Thursday, February 17, 2022

Longbox Junk - Blindside

Welcome to Longbox Junk! It's the blog with more comic reviews you never asked for than you could ever ask for! No need to thank me. . .it's just what I DO!

I've mentioned it before, but I have sort of a soft spot in my comic-lovin' heart for early Image comics.  These days, Image has carved out a great spot for themselves as the company you go to when you get tired of superhero stories, but in their early days they were ALL superhero ALL the time.  And it was in the most obviously desperate "We wanna be the new Marvel!" way possible.

To accomplish their goal, Image flooded the market with a LOT of new superhero comics.  There was a point in time in the 90's that they were pretty much throwing anything they could at the wall to see what would stick.  That point in time was around 1996. . .which brings us to the comic at hand!

Blindside was one of the comics that did NOT stick.  It's one of several projects from Image that didn't last more than one issue, even though there were more planned and advertised.  So let's take a look at this unloved and abandoned relic of the 90's and see if there's something here to like, shall we?  WE SHALL!

Image Comics (1996)

I Spy With My Little Eye

SCRIPT: Marat Mychaels & Robert Loren Fleming
PENCILS: Marat Mychaels & Leo Jimenez, with Chuck Drost
INKS: Al Vey & Sean Parsons
COVER:  Marat Mychaels & Al Vey


Not bad, in that special 90's-Tastic way.  I'm always a bit of a sucker for monochromatic backgrounds on a comic cover, and the stark white of this one sets of the character portrait very nicely.  I like the bold colors a lot as well.  The logo looks like it was created with the '96 version of Windows Paint, though.  Not good.

Blindside himself is SO 90's that the 90's are like "Can you tone it down a bit?"  Between the gritted teeth, bulging muscles, the McFarlane-Lite twisted pose and tangled rope, and the "It's a mask. . .but with HAIR!", this cover IS the 90's.  Still, not too bad.  Let's get inside!


We begin our tale alongside Richard Kemp. . .a highly-trained top agent of the ultra-secret "Orion Sector" intelligence agency.  He's observing a meeting between Criminal Mastermind Ronald Quinn and a scientist who has developed some sort of device built into a helmet.  

Quinn demands that the device be immediately tested on one of his henchmen, despite the Professor's insisting that it isn't ready. . .

As the device seemingly malfunctions, killing Quinn's henchman, Richard is discovered in his hiding place. . .

Using the man who found him as a human shield, Richard jumps down from his perch and leaps into action, easily dispatching Quinn's thugs. . .but as he fights, Quinn himself takes the agent by surprise from behind, knocking him out!

When Richard regains consciousness, he finds himself Quinn's prisoner!  He witnesses Quinn kill the Professor for delivering a faulty device.  Then Quinn puts the helmet on Richard and turns it on. . .promising the captive agent an agonizing death!

But Richard doesn't die!  Instead, he wakes up handcuffed to a hospital bed and surrounded by Orion Sector agents, including his Uncle Bud. . .who had taken Richard in after his father's death and been his Orion Sector mentor for many years.

 After reporting what happened during the stakeout, Richard is shocked to learn that Quinn has an alibi, there was no helmet found, and no other dead bodies. . .just the Professor, killed with Richard's gun and no other prints to be found.

He's been set up!

After the Orion Sector agents leave, Richard ponders his situation.  He knows too much to stand trial.  He'll just. . .disappear.  He's devoted his life to Orion Sector, as did his father before him.  Richard sees himself as a patriot and doesn't want to go down without a fight.

As he agonizes about how to clear himself of the false murder charge, Richard suddenly has some sort of painful mental attack.  As the pain fades, Richard realizes that he can see through the walls!  There are three men with guns outside his room, and they're coming in after him!

As the armed men burst into the room, Richard is ready for them!  During the fight, he learns that they are Orion Sector agents, sent to terminate him!  

Not believing that his Uncle Bud could ever stand by something like this, Richard makes his escape by smashing through the hospital window, declaring that he would take Orion Sector down as he falls, still firing at the men who attacked him. . .

But somehow, the fall doesn't kill him!  Richard is amazed to find himself unharmed. . .but there's more Orion Sector men below, and he's still under fire.  Richard makes a desperate escape through the hospital parking lot, finally managing to steal a motorcycle. . .

