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Issue 44: The Saga of Crystar

Jessika: You know what I heard? I, um, heard that Crystar shard his pants.

Mike: Hello. Welcome to Ten Cent Takes, the podcast where we uncover cubic sarconias in the rough. One issue at a time. My name is Mike Thompson, and as always, I am joined by my co host, the Molten Madam herself, Jessika Frazier.

Jessika: Oh, goodness. I'm pretty fiery. This is truth.

Mike: How are you doing?

Jessika: Not as fiery as normal. No, I'm extra fiery. What am I talking about? Trying to lead us in. Trying to lead us in. Wrong.

Mike: I mean, when are you not fiery? When are you not spicy?

Jessika: Oh, uh, you know what? Valid point. Valid point.

Mike: The purpose of this podcast is to study comic books in ways that are both fun and informative. We always like to look at their coolest, weirdest, and silliest moments, as well as examine how they are woven into the larger fabric of pop culture and history. If you are enjoying the show so far and you want to help us grow, it's always a huge help if you can rate or review us on Apple podcasts because that helps with Discoverability today we are talking about the saga of Crystar Crystal Warrior, which is Marvel's 1980s fantasy comic that's largely been forgotten but also had some surprising pop culture ripple effects. But before we start focusing on that, Jessika, what is one cool thing that you have read or watch lately?

Jessika: So I just started reading this comic that I actually found one issue of, but then I also found a volume of, and it's called The Fish Police.

Mike: Oh, I have heard of this. I've never read it.

Jessika: It's Steve Monkey's. I don't know why I've got all this cop shit right now. I don't know what my deal is. Good Lord. Maybe that's just what's out. So it's by Steve Monkeys. It's IDW.

Mike: Yeah. That was originally, like, a series from the 1980s, right?

Jessika: Very well, maybe it just says in here that it's 2011.

Mike: Yeah, I think they've continued it and reprinted some issues, but I'm not certain.

Jessika: Okay, well, maybe we'll have to do a deeper dive into this one because it's kind of wild, and it starts off with the main character is like going to walk up a staircase. Mind you, they're fish and they're underwater. And this thing is like, tell me why it was a good idea to put stairs for a fish. Like, talking about the writers, and I was like, oh, my God, this is so meta. So it starts off strong in that way.

Mike: I'm extremely here for it.

Jessika: Yeah, it's like, who decided that? Uh oh, my Lord. It's interesting. It's black and white, and the drawing is somewhat basic, but all of the characters are pretty recognizable. And it's a gray scale, so there is shadowing. And the fish are wearing clothes. Of course they are. Uh, yeah, it's a wild time so far. I'm really not that far into it, but we may need to delve more into this.

Mike: I would love to delve into play Wild Ride. It's one of those things that I keep on seeing come up online. I see people talk about it every now and then. I'm like, I really want to look into that more. So I think this could be a lot of fun. You already have a copy of volunteer US. Tribute to COVID this.

Jessika: Yeah, no, that's not a problem. I'll just leave it out.

Mike: Love it.

Jessika: Well, what about you? What are you reading? Watching, listening to?

Mike: Uh, well, so for our last main episode, we interviewed Dan Chychester about his time working on the hell Razor comics, and he mentioned how he was really proud about his hell Razor versus night Breed jihad crossover two issue series. And I found out that it is on Hoopla, and it is part of the entire 400 plus page collection of the night Breed comics that were reprinted by Boom a while ago. So I am, um, working my way through the Night Breed omnibus or whatever it is. And the main series, actually, it's basically an adaptation. The main series was originally adapting the movie that Clive Barker wrote, and it turns out that it's very different from the movie because it's based much more closely on his original script. So it's kind of cool. And then what I actually really like is as we were reading through all the hell raiser stuff, there is that whole thing about hell is basically the forces of order. And in the jihad comic, it is the forces of order from the cenobites versus the Night Breed who are the forces of chaos. And Dan actually described them as good chaos. And I'm, uh, only a little ways into it right now, but I think it's really kind of first of all, it's fun because it's two very fun movie properties crossing over with each other in a way that works pretty well. But I also like the stance that order doesn't always have to be good. That's usually the way that things are represented when they do that. Order in chaos. And comics like Dr. Fate is a lord of order, and the forces of chaos are always villains, et cetera, et cetera. But I mean, remember how in volume four of the sandman season of the Mist, how there were all those different forces buying for control of hell and trying to get morpheus to give it to them for whatever price they were willing to pay?

Jessika: Ah.

Mike: And I loved how order was just a little cardboard box, and then chaos was chaos. Chaos was this, like, little girl with a balloon who would morph between being this sweet little innocent thing and a terrifying monster. But I like it when people are like, no, order doesn't have to be good. Order doesn't mean good. Order can mean boring. It can mean very disciplinarian evil. You know, there's a reason that in DND we have lawful and then good and then lawful and evil. So, anyway, thanks to Dan for pointing out that this is a fun comic to read. And yeah, check it out on hoopla if that sounds like something you're into.

Jessika: Yeah, check out our last episode. That was so fun.

Mike: Yeah. Basically our best interview friend of the podcast, Dan Chychester.

Jessika: Yes. Welcome back any time.

Mike: Yeah. All right. Shall we move on to the main topic of our episode?

Jessika: Uh, let's crush into it.

Mike: Okay. We are going to be talking about the 1983 Maxi series, the saga of Crystal, crystal warrior. Now, I know that you were aware of the saga of Crystar before this issue because you had specifically grabbed me a couple of books when you found them in dollar bins. But had you ever heard of this before that?

Jessika: No. Only because you were like, here are the things I'm looking for.

Mike: Mhm. Okay.

Jessika: And I said, Mike is looking for that thing. I should probably find some of those for me, too.

Mike: Yes.

Jessika: So I found some for me, too.

