Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Drunken Imp and Blazing Chimps in "Hop-Frog!"

Here's another Halloween reprint; a true classic revenge tale by Edgar Allan Poe, ably adapted by two classic comics creators! Horrifically re-presented for your enjoyment, this particular Poe tale is a favorite of mine. If you like seeing blackguards get their comeuppance, you're gonna love "Hop Frog!":

Adapted from the Edgar A. Poe short Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Reed Crandall
Originally Printed in Creepy #11, Warren Publishing (October 1966)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beware...The Brain-Bats of Venus!

Greetings, ghouls! In the spirit of Halloweek, and courtesy of the public domain, enjoy a mind-melting thriller from the legendary Basil Wolverton! Beware...The Brain Bats of Venus!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rob Liefeld’s AWESOME MAXIMUM Bible Tales

I've just received a notice from the FCC. Apparently, as a comics blogger I am legally obligated to bitch about Rob Liefeld, and I haven't done so at all in the entire history of Again With the Comics. I must rectify this oversight immediately or face a hefty fine.

Rob's work doesn’t appeal to me much, but he has published some books I've enjoyed via his Awesome Comics imprint of the early 1990's. I've noticed that in the rare case he does produce something I enjoy, he inevitably screws it up, business-wise. In his own work, he flits from one thing to another, losing interest easily, and has thus failed to build a substantial body of work. TESTAMENT is just one of the many, many projects he has excitedly babbled about in the past, and then failed to ever actually produce and in this one and only case, I am sorely disappointed.

There's so many points where this project might have stalled out; maybe it was when Rob drew Noah and realized he'd have to draw all those animals. "Well, I could draw a couple'a gorillas, I guess, and TIGERS! Tigers are cool! Then an indistinct, crosshatched silhouette to indicate all the other animals that a quarter!?! SHINY!"

Here we see Will and Jada Pinkett Smith as Samson and Delilah, another bit of fantasy casting from Liefeld. He must have met the Hollywood power couple at some L.A. shindig awhile back or something, because for over a decade, he’s been chattering about various movie, comic, and media projects he’s been “working on” with Will Smith, none of which ever, er, happened. AND YES, Liefeld has produced one issue of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Menace, which I have, (and it was terrible) so he has some “professional” acquaintance with the Smiths. That doesn’t change the fact that I’ve heard Liefeld namedrop Will Smith, like, 100 times, and I’ve heard Will Smith namedrop Liefeld zero times.

I mean, Robert Crumb recently did an adaptation of the book of Genesis, and it looks great, and I plan to check it out and all, but flipping through it, my first thought was: “Not enough spaceships and giant robots!”. I'm with Rob here: why can’t the Bible be just as wicked kewl as “Star Wars” indeed? Boring ol’ Bible.

When I realized that mister hummingbird’s-attention-span Liefeld had been working on “Testament” the mind reeled with thoughts of the unfulfilled car-crash awesomeness that was lost when he chose to do “Heroes Reborn”, “X-Force”, half-a-dozen Youngblood revivals, and whatever the Hell else he’s been working on these last few years instead. It turns out he's been working on an entirely different Bible-y deal instead. THIS he finishes!? Bleh, looks unbelievably boring. Ya shoulda gone with Cyborg Moses, Rob!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Experiment FIS#10: DC's Original Outsiders Return!

I picked up Superman #692 based on a rumored appearance by the wacky Joe Simon/Jerry Grandenetti Outsiders, covered here before. Sure enough, there they were in Sam Lane's secret facility, whatever the deal is with that. James Robinson has been raiding the pages of 1st Issue Special for forgotten one-shot-wonders like Codename:Assassin, seen walking with Lane, and Atlas, seen in earlier issues. This was actually a pretty interesting issue overall, with a few big moments that would have been a lot more surprising if Id' been keeping up with the books, I'm sure. It was pretty solid, but there was a sequence with the new Zatara and some sorceress and Mark Merlin that just made my eyes glaze over, so I'm not adding Superman to my pull file just yet. I'm also not wild the Superman books' semiannual need to send Superman away from Earth and instead focus on people who, however interesting they may be, are Not Superman.