Knowing that he didn't have a chance of eluding his highly-trained pursuers, Richard decides to make use of his own training and attack instead of running, managing to destroy a truck full of Orion Sector agents with a single shot, using his new powers to guide the bullet to his target!

But there's more agents where they came from!  Richard goes into a kind of combat frenzy, attacking the remaining pursuing agents and stealing their car. . .

After wrecking the car, Richard manages to escape on foot.  He makes a gritty promise to destroy Orion Sector and anyone behind his betrayal. And from the looks of it, he means it!

To be continued. . .wait. . .never mind.  There was never a second issue.  The End, I guess?


Okay then. . .there it is. The one and only issue of Blindside.  Let's break it on down!

I really hate to say this, but there's not much to like here.  I can see why the plug got pulled on Blindside so quickly.  There's some decent art here and there, but overall, this comic is so utterly average that I had to read it three times in order to write this review because I kept forgetting the details of the story.  And when you've got such a simple story as the one here, that ain't a good thing.

The framework of the story itself is pretty solid. . .secret agent on the run after being framed for murder and discovering that he's somehow gained some unusual powers.  The powers add a little curve on a well-worn action hero story path, but not enough of a curve to make me want to read more.

The dialogue is pretty stilted and full of exposition.  You can really tell that the writer is actually more of an artist when you read this.  It's definitely a bit of a slog reading this comic. . .and like I mentioned above, it's so utterly average that you forget it almost as soon as you're done reading.

On the art side of things, 90's nostalgia pins this one JUST on the good side of bad.  There are actually some really interesting moments to be found (The stark white background page of Blindside attacking multiple gunmen I scanned above is definitely a standout), but there's just not enough of them to elevate this comic much.


Every comic is a labor of love for someone.  The letters page in Blindside tells me that Marat Mychaels created this character when he was 14 years old and had been waiting years for a chance to bring his idea to the comic world.  Unfortunately, the actual execution of Blindside when he finally got that chance didn't do Mychaels' enthusiasm for the character any justice.

From what I see, he took the character elsewhere, where it didn't fare much better. . .2 issues of an aborted mini-series and a couple of guest appearances.  I give Mychaels credit for trying, but I guess sometimes things just don't work out.

In my humble opinion, Mychaels isn't much of a writer. Blindside might have worked if he had recognized this and let someone else write his character. . .but the early days of Image are littered with failed projects where one guy tried to wear all the hats.  This is a fine example of exactly that.

Unfortunately, I can't really recommend Blindside, except as a curiosity. . .an abandoned relic of the 90's that may interest someone just for that.  The writing is somehow overblown and forgettable at the same time.  The art has moments, but not enough of them.  There's really not much to like here.

Up Next. . .

It's the origin story of one of DC's most unusual superheroes and his team. . .


Guest Starring Superman because he must have lost some sort of bet.

Be there or be square!

Thursday, February 10, 2022

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT - ComicBooks for Kids Day!

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap and the reviews are free!

I'd like to borrow a moment of your time, if you don't mind.  A fantastic opportunity has come to my attention that I'd like to shine the Longbox Junk spotlight on. . .the FIRST Annual ComicBooks For Kids Day!  

Look. . .I KNOW that if you're a Longbox Junker like me, you've got PLENTY of comics in your collection that are "worth" practically nothing.  You read them and then they sit in a box wrapped in plastic. You can't really sell them.  They're basically just taking up space. They're LONGBOX JUNK!  

Well, here's your chance to put those comics to good use while at the same time, trimming down your collection! I know it's hard. You've had those comics for years. But if I can do it, so can you!

Let's turn this event into an annual comic collection Spring Cleaning of a sort. . .while also doing something good for kids who need a little fun in their lives.  Can we do this? LET'S DO THIS!

Read on!