Mike: So let's talk about the history of Cristar before we actually get to the comic itself. Crystar came into existence in the early 1980s. The comic itself was published in spring of 83, and it was promoting a toy line with the same name that launched in late 1982. Which, of course yeah, and, I mean, we've talked about this in the past, especially on our first episode, which was all about, uh, Saturday morning cartoons and how comic books played a role in shaping the narratives of those shows in the 80s. But Marvel was in the midst of this critical and commercial renaissance under the guidance of Jim Shooter as its editor in chief. And part of that was due to a number of lucrative partnerships that the company had made with Hasbro and had helped them shape the lore of the IPS for things like Transformers and GI. Joe. And on top of that, Christar came out at the same time as US. One, which is this, like, gleefully manic series tied to a line of big rig truck toys, which we also covered about a year ago in episode twelve.

Jessika: Also a very fun episode.

Mike: Very fun episode. I really like us. One. It's one of those series that has no reason to be as much fun as it is, but somehow it is. Now, Crystar is actually kind of unique in this era of license adaptations, and that's because the entire IP was actually created and owned by Marvel comics. So it turns out that they had created a whole property specifically to sell the license to a toy company. And this was actually discussed at length in the first issue of Marvel age, which the COVID story is all about. Crystal and Marvel age was this comic size promo magazine that Marvel was putting out to give readers, ah, a kind of behind the scenes look at upcoming books creator interviews and also kind of gossip style news. And then there was also a section of general letters. So it was kind of like a full length editorial bullpen section that you'd find in the back of comics then. But anyway, so there's this three page feature about Crystar, and it includes this really lengthy interview with writer Mary Joe Duffy, and she talks about how the book came about because Mark Gruenvold, Ralph Machio, and John Romito Jr. Came up with the concept because the sales department felt Marvel needed to do some kind of fantasy book other than traditional sword and sorcery stuff like Kona and the Barbarian that it had been doing up until then. So these three creators came up with the concept, and then they kicked it over to Duffy and artist Brett Blevins to fully flesh out. And the feature includes concept to art. It includes character models and early comic art. But then it also has this really interesting little tidbit.

Jessika: The first issue of Crystar will have a format similar to Epic Comics, printed on the high quality Baxter paper with hand color separations. It will be 48 pages long, with 45 of those pages devoted to the story. Thereafter, Crystar will be a regular bi monthly comic printed on news print. Moreover, the Remco Toy company is developing a line of toys for next year based on the Cristar characters and will use the first issue of Cristar as a promotional tool for them. Okay, yeah.

Mike: So Marvel Age One came out in April of 1983, and that was, like, a month before the Saga Cristar main issue. So I'm guessing that this feature was written in late 82, and there was, like, a long lead time for the publication, which that's typically how printed media works. And all of this means that even though the comic came out after the toy line, which led people to assume that the comic was a licensed adaptation of the toys, this was entirely Marvel's baby. And if you're unfamiliar with this era, you might be surprised to hear who the baby's father was. It was Ronald Reagan, the Gipper himself, because under Reagan, the FCC had loosened up guidelines for children's programming and made it totally okay to turn cartoons into half hour toy commercials. And if you want to learn more about that again, go back to our first episode, where we talk about stuff.

Jessika: Mhm.

Mike: So as a result, the 80s were this, like, colossal free for all where companies were scrambling to sell as much crap to kids as possible. And likewise, Amazing Heroes 23 ran a cover story on Crystar a month after the comic launched and basically ran a five page puff piece that recapped Duffy's interview from Marvel Age. And it also featured more character and concept art creator BIOS and a general summary of the series. So Marvel was really pulling out all the stops to generate awareness of Crystar. Like all things considered for the time. It's kind of wild. They were really doubling down on this untested IP. They thought it was going to be big. As we mentioned a few minutes ago, marvel partnered with Remco to make the figures for Cristar. And Remco itself was a toy company that really hit it big in the 1960s with a bunch of licensed products. But they were sort of known for making toys that actually had nothing to do with the properties they were branded on.

Jessika: That's fun. Uh, that's an interesting choice.

Mike: Apparently, one of the most infamous of these toys was a Star Trek helmet that I'm actually not going to describe it. I'm just going to have you look at this link, which has a picture.

Jessika: Goodness. Let's see what oh, goodness. Okay, I'm going to explain this. Oh, my God. It has a chin strap. Okay, so first of all, it says official Star Trek helmet. Space Fun Helmet. It says Space Fun Helmet. It has the official Star Trek seal on it. I'm saying highly important. However, let me just tell you what this shit looks like.

Mike: Star Trek a brand that is famous for its characters and helmets.

Jessika: Yeah, absolutely. Especially when they look like hard hats. So this thing looks like a hard hat that has a literal police light stuck to the top of it, like a singular go go, gadget. Police light pops out of his head. That is what it looks like. And then it's got an antenna on the back and a visor that comes down. But wait, there's more, because it actually has a chin strap. What is going on here?

Mike: All I'm saying is I need to own this now.

Jessika: Fucking Dazed. Oh, my God. We need to find you this. It will not fit you. It might fit me. I have the head size, um, of child. If it does, we will post a picture of me in this thing when we find one.

Mike: Amazing. Oh. Uh man yeah. So as you can see, Remco is not exactly known for quality merchandise.

Jessika: Good Lord.

Mike: Would it surprise you to hear that after the 1960s, Remco was kind of struggling?

Jessika: Well, I wonder why.

Mike: Yeah. So they had declared bankruptcy in 1971, and then they were acquired by another company in 1974. And by the early 80s, they were chasing trends. They were just trying to, like, put out anything that was kind of like, you know, a knock off that some parent might be like, whatever that looks like heman. Sure, why not? So they had, like, a GI. Joe Knockoff series of action figures based on DC Comics. Sergeant Rock. And then they imitated He Man in the Masters of the Universe with a line of action figures that was based off of DC comic series Warlord, which also I really want because Warlord is fucking rad, and we're going to have to talk about them at some point.

Jessika: You're on.

Mike: And then there was also a similar group of Heeman esque action figures based on the Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan the Barbarian movie. So Marvel coming to them to have an original line of action figures that had the potential to blow up and become the next GI. Joe or the next Heman probably seemed like a huge opportunity for them.

Jessika: Oh, uh, I'm sure.

Mike: So I found, I think, the only commercial that they ever cut for crystal toys. Are you ready for this?

Jessika: Fuck. I'm not sure, but maybe.

