .but after the battle, he discovers that the whole thing was a ruse serving a higher conspiracy. 

Here we are at the big finish! Lots of robot punching, explosions, and heroic posing.

It ties up the story at hand nicely. . .the good guys win, of course. Unfortunately, the ending is more of a "to be continued" than a 'The End".

It's revealed in a short epilogue that Jacob Erskine wasn't actually killed, and is working for the Shadow Council. Making the whole story somewhat pointless, and in the words of Steve Rogers, "What was this mission all about, then?"

Obviously, it was all about setting up another story. . .which is fine, but this storyline was never resolved anywhere, which defeats the whole purpose of this mini.

Overall, a pretty weak ending with a lot of robot punching and a dangling end that was never resolved. Disappointing after such a strong beginning.


I have mixed feelings about this one.  On the one hand, we get Captain America in an unusual super-spy role.  On the other, we have an unresolved storyline and robot punching. 

Overall, I'd have to say that this was a valiant effort on the part of Marvel to try and do something different with Captain America, but this wasn't the Captain America the fans wanted, so we have a strange little relic. . .an obviously unfinished piece of work that just sort of lurks forgotten in bargain bins.

It's really not a bad little piece of Longbox Junk.  Give it a read if you want to see a bit of a different take on Captain America backed up by some great art.  If Marvel just had a LITTLE more spine and stuck with it, this could have been really good.

Up Next. . .

How about some pre-"Longbox Junk" comic reviews that nobody ever asked for?

Okay. . .that's not entirely true.  Somebody DID ask for these at one time. I actually wrote the reviews I'll be posting here for the next several weeks (maybe months?) on assignment for another website several years ago (For actual money! Imagine that! Getting paid for things on the internet!)

They were in a bit of a different format, so I've had to do some tweaking to fit them more into what I'm doing these days, but they're still going to look a bit different.  That said. . .by any other name or form it's STILL Longbox Junk!

I just hate to let all that work I did go to waste on a website that no longer cares about comic books at all (they're more focused on movies and T.V. these days), and they're CERTAINLY not interested in comics that don't filter into the popular culture any longer.  So I'm reclaiming my Longbox Junk and giving it back to YOU!  You're welcome.

Be there or be square!