We can finally announce this after months of planning!
The first annual ComicBooks For Kids! day is coming on 2/22/22!
What is ComicBooks For Kids! day?
Occurring a week after Valentine's day, we will keep the love going with focus on both this incredible industry and the kiddos in hospitals and cancer centers. We are asking everyone who has a voice, who is in the industry, who does auctions, reaches out to others, manages a subreddit, runs a comic book shop and more to shout this out and do something special on that day for the kiddos!
Look for auctions from your favorite sites! Look for events from your participating local comic shop or ask them to participate. Look for our annual awards to be given out. Bring a few comic books in for donation. Even more, look for a very big announcement that will bring us to even greater heights!
With less then a month in front of us, look for more exciting news as this gets closer. But for now, let's get everyone who loves comic books involved on behalf of the kids! This is our first annual event and let's kick this one off with great success! Share this, repost and let's make this a fun event supporting the kiddos!

For MY part, I'm donating a couple of boxes of comics to the kids in the local family homeless shelter. I normally do this around Thanksgiving, but I've decided to take this opportunity to do some Spring Cleaning on my comic collection, and will continue to do so every year from now on as long as this event is going.  

So join me in this worthy cause, if you will, and remember. . .comics are "worth" more than money!   

Longbox Junk - Black Condor #1

Welcome to Longbox Junk!  It's the blog packed FULL of comic book reviews nobody asked me to write!

Digging through bargain bins as much as I do, sometimes I can't help but be a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of unloved and unwanted comic books out there.  It seems that if a comic doesn't have "value" to collectors. . .the possibility of being "worth" some money, then the comic doesn't have any value at all!

Sometimes I wonder why THIS comic ends up in the bargain bin and THAT comic doesn't.  I've reviewed comics with high collector "value" that are pretty underwhelming.  On the other hand, I've reviewed comics "worth" cover price (if that) that have been really enjoyable.  

Which brings us to the comic at hand.  It's the first issue of a short-lived series that seems to have been mostly-forgotten.  It introduces a new character to the DC roster, has an excellent creative team behind it, and was put on the stands by one of the biggest comic publishers in the world.  So why can a diligent Longbox Junker find every issue of this series by digging through bargain bins?

Let's take a look and see if we can find out, shall we?  We shall!

DC (1992)


SCRIPT: Brian Augustyn
PENCILS: Rags Morales
INKS: Rags Morales
COVER: Rags Morales


Okay, not a bad cover at all.  I like it!  It's basically just a nicely-done character portrait, but I like the design of Black Condor, the heavy inks, and the logo is just really great.  The "First Issue" badge is a little intrusive, but that doesn't keep this from being a very solid and eye-catching cover that makes me want to read this comic.  Let's get inside!


We begin our tale with a short one page prologue.  We are introduced to a young man named Ryan, who seems to be the willing participant in an experiment taking place at the direction of Ryan's Grandfather.  The experiment is being done by a mysterious "Society" and has been in preparation for years.  The purpose of the experiment is to make Ryan fly. . .

We move forward a bit and see that the experiment was successful. Ryan is flying over the lush forest of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  He reflects on the great gift he has been given, but we learn that at some point, Ryan became disillusioned with his Grandfather's secret society and he abandoned them.  Further, he plans to destroy them. . .

After being introduced to our hero, we shift focus to a gang of outlaws on the run.  They've just pulled off a payroll robbery and have eluded the police, but they don't get along, and as they argue with each other they wreck their van while speeding through the Pine Barrens. . .

A Park Ranger spots the wreck and offers assistance, only to be taken hostage by the gang as they hijack his truck to continue their getaway. . .


Ryan (AKA Black Condor) senses trouble below, and using the heightened senses that were part of the "gift" of his Grandfather's experiment, he comes to the rescue of two lost hikers. . .

But when he goes to the Ranger station to report his rescue of the hikers, he discovers that his best friend, Ned (the head Ranger), has gone missing. Condor immediately senses something is wrong. . .


The escaped criminals find themselves stranded in the thick forest of the Barrens when the truck they hijacked runs out of gas.  The stress of constant setbacks breaks the gang down to the point where some of them just want to take their cut and make their own way.  Enraged, the gang's leader guns one of them down in cold blood!

In the skies above the Barrens, Black Condor is searching for his missing friend.  He reflects that it was Ned who showed him that he didn't have to live up to the destiny that his Grandfather had wanted him to, and that he owed his life as a free man to the kind Ranger.  Suddenly, he hears gunshots!