Mike: A fantasy world of crystal warriors, demons, and wizards. Good wizards like Ogote, evil wizards like Zarda, and underworld demons like Moltar.

Jessika: You capture Ogioni.

Mike: Each figure with a crystal prism that makes everything look like this. Our collection. Each figure is sold separately.

Jessika: Oh, my gosh. Uh, they come with accessories, you guys. Oh, Lord.

Mike: Yeah. What was your reaction to that ad?

Jessika: Oh, my gosh. It was very catchy. M. Um, I did like okay, so there was this part where somebody like it was so obvious, too. It shows the action figure underneath this very artificial looking, like, rock shelf, and then just a hand sweeps a bunch of rocks over it and zooms in on them really fast.

Mike: The other thing is that during this era, uh, they were putting out commercials that had, like, fully built sets for the toys. So it was like it was very stylized.

Jessika: It was very stylized, yes.

Mike: This was not that that's the thing. It's like two kids playing in the backyard of some, I don't know, Hollywood agents house, because up on the hill, you can see it.

Jessika: I was wondering I was like, Wait, this was stylized.

Mike: Where it's like showing them sliding down the zipline and all that, and you see the kid holding it, you're like, okay, fine. But, uh, this is one of those ads where I'm like, was this, like, the test ad or something? Because it feels very unpolished in a lot of ways. But at the same time, they had fully finished animation. Marvel had an animation division that at the time was working with working with Hasbro and, like, GI. Joe. Mhm, we talked about this, and again, that first episode where Marvel actually cut fully animated ads for the GI. Joe comic book. And that was how they got around the rules from the FCC, where it was basically they could sit there and say, oh, we're advertising the comic book. But also there are these action figures.

Jessika: Right.

Mike: Anyway, yeah, it's kind of wild. And also that prism bonus thing that comes with the action figure that basically it's like a kaleidoscope. Yeah, it's like a kaleidoscope lens that just lets you kind of, like, view things through a prism fracture. I mean, talk about, like, this was very clearly a low budget affair, both in terms of the toys and and the commercial itself.

Jessika: But yeah, you know, I guess credit for rolling with the theme. You know, it's like they're like gems. We can do gems like yes, absolutely.

Mike: There's rock demons. We're going to have them in front of a 1970s rock wall.

Jessika: They all have weapons that like, I don't know, they don't really use all of those weapons that they had laying out. I mean, that's fine.

Mike: Hearing someone speak the name Ogote out loud. I can feel my soul lead in the body.

Jessika: That's not how my brain set up.

Mike: No. Uh I was just like, oh, geode. Okay.

Jessika: That's what I said too. Oh, good. Because I was like, first of all, god, these names. We were going to get to it.

Mike: Yeah. So, yeah, let's talk about the comic. Okay. Chris Star ran for eleven issues total, but the final issue is double sized, so it's basically a twelve issue Maxi series. The story was written by Mary Joe Duffy, who may sound familiar. She had been on a number of successful runs at Marvel, including star wars, conan the barbarian, powerman and iron Fist. And she wrote France's Brother of the Universe, which we discussed in episode seven where we looked at Marvel's early Christian comics. And the first few episodes were penciled by Brett Blevins, with Ron friends taking over for one issue before Ricardo Villamante handled the rest of the series. Vince Coletta inked the first issue while Danny Boulinati did the next one. And then Dan Simons took over after that. Bob Larkin did the first issues cover, which honestly looks like a poster for this like, epic fantasy movie. It's absolutely gorgeous. And then Dave Simons did issue two and then Michael Golden handled the COVID art afterwards. And that's another name that might sound familiar because he handled a lot of the covers for us, one. And M mhm, he has this really cool painterly style that just wasn't too common back then. Andy Yankees handled colors throughout the series while Michael Higgins and Rick Parker lettered the first couple of issues before Janice Chiang took over for the rest of the series. So it sounds like they assigned some big names to the first issue just to, uh, kind of make a big splashy impression and then found a team that worked well together for the remainder of the series after kind of having some folks fill in on the second issue. So yeah, now that we have that background out of the way, can you give a quick summary for the series? Because if we try to give a detailed one, we would be here all night.

Jessika: Fuck yeah. I'm going to boil this shit down. So there is a Crystal Land, and in this Crystal Land, there are two twin brothers who are princes and their parents are both dead. Sad orphan story.

Mike: What are their names?

Jessika: We have Cristar and moltar. Here's the thing. Like the land is name, like something that is like something crystalline, I believe. Exactly. So it's like you clearly favor one of these children, the light haired child, more than the other one since you basically named it after the city mhm. Like the other kid. You're like, I don't care. Name him Moltar or something. What did you just spit? Like, did you hawk a luggie? And they wrote it down Maltar. Oh, excuse you.

Mike: I mean, you're not rough.

Jessika: It's rough. I'm like, well, the dude didn't stand a chance, right?

Mike: No. And that's the whole thing in the Mary Joe Duffy interview from Marvel Age, which is like, it's these two brothers who clearly love each other, but Crystar is like the fair haired golden child who's great at everything. And then Moltar is trying to figure out who he can be because he's not as good as his brother.

Jessika: Right? But the thing with that, that's fine. That's sad. It's sad to feel overshadowed by a sibling.

Mike: But like, speaking as the least favorite child of a family, relatable same.

Jessika: It's fine. Neither of our parents listen to this, right?

Mike: No, why would they?

Jessika: So silly.

Mike: It would be really awkward because my folks are in town right now.

Jessika: My parents forget I have a podcast. And my mom literally they weren't home. And so I ended up doing a live stream podcast out of their house and they sent a neighbor over while I was podcasting. So it's like dingdong fucking doorbell rings and like, what is going on? I look at my phone, which obviously was on silent because I was live streaming. And my mom's like, I sent the neighbor over to get a COVID test. I was like, no you fucking didn't. Like, what the fuck? Uh, excuse you. This is where it is. Oh, yeah, let me go root through your bathroom. Get a fucking COVID test for your neighbor who's outside the door for some reason. I told you that I live stream the same time every week.

Mike: Least favorite children. It's great.

Jessika: So anyhow freaking Chris are one upping him all the time. Like the first scene is literally them, like wrestling. And Crystar is winning again and so far has got the pretty bitch. And I say bitch because this lady is rude. She is a me.