I will however, show up to see Lizard Johnny, the Amazin' Ronnie, Hairy Larry, Ol' Doc Scary, and Mighty Mary running around in the DC Universe.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Herbie Story by John Byrne

As I promised in an earlier post, here is John Byrne's contribution to the Dark Horse Herbie reprint book of 1992. This was apparently meant to be part of a longer 12-issue series that would mix new Herbie stories with old, but only this and issue #2 were ever released. Few have tried to match the original stories by Richard Hughes and Ogden Whitney, but Byrne does a decent job of capturing the Herbie spirit, if not the outright insanity his world. See for yourself:

"The Most Beautiful Mom in the World!"
Words and Pictures by John Byrne
Story scanned from Herbie #1, Dark Horse Comics (October 1992)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Recommended Reading: The Life and Times of Savior 28

J.M. DeMatteis has always been an excellent writer at odds with the conventions of his genre. In superhero comics, it is commonly accepted that might makes right, and a fist to the jaw solves all problems, yet his body of work reveals a thoughtful, philosophical writer with a conviction to loftier ideals. Now, deep into his comics writing career, The Life and Times of Savior 28 may well be J.M. DeMatteis’s last word on superheroes.

Originally conceived over twenty years ago as a Captain America Story, The Life and Times of Savior 28 shows what happens when a longtime patriotic superhero decides to denounce his previous life and embrace pacifism. Savior 28 is assassinated early in the story (that’s not really a spoiler-it’s shown on the cover of issue #1), and the rest of the story is narrated by Savior 28’s former sidekick, Dennis McNulty, now an old man. Through flashbacks and anecdotes, we see the lies, legends, and half-truths that make up the legend of Savior 28, and that led to his fall. We see how his own ego and grandiosity put him on a collision course with the U.S. government, his fellow superheroes, and finally with the man who was like a son to him. We see him branded a traitor, we see him die, and we see a quiet redemption in the aftermath.

Mike Cavallaro is the artist for The Life and Times of Savior 28, and he proved to be an excellent choice. His style is similar to Michael Avon Oeming, and reminiscent of classic Marvel artists like Sal Buscema or Ron Frenz, which makes this look that much more like the last issues of a long-running “real” superhero series.

The Life and Times of Savior 28 is a story about how lofty dreams too often fall before harsh reality, and how we build up our heroes only to tear them down. It is also a story that couldn't have possibly been as good with Captain America, and one that is that much better for having formed for a few extra years. It is really, really good, and you should check it out.

The Life and Times of Savior 28 is currently available in single issues numbered 1 through 5. The collected trade paperback will be available in December and is available to order from IDW publishing in the October 2009 PREVIEWS, page 267 (ISBN: 978-1-60010-576-0).

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Marvel's Superstars of Tomorrow (Circa 1993)

How Twilight ruined Comic-Con

Here's another selection from Marvel:Year in Review '93, this one focused on that year's bumper crop of twenty six crappy, horrible new characters, all introduced in that year's Marvel Annuals and all basically forgotten today. Oh, Annex is in the Initiative, Bantam was killed by an even more obscure superhero in Civil War, and I'm sure all the X- Guys are still out there running around somewhere, but most of these ciphers have dropped out of sight.

They all came sealed with a trading card, too. Do you still have yours?

"I created a New Character For Marvel and all I got was this lousy trading card!" written by Tom Brevoort and Mike Kanterovich, provided a funny and cynically frank look at the "creative process" that went into tossing together this legion of cliches and thinly veiled swipes. A narrow range of traits defined the Superstars, with the result that each was a salad of CURSED, PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED, ARMOR, MUTANT, ETHNIC, and/or KILLER ROBOT. The article provided handy visual icons to identify which combination of those each character was, adding extra categories for LAME NAME and ZERO IMAGINATION, along with mocking commentary on the new heroes.

I think I read three or four of these at the time, and as I recall, the new characters were all terrible and awkwardly shoehorned in. Marvel was churning out some awful books at the time, and you can imagine the quality control at work with 26 Annuals going out the door. Ironically, this goofy Year in Review magazine was probably the best thing Marvel did in 1993!