Below, the cold-blooded killing of one of the gang members throws the rest into panic.  The leader orders one of the others to kill their hostages so they can head through the forest on foot.  When he refuses, the leader guns him down as well. 

Black Condor arrives on the scene in time to witness the second killing.  Condor uses his mental powers to control the mind of the gang leader, keeping him from shooting again. . .

A short fight later, and it's over.  Condor saves the hostages and it's not long before the police arrive on the scene and arrest the remaining gang members. . .

Ned expresses his gratitude to Condor for saving him, as well as his astonishment at Condor's increasing powers.  Condor admits that there's still a lot he doesn't understand about the powers his Grandfather's experiment gave him.  Condor clears out before the reporters arrive and all's well that ends well.


In a short epilogue the following day, reports of fugitives captured by a flying man reach Ryan's Grandfather.  He immediately sets into motion some sort of plan that surely can't be good!

The End. . .To be continued. 


All righty, then.  There you have it.  Black Condor issue #1.  Let's break it on down!

When I read the first issue of a series, I look for TWO things:  Does it introduce characters and their situation in a new reader-friendly way?  Does it tell a story that I want to read more of?  

Is that really too much to ask for?  I think it's actually a pretty low bar, but for some reason, it seems that a lot of first issues somehow manage to fail at one or both of those two little things.

Fortunately, Black Condor #1 hits both of the marks very nicely.  We're introduced to Black Condor, his supporting cast, his situation, and his antagonists in a well-written and engaging way that gives JUST enough information to let us know that there's still more to come. . .which makes me want to get right into the next issue!

The story itself is extremely simple.  Basically, Black Condor rescues his friend from a gang of criminals that have taken him hostage.  But the simplicity of the story is one of its strengths.  Within the admittedly bare bones narrative there's plenty of room to make that new reader-friendly introduction I find important in a first issue.  Brian Augustyn does a great job in writing what is pretty much a fast-paced one shot story introducing his new character in a way that I want to read more.

On the art side of things, Rags Morales' unique style is what really makes this issue shine!  It's exaggerated, but detailed, with dark inks, great colors, and a lot of attention to facial expression.  I'm more familiar with Morales' more recent work (such as Identity Crisis), but I've discovered here that I enjoy his earlier style much more.  

Overall, this is all I could want from a good first issue of a comic series!  Very nicely done.


In my introduction to this review, I wondered why this series and this character are all but forgotten.  To be fair, Black Condor DID outlive these 12 issues in guest appearances (Mostly in The Ray and Starman) and as a member of mostly-forgotten superhero team Primal Force, as well as a few other appearances here and there until his death in DC's Final Crisis event (Later to be briefly resurrected as a Black Lantern).  But despite these appearances, there just didn't seem to be much interest in Black Condor.

This first issue is a well-written introduction with some great art.  The rest of the issues of this series managed to keep the same creative team on board, so the writing and art are consistent and very solid through the whole run, yet Black Condor could only carry 12 solo issues before being relegated to a supporting character role in other titles. 

Maybe some characters just do better as supporting cast? I've seen other characters that seem to have this same "problem".  Black Canary is one that jumps immediately to mind.  She's a great supporting character that has problems carrying a solo series.  

That's really the only good reason I can think of to explain the relative obscurity of Black Condor. Maybe he just got caught up in the overwhelming glut of 90's comics? That was probably part of it as well. Whatever the reason might be, I found Black Condor to be an interesting character that deserved a bit more attention than what he got.

Overall, I can definitely recommend Black Condor to anyone looking for a good, solid superhero story with some interesting angles (he's not really interested in being a superhero) and some great art to back it up.  This first issue is a good introduction, but the whole series is worth a look.

Black Condor has never been collected (and I don't see it on ComiXology) so if you want to check it out, you'll need to hunt down the individual issues.  Fortunately, they seem to be pretty easy to find in back issue/bargain bins. . .which is where I've found 11 of the 12 issues.  Give Black Condor a try if you should spot one while out Longbox Junkin'!

Up Next. . .

Let's take a look at one of the most obscure characters to come out of Rob Liefeld's Extreme Studios during Image's "We Wanna Be Marvel!" superhero days.  I'm talking about BLINDSIDE!

Be there or be square.