Mike: She is a person.

Jessika: She is rude.

Mike: She is a bad person. Like, you call her a bitch? I'm like, I'm not going to disagree.

Jessika: I normally wouldn't. Just outright. She is a bad person. Just generally. So they get a freaking delivery from Chaos in the form of ZAR death. And he's Mr. Chaos himself. And so he comes out swinging and they try to fight him, but then Moldar is like, I don't know, this guy doesn't seem that bad. And he jumps ship immediately. Immediately.

Mike: Well, my favorite is they talk about how there's this epic war between chaos and order or something. And they're like, oh, like claimed our parents lives, blah, blah, blah. And then it's revealed, oh, you're part of the destined second war between. And you're like, wait, what? You were talking about it was 100 years ago, and then okay, whatever.

Jessika: Exactly. Yeah, it's awful. There's a whole issue is a flashback, and it's like, first, this is too much. Secondarily, why are you having to fill in all of this narrative? Yeah, so basically the bad guys get turned into magma. The good guys get turned into Crystal because glass or crystal is like, I don't know, the epitome of order. I don't think that apparently these yeah.

Mike: And the other thing is that Zarda's counterpart, OGOD, who is this? He's basically Merlin, but for Order shows up. And, uh, crystal got, like, mortally wounded, right? Like multi or something by accident. And so that OG transformed him into this crystal being, and then all of his men at arms basically joined up afterwards.

Jessika: Then that motherfucker is like, oh, and I don't know how to change you back, by the way.

Mike: Yeah, okay.

Jessika: He's like, I can definitely make you into crystal, but there's absolutely no way you're ever becoming a regular human again.

Mike: For a character that is designed to be kind of the Merlin esque figure, he is a real petty bitch. Like, when he punishes Moltar for stabbing Crystar by creating a crystal rain that goes through buildings and doesn't harm anyone but Moltar and those loyal to them. And so Moltar runs off and chases down Zardath and agrees to be his champion. And then basically Zardath brings them under the Earth where they're safe from the lethal crystal rain, and then basically transforms all of these people, including Crystar's original girlfriend, into lava people because she jumps ship immediately.

Jessika: She's like, oh, I always liked you anyway. I don't know why she decided to jump ship. Literally, there's no motivation given.

Mike: I think it was basically because she saw where things were heading because Moltar stabbed Crystar and then was like, I'm the king now. Because originally they were going to rule together. They had, like, twin thrones, and he.

Jessika: Was just, like, wanting all of the power to himself. I mean, that was really the long and the short of it, too.

Mike: Yeah. Anyway, uh, I hate that, but yeah. So this entire issue feels like it's an animated series pilot. It's very clear, like, establishing who the characters are and their motivations, it doesn't quite work. But whatever, animated series at this point in time, we're not exactly known for their depth either.

Jessika: Right?

Mike: Yeah. And then the rest of the series, it just kind of meanders along.

Jessika: It really fucking does. Yeah. It's like a bunch of order and chaos bullshit of them going to fight order and chaos and magic shenanigans. And more people are turning into crystal, and more people are turning into molten. And then their uncle, he makes himself the region. He's like, you guys can't decide. So I'm the region now. And he turns himself into half glass and half molten. Which how fuck does that work?

Mike: I don't know. It's not exactly explained. He doesn't want to choose favorites, do.

Jessika: He fucking does the whole time.

Mike: I know.

Jessika: He's trying to be like, well, I'm not trying to choose favorites. And sometimes you just got to forgive your brother for, like, stabbing you and, like, trying to, like, take over the throne. He was so fucking delusional. I was like, what are you talking about? Like, you're not being neutral at all by having the stance you have right now, you're being so not neutral at all. This is so weird.

Mike: Uh, I found myself getting really mad at Uncle Feldspart because I did too. It, uh, reminded me a lot of my dynamics with my family, where certain family members are like, you should really start talking to your brother again. I'm like, I really don't want to. Please stay out of it.

Jessika: Right, exactly. Oh, my God. Yeah. And so through the series, he starts getting into him. He's feeling himself on that throne, and he starts losing himself to that thing. I mean, it was pretty fucking quick. He was very quick to make himself regent. He was very quick to be like, yeah, you boys shouldn't live here anymore. You should both be banished just so that there's no infighting in the streets. I'm in charge of this army. Like, somebody literally had to correct him at one point and be like, you're just the regent, though. He's like, this will be about my rule, or something like that. And it's like, well, you're the region, though. Remember that?

Mike: Yeah, it's the thing.

Jessika: Ah, it was, like, fucking wild. And there were women of no consequence, so that's fun.

Mike: Yeah, several.

Jessika: Yeah, several women have no consequence.

Mike: Um, yeah, there's Lavor, who is Malta's girlfriend, and she's just kind of like a walking kind of evil temptress trope.

Jessika: She's a mean girl.

Mike: Yeah. And then there's Crystar's girlfriend, Ambara, who was like a serving girl at the palace. And Crystar's man at arms, Warbo, was really into her and his dude. Warbo needed to learn to take no for an answer because that guy was pining after her forever and was really hitting on her creepily. Anyway.

Jessika: Yeah, it was this unrequited business.

Mike: Yeah. And it's funny because Crystar and Ambara, it's that very chaste, kid friendly love story of this era where it's like, oh, we have these deep feelings for each other, and you're like, Why? There's no chemistry between you?

Jessika: And then they have these little moments where they are very clearly like, we're off to Bang mhm.

Mike: But the other interesting thing about this series is that, like I said, Marvel was really betting on it. And so they were doing crossovers with characters from the Six One Six universe. So the first one we get is OGOD accidentally transports Crystar and Ambara to Dr. Strange's sanctum Sanctorum, and then Multar's forces, the molten men are sent there as well to wreak a little havoc. And I actually really like that episode because it's fun and it's weird and. There's a whole bit where Crystar is, like, utterly entranced by the fact that Dr. Strange is a room full of books. Yes, all, uh, the furniture is made out of wood. And he's like, whoever has this place must be a person of great means and wealth because I don't think there is this much wood on our entire world. And it's one of those things where it feels a little bit sad. Um, and he's like, sitting and he's like, it's just nothing but books. Oh, this is so incredible. And there's the shenanigans, and they send him home. And then nightcrawler from the X Men.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Transport. So he finds, like, a weird gap in spacetime at the apartment of this woman who he's dating, who is a flight attendant, who, again, I don't think we have any contacts for which or something. Yeah, because, uh, that was the whole thing was I think Nightcrawler got raised by a magic user who followed something called The Winding Way. I can't remember. But anyway, so he shows up in the crystal and ends up fighting originally against Crystar with Multar, and then eventually gets home. And that's fine. But that's, again, another instance of a woman who is, at best, a prop. And then in the final issue, we get Alpha Flight, which from today's perspective, sounds a little funny because it's like, who cares about Alpha Flight? They're the Canadian superheroes. Like, whatever. Yeah. So they were kind of a big deal because Alpha Flight had their first comic series launch in 1983. So this was, again, Marvel trying to put another hot new book, theoretically, to do a crossover. And actually, I really liked it, like, the way that they brought Alpha Flight in, because they brought in Shaman and North Star and Puck, and it's Ogodi. He's reaching into his weird dimensional bag to grab something, and then Shaman reaches into his weird dimensional bag to grab something, and then Ogioti just happens to, like, they both grab the same thing at the same time, and Ogioti basically summons them through. But it's this funny moment where they're both tugging at this thing and Ogodi's hand is, like, coming out of Shaman's bag. And I loved it. Was it very funny? I don't know. It felt like Alpha Flight shows up and then the series ends with this double sized issue that doesn't actually feel all that eventful.

Jessika: No, it doesn't. I mean, ultimately, yeah, Moltar just becomes not molten, which, contrary to his name now, it seemed pretty fucking fitting when he was molten. But, uh, nobody else got to turn from crystal or molten. Like, fucking homegirl was still molten.

Mike: Mhm.

Jessika: I mean, it's like, okay, yeah, nothing really.

Mike: I don't know, it just it felt very inconsequential.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: And the issue ends with everybody gathered together and basically being like, yeah, hail Crystar. He's great. M. All hail Crystar, King of Cristallium. And it's like, okay. And Lavra is there too. She hasn't transformed and Alpha Flight is still there. We don't ever see them fucking get home.

Jessika: No, never. They just stay there. That's why we don't know. That's why we stopped hearing from them. That's why.

Mike: Although I did enjoy that Puck was hanging out with Crystar's uncle who was, like the same height as him. I thought that was very funny.

Jessika: Right?

Mike: That is true.

Jessika: That was pretty funny.

Mike: Yeah. But yeah, it's one of those series where I had a couple of issues when I was a kid, and one of them was that Doctor Strange issue. And I thought it was really kind of cool and I always wanted to read more of it. And then reading through this, I was like, this did not deliver as much as I was hoping.

Jessika: No. And it certainly didn't age well either.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: It did not pass the Bakhta test.

Mike: No. God, no. The other thing is, it reminded me in certain ways, it felt like US one where it's kind of like this weird sort of breezy storyline, but it's got so much exposition on every page. Every page. Almost half of the space is taken up by just these giant word balloons delivering so much packed dialogue. And your eyes kind of glaze over after a while because you're like, I don't yes, I don't care. I don't need to hear Zardath monologuing again. And his stupid fucking hat.

Jessika: Uh like, awful.

Mike: He's got this weird inverted conical hat, so it's like the flat top. There's no reason for it. And then originally he has two eye holes, but then Warbo put out his eye with, like, a crossbow, and so he only has one eye hole left, and it just looks very strange. I like the art. We'll talk about that in a minute.

Jessika: Yeah, it wasn't great. I mean, there were a lot of issues. There was this whole part of an issue where the writers and the artists and the editors decided to break the fourth wall and they're drawing themselves and hanging out with Christmas.

Mike: Oh, yeah.

Jessika: That's the point of this.

Mike: That was a thing that Marvel did. Called it's Assistant Editor month or something like that. And so there's a number of issues where they do that. It's all very tongue in cheek, fourth wall breaking. And it does not work here. It's really not very good.

Jessika: Uh, yeah. I was like, Why is this here? This issue already feels very long. Feldspar not a good leader. Not a good leader. Like, the town's literally getting attacked and he has sent everybody away. But also the princes, not good leaders. They don't delegate well. They just are like, oh, there's a problem. Let's go take care of it. My guy like, you have armies, go have a fleet. Take care of it.

Mike: Yeah, like you said, the women in this comic are not characters. They don't pass the Bechtel test. They're basically there for Crystar and Ambara. She is there to basically be a damsel in distress.

Jessika: Yeah, exactly.

Mike: Is that pretty girl showing a lot of skin in her gauzy outfits and Lava is I don't know. There to be, like, a sucky vis, basically, who is pouring poison in multi's ears.

Jessika: I can't tell you how many times Crystar was like, Ambara there's danger? Go outside. Like, what? Ambara there's danger again?

Mike: It's not good.

Jessika: He made her go off on her own, and then she, like, fucking got surrounded and it's like, yeah, you idiot. She like, fucking couldn't take care of herself. It's like, oh, cool.

Mike: Yeah. Um, and then there was Ika, who was like another crystalline woman who was like a magic user, but she's OG's.

Jessika: Daughter and he makes her crystal without even asking her no consent.

Mike: Yeah. And she's also like, she always calls him Daddy. And I'm like, it just feels not great. This is one of those comics where reading through it with today's lens, I'm like, this is not good. And trying to put myself in the seat of someone in 1983 reading this, I'm like, still not great. Yeah, it feels very phoned in.

Jessika: Well, there's a ton of toxic masculinity.

Mike: What?

Jessika: Yeah, and it's so gross. Like, there's this point where I was like, uh, this was actually really sweet, where, like, one of the men was like, oh, my wife and child who are not crystal are still in this town. And so he like, goes to give them a hug and he and the son no tears stoic. Right. The son's a child. He is a little child. He's a little child. The wife and the girl, one tear. They were crying, the boys were not.

Mike: That was issue four where I think he shows up and reads a story to his children that night, too. And it's like, uh, okay, you're like the most likable character, and you're just being a dad. Yeah. That said, comparing it with US. One and we talked about this before the episode started, I was thinking about how there were fewer women in US. One, but they were all much more developed mhm than the women in this comic. The women in this comic are all very one note. Meanwhile, in US. One, we had I think her name was Night Shade, where it was the waitress, but it turns out she was actually also like a masked kind of supervillain who had a hypno whip. And then there was also two other women who were very interested in Ulysses Archer, and they had strong defining characteristics that made them kind of like rough and tumble. And then there was a wide Load Annie, who ran the diner, and at one point they had to go on the run because she threw an agent or something through the diner window. That comic, uh, handled women much better, I felt.

Jessika: Oh, yeah, I would agree with that. Yeah, they definitely were memorable. I mean, even the way that they drew the women in this was, like, so just so male gazy. The women weren't wearing anything, basically. It took quite a few issues in for I keep forgetting everybody's names because they were so inconsequential.

Speaker B: They all kind of blend together, don't they?

Jessika: Really do.

Speaker B: And then they keep on also adding in more characters. And then they're like, oh, and then this person became a crystal warrior. I don't care.

Jessika: Yeah, why are they a crystal warrior? Like freaking Ika's boyfriend. Ex boyfriend. I'm not sure. He was just some neanderthal, mean dude. I was like, why were you even with this guy? I don't understand. He's like, you became a crystal person without even talking to me about it. It's like, first of all, bro, pretty sure you're across an ocean that most people don't even know that there's anything across that ocean. Secondarily, I didn't have a choice in this. Thank you. M. Yeah, it was pretty rough.

Speaker B: Yeah. But, uh, I will say I did actually really enjoy the art for the most part. It felt like a really cool kind of space fantasy because it has the kind of John Carter of Mars sort of vibe where it's like, oh, we're on another world. Oh. There are these scifi elements in the landscape and in the architecture, but at the same time, it feels, in terms of art style and clothing, like, kind of like something that you'd see from Conan as well. And, you know, the pencils across the board are all really good. Like, there was never a moment where I went, well, that was clearly phoned in, but there were times where I felt like I was reading. Okay, so remember how in, uh, the Dungeons and Dragons books that we were at the Dragonlands Chronicles? Mhm the first couple of issues with Thomas Yates artwork felt very static? Like, while we were getting told a story and then we were getting the illustrated painterly scenes. It felt a little bit like that, but with much more dynamic imagery because it was someone who clearly was like an accomplished comic pencillor who knew how to make things much more dramatic. Okay, so here's where things get interesting. You know how the best stories have a crazy plot twist?

Jessika: Yeah.

Speaker B: The plot is about to take a serious twist.

Jessika: Oh, man.

Speaker B: What do you know about Glenn Danzig?

Jessika: Maybe nothing.

Speaker B: Maybe nothing. Okay. Glenn Danzig is primarily known as a musician, mainly in the punk and metal genres. And he founded the iconic horror band The Misfits before he went on to other groups. So this is the horror slash Halloween connection for this episode. Because this episode is releasing in October, we had to incorporate something a little bit spooky. He's also extremely into comics, and we're going to talk about that. So in 1983, Danzig, uh, started working on a side project called Sam Hain, and he wound up disbanding The Misfit shortly afterwards. Basically because he was getting frustrated with the other band members, and Sam Hain suddenly became his main focus. And then in 1987, Sam Hayne changed its name to Danzade. In 1984, Sam Hain's first album initiative dropped. And I want you to check out the COVID art.

Jessika: Okay. Oh, okay.

Speaker B: Now I want you to look at the skull that's at the top of the band name. Okay.

Jessika: That looks familiar.

Speaker B: Yeah. Now take a look at the skull for Christian number eight on the COVID and compare the two.

Jessika: Yes. There it is on my least favorite cover, arguably. And again, I don't like insulting artists, but the lady on this is real phoned in. Look at her feet.

Speaker B: Actually, the COVID itself reminds me of the old, uh, dragon's Lair art with Dirk the Daring and then Dirk the Daring's girlfriend, whose name I'm blanking on, kind of, like, had the same long legged features with, again, a lot of thigh showing. So, yeah, it turns out Danzig swiped the skull that Crystal and Ambara are on top from that cover, and he just started using it as early as 1984. And apparently he hasn't stopped because it's, uh, it's featured prominently in his shows. Like, it's always in the background. He has it on everything. He's still using it. Like, if you go to his official website, the skull is featured prominently on the site's background and header. This is something that he's used for almost 40 years in his professional branding, and he's sold it on all sorts of merch during that time. There are photos on Reddit from shows this year where you can still see the skull hanging in the back of the stage. He even has this, like, giant honking custom belt buckle with the skull that he's wearing in these photos. Uh, I'd like to note that this is extreme hearsay, so please don't sue us, Glenn Danzig, if you ever hear our episode. But Comics Comics blog has an article titled Esoteric Comics History Part 600 and 660 that was written in 2010 by Spar Schmidt. And Schmidt says he met Danzig in 185 and actually called the guy out swiping his logo's art off of Chris Star eight. And Danzig's response was basically that he didn't steal it because he had to finish the art by completing the horns and the teeth by drawing in, like, that extra 5%.

Jessika: Oh, my God. I mean, he's not wrong, technically.

Speaker B: I mean.

Jessika: How much like, what's the technicality of this? How much how different does it have to be?

Speaker B: I don't know, man. It feels real dicey. I mean, but, like, to be honest, that sounds like what dancing does. The Misfits iconography used the visage of this character called the Crimson Ghost, who is a villain from a 1946 film serial series. And the most wild part about this entire story is that this isn't a secret. The Danzig skull and its connection to Crystar is sort of an industry legend that pops up from time to time, and it's been featured in prominent YouTube series and comics blogs. But it's also one of the stories where a lot of people haven't heard of it because they don't know much about Crystar. And Glenn Danzig is definitely not as big a musician as he used to be. If you look at his discography, the sales numbers keep on dwindling after he had, like, platinum success in the so case in point, like, I was actually chatting with Lance from Comic Bookkeepers and Jake from Spectacles about this, and neither of them have ever heard of either Crystar or the controversy around the skull. But as far as I can tell, Danzig has never beneficially questioned on it, like, in any on, um, the record capacity. And Marvel or Disney now have never done anything about it, probably because Chris are never really amounted to much more than an interesting footnote in comics history. And at this point in time, I'm kind of wondering if their use would be on dancing side. I don't know. But it might be considered like abandoned intellectual property because they haven't done anything about it. But can you imagine if something like this happened today? Like, how quickly that story would go viral and how many legions of lawyers would get involved?

Jessika: Oh, immediately. Immediately.

Speaker B: Yeah. So, I mean, you'll be shocked to hear Crystar toys didn't sell all that well here in the US. And it looks like Crystar kind of suffered the same fate in the comic books as that of Ulysses Archer, the hero from US one. He's sort of been forgotten even though Marvel still owns him. And the series has never been collected. It isn't even available on Marvel Unlimited. It's also very easy to find in dollar bins. I have come across so many loose copies of random crystal issues, except for number eight. Number eight is a collector's item now. And I have a reader copy that Guido from Deer Watchers found for me when he was out surfing through the quarter bin. So God bless him. And then recently, I came across an auction on ebay where I snapped a 9.2 graded copy of it up for less money than you pay to actually get it graded. So I felt like that was kind of a fun one to have a graded copy that fits in nicely with the trash pile. So Chris Star himself has occasionally popped up in cameos. Particularly there was Spiderman and Deadpool, like their ongoing series for a while, where he showed up occasionally. Marvel actually brought him back during the 2015 Secret Wars event that they did as part of the Weird World tie in miniseries. And Weird World was this fantasy setting, uh, featured in a series of comics from the late 70s through the early eighty s. And then the 2015 series wound up taking a number of kind of random fantasy characters from that era and then mashing them all together into a new story. And one of the big plot points is that Crystar's brother Moltar and his minions serve Morgan le Fay. And then Crystar himself is a bag of smashed crystals. But Warbo ends up snagging that bag from the Treasure room and escapes. And then Crystar is put back together and resurrected off screen and shows up to rescue the heroes.

Jessika: He is not.

Speaker B: It's actually really fun. Uh, I was reading through this series, and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. This is what I wanted Crystar to be. It was weird. And the art is beautiful, and it's, like, oddly funny at times. And Warbo is a giant whacked out himbo. Like, Warbo features a lot in this series. It's great. And they did a second volume of it, which was also really good. And the three main characters in the second volume of Weird World are all women, and they're great. And again, the art is beautiful. I would highly recommend it to anybody looking for something just different to read. It's really fun. And then the second volume ends on sort of a cliffhanger, but honestly, I would love to see all of this stuff come back at some point. And then Chris Starr and his allies also had an extended cameo in a three issue run of 2000 and Sixteen's Champion series, which focused on a superhero team, including Miles Morales and Miss Marvel, where the team winds up in Weird World. And an ongoing thing is that, uh, Crystar keeps on getting shattered leg and stuff, and then they're like, oh, he'll be fine. So at the end of this little three issue run, Crystar gets smashed apart, and they're like, oh, God, what happened? And Warbo was like, that's fine. We'll put him back together. It's fine. It's fine. No problem.

Jessika: Thank God. Just a Tuesday?

Speaker B: Pretty much. But yeah. Uh, I mean, Marvel clearly still considers them worth using from time to time. But meanwhile, the toys have become kind of this cult collector's item, and they suffer a reasonable amount of cash on ebay. Like, I was looking it up, and it's not uncommon to see the characters going for over $100. Yeah. So after all of this, I'm on pins and needles to hear your thoughts about the comic and its legacy.

Jessika: Oh, my God. So they had some really awful representation. They had, like, groups of people that were, uh, very obviously supposed to be based off of, like, Aztecs, Mayans, mhm, something really they really were trying to parse together lots of things I don't even know that they really knew. Yeah. Lots of talk of savages and sacrifices, let's just say. And it didn't hit the palate, right? It did not. Yeah, that was pretty lucky. They did that in a few quite a few issues for those bad boys kept showing up, and I was like, this is awful. This is terrible. They had a whole issue where they flashed back and they talked about how they had fought chaos before and they had fought Zardath before. Again. Why the fuck did Moltar go over to the other side? Uh, he's been fighting this guy forever. Like, the motivation isn't there for me. The logic isn't logic in the math isn't math thing.

Speaker B: Yeah, it's I was I was honestly really disappointed to read this all the way through and see how much it doesn't really hold up. Uh, it's a shame because like I said, that first issue has such an incredibly dynamic cover. Like, it's a beautiful painted work of art that looks like a movie poster. Ah. It had serious talent behind it. And I was getting more and more excited as I was documenting all the stuff behind the scenes about who made this and reading through the interview with Mary Joe Duffy and then reading through the series, I was just like, what a nothing thing. What an interesting concept. That it's not the best concept or anything, but like, I feel like you could do some really fun stuff with it.

Jessika: Yeah.

Speaker B: Especially the fact that they were having him crossover with a number of major six one six characters for the time. And I don't know. Ah, I finished that last issue and I just felt kind of deflated. I was like, oh.

Jessika: I was like, oh, we're here.

Speaker B: Yeah. I was like, all right, man. But I'm still surprised that Marvel hasn't put out a digital collection of it or released a hardcover. Because the thing is that our generation that grew up in the is now the one with all the spending money, with all the disposable income. And this feels like something that would have a dedicated fan base to pick up because of the nostalgia involved.

Jessika: Mhm.

Speaker B: Or also just because they're just like, this looks wild. And it's just man, I wanted something better. I was expecting something better. And unfortunately, it just didn't deliver on that things.

Jessika: We did get dragons. We got dragons of all sizes. We got dragons sitting on people's heads. We got dragons you ride. We got dragons that could somehow withstand heated molten crotches. Not sure how that worked.

Speaker B: Yeah. And we also got a number of problematic representations of women.

Jessika: Nothing. Burgers of women. Good lord.

Speaker B: Yeah. All right, well, that is the exhausted summary of Crystar. I don't know if you could double we both look so tired on the video, so I feel like we've cracked this crystal about as much as we can.

Jessika: But not that kind of crystal.

Speaker B: But, uh, not that kind of crystal. So what do you say we head on over to Brain Wrinkles?

Jessika: Let's get the fuck out of here.

Speaker B: All right. So we are at the part of the episode called Brain Wrinkles, which is when we discuss that one thing that is comics or comics adjacent that has just been rattling around our head for the last couple of days. Jessika, what is banging around in there.

Jessika: You know, it's so funny that you brought this up a little bit earlier, but I've been thinking about order and chaos, because it came up here, and it came up again a couple of weeks ago when we had Dan on to talk about hell razor and god, talk about two totally different vibes for ordering chaos.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Jessika: Like, here, it's like, oh, order are people made of glass. Yeah, okay. It makes total sense. It's like in hellraiser, it's like order is a gruesome thing.

Speaker B: Mhm.

Jessika: Order is a man with pins all in his head.

Speaker B: Order is all about punishment.

Jessika: Exactly. And that is really the same vibe as, what's your pleasure? If you think about it, it's just a different way to look at order and chaos, and we all compartmentalize things a little bit differently. Who's to say who's right on this? Order to some is chaos to others and vice versa. I got to tell you, I have the type of memory where if I set something down, I usually remember where I've set it down, but I see it in my brain where I've set it down, and that's how I see it. So if anybody comes around and fucks with my shit, I go back to the place where I saw that thing, and the thing isn't there anymore. And I'm just like, ah.

Speaker B: Uh.

Jessika: But that also means that I am a little cluttered, but I know where everything is.

Speaker B: This is deeply relatable, because when Sarah and I started dating, she came over to my office. The place didn't look like it wasn't super messy or anything, but I had, like, piles of books everywhere in my apartment. And she was like, uh, you know within every one of those piles, don't you? And I'm like, yeah, I totally do. And turns out that's not how I live. Now I have to keep everything on a shelf. The compromises that we make for our loved ones.

Jessika: I live alone, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Speaker B: Well, it's a small price to pay, because I kind of am punching above my weight class with her.

Jessika: You guys are great. I'm a solo chicken. I have solo roost up in here.

Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, your only living partner is your dog.

Jessika: Yeah. Listen, carl is enough. He's enough in this space. I live in a glorified trailer. There isn't room. There's no room for you.

Speaker B: Meanwhile, we just keep on accumulating dogs. I think by the time this episode hits, our third dog will have joined the house, though.

Jessika: Literally, the only reason I don't have another dog is because my house is so small.

Speaker B: That's all right. Well, loan you Noodle. He's tiny.

Jessika: Noodle. Uh uh.

Speaker B: Spoiler alert, everyone. We're getting a dachshund puppy named Noodle, and he's the runt of the litter. He's very cute. He's got lots of rolls around his ankles.

Jessika: You guys, this dog, uh, you will want to squish his he looks so soft.

Speaker B: Don't worry, there will be lots of pictures.

Jessika: Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Well, that was really my brain wrinkle, was just thinking about the difference of what it means to be chaotic or to have order. And it looks so different depending on who you're talking to and in a lot of different ways.

Speaker B: It's, uh, a good one. I like it.

Jessika: What's in the old noggin for you, sir?

Speaker B: Unsurprisingly. I have been thinking about 90s trash comics and my friend and the friend who sent me the issue of Poe, which we talked about in our last dollar bin discoveries. We were talking about how during the height of the comics boom, there were a lot of issues that would be like key issues. So it would be like the first appearance of a new team or a new costume or something like that. And there would be multiple printings of these issues. And at the time when they were coming out, the second, these third, these fourth prints were not worth much. And these days, however, because there weren't necessarily as many issues printed, they are suddenly highly valuable. They are worth more money sometimes like many times more money than the main key issue.

Jessika: Mhm.

Speaker B: It's something that I think is just kind of interesting because I was sent a copy of the first appearance of the new Fantastic Four, which is Ghost Rider, Spiderman, the Hulk, and Wolverine. And it's this like, little three issue thing. It's nothing big, but they did a second printing of it. And the second printing, it turns out, goes for way more money than the one that I have. And I was sitting there and laughing about it because I remember you could not give that issue away in that printing to my friends. They did not want it. None of us did. When I was a kid and that issue originally came out, it was like the comic stores were like, oh, we have the second print if you want it. And we're all like, no, that's not the same.

Jessika: Oh my gosh, that's so funny.

Speaker B: Yeah, there's no real point to this thought that I've just been letting kind of live rent free in my head for a couple of days. Other than it's just kind of interesting to note how trends change and what we assign value to changes as well. Yeah. Um I don't know. That's probably a larger discussion that we need to have with Jake and Jesus.

Jessika: Yeah. And I mean, definitely nostalgia is a powerful driver.

Speaker B: Well, yeah. So, uh, that is going to do it for this episode. Thank you everyone, for once again coming down this very strange historical rabbit hole with us. We will be back next week with another dollar bin discovery. And then two weeks after that, we will be covering something else that I don't think either of us even knows what it's going to be yet. But until then, take care. Of yourselves and we will see you in the stacks.

Jessika: Thanks for listening to Tencent Takes. Accessibility is important to us, so text transcriptions of each of our published episodes can be found on our website.

Speaker B: This episode was hosted by Jessika Fraser and Mike Thompson, written by Mike Thompson and edited by Jessika Fraser. Our intro theme was written and performed by Jared Anderson Johnson of Bay Area. Sound our credits in transition music is Pursuit of Life by Evan McDonald and was purchased with a standard license from Premium Beat. Our banner graphics were designed by Sarah Frank, who you can find at uh., if you'd like to get in.

Jessika: Touch with us, ask us questions, or tell us about how we got something wrong, please head over to M or shoot an email to ten cent You can also find us on Twitter. The official podcast account is ten cent takes. Jessika is Jessika with us? And, um, Jessika spelled with a K. And Mike is Van seoul. V-A-N-S-A.

Speaker B: If you'd like to support us, be sure to download, rate and review wherever you listen. Stay safe out there and support your local comic shop.


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