Monday, February 27, 2012

Comic Reader Résumé: November, 1983

ré·su·mé [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey]
1. a summing up; summary.
2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

Looking at the landscape of November, 1983, I feel I have some explaining to do. I hadn't continued with Captain America because of a combination of falling out of habit and Mike Zeck being replaced by a string of inferior artists. Friends of mine were buying Uncanny X-Men and Power Man and Iron Fist, so I just mooched off them. My local newsstand did not carry New Teen Titans, or it sold out before I could get any, so I was simply out of luck there. That's why I was always questing for the next new series, rather than sticking with favorites.

For instance, I bought Storm And Illyana: Magik #3. I don't think I'd quite grasped the concept of the mini-series yet. I was used to jumping into an ongoing series at a random point and chancing a cliffhanger, but these circumstances guaranteed it. Further, these were alternate fantasy universe, parallel timeline versions of the already byzantine Claremont X-Men and New Mutants, the latter unfamiliar to me. I pretty much didn't know what the hell was going on, or to whom, and who made my poor Kitty Pryde into an evil werecat? Tom Palmer did a such swell job inking over Ron Frenz that my mind recalls it as John Buscema art, but the story battered my young wet brain inside its soft skull, and I was still chicken enough to be too freaked out by the heavy metal Satanism on the cover to even consider buying #4.

I thought Green Lantern Hal Jordan was one of the best looking super-heroes around, which is why I bought his Super Powers figure. I likely also knew him from animation, but probably not all that well. The appeal was mostly in his uncommon brown hair, sleek costume, the boss oath, and the smart accessory. I think I also liked the design of Javelin, with his severe hair and the balance of gold and blue in his suit. It's also a cool name and weapon, at least until you start thinking about it. See, the guy had a bunch of collapsible trick javelins that he carried in pouches, sort of like Green Arrow... except that he would logically have less of a selection and lack the propulsion device to throw as far as a bow could shoot. It might have been cool if he was a gymnast who used a tricked-out javelin to pole vault, or doubled as a staff/pugil stick, but even then he would only be fit to fight guys like the aforementioned Green Arrow. Instead, he could fly, and throw pointy sticks at a guy who patrolled the galaxy with a ring that created anything he could image. Javelin was equivalent to a Firestorm villain in punching out of his weight class, and like the mighty hemp rope of Slipknot, he survived only through a loophole: the color yellow. I suppose the cover to Green Lantern #173 should have clued me in, but the issue ended with a javelin exploding on Green Lantern, covering him with yellow paint, and rendering him powerless. I'm not sure Hal's weakness had come up in my reading before, so as I watched him falling out of the sky to his probable death, I was thinking "this guy sucks." Not concern for his well being or angst at the cliffhanger, but more like "these guys are both so, so lame." This issue was likely my introduction to Bruce "Eclipso" Gordon and the Monitor, but all I took away from it was "yellow paint? Really?" I never fully recovered.

I want to say The Thing #9 was another three-pack purchase, but I have an odd association between it and a rarely visited Circle K in the exact opposite direction from my apartment as my standby 7-11, so who knows? Maybe it's because the book felt so off-brand. Joe Sinnott's inks gave Ron Wilson's art an old-timey look, and the Thing transforming into some sort of centurion battling cops was a very Weisinger Superman sort of turn. This stood in sharp contrast to Alicia Masters' disturbingly butch haircut, a very big turn-off even in pre-adolescence. I recall the book's splash page head shot giving way to a two page spread, which registered in my brain as a waste of three story pages. Blame John Byrne, ever fond of shortcuts and spectacle for its own sake. Suffice to say I wouldn't buy another one of these on purpose anytime soon.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Direct Currents: Friday, February 24, 2012

The Justice League Of Tater Tots

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 02.20.12

Awesome Art Picks: Psylocke, Fantastic Four, Mystique and More

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 02.17.12


The Aquaman Shrine
Mera Cubee
Aquaman Art Gallery: George Perez
Aquaman Art Gallery: Tom Beland
Who's Who in The DC Universe: Mera
The Fire and Water Podcast: Episode 13
Memories of Mera: Laurie S. Sutton

Every Day Is Like Wednesday
Just Imagine Dave Sim Creating Zatanna....

Firestorm Fan
Firestorm Meets Spider-Man in Super-Team Family!

Firestorm Fan's Plastique Week
Plastique in Who’s Who – 1986
Unhappy Valentine’s Day to Plastique and Captain Atom
Plastique on Smallville
Plastique in DC Comics Encyclopedia & Plastique Cubee!
Plastique on Justice League Unlimited

Girls Gone Geek
Supergirl by Mike Mayhew
Big Barda by Phil Noto
Damian by Peter Nguyen.

Gone and Forgotten
No Sad Songs for a Scarlet Speedster

The Indigo Tribe
Green Lantern Sinestro
Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #6
Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #1
Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2
Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #3
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters
Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #6

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
Young Justice #6 (September, 2011)
Comrades of Mars: Jupiter, the Dog with a Martian Master
JLA 100 Project charity art by Peter Krause
Creators of Mars: Eduardo Barreto
The Invaders from the Space Warp

Power of the Atom
Unhappy Valentine's Day: Captain Atom & Plastique

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Poll Results: World's Finest
Review: Supergirl #6
Golden Grahams Justice League Comic
Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #6

Review Section

Comic shop comics by J. Caleb Mozzocco

Comics Of The Weak by Tucker Stone

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care by Diabolu Frank

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comic Reader Résumé: July-October, 1983

ré·su·mé [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey]
1. a summing up; summary.
2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

Much of 1983 was underwhelming on the new comic front, in quality if not quantity. In July, I tried The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #10 after not quite taking home a number of previous issues. Maybe the inking of Danny Bulanadi put it over the top, since I seemed to pick up a number of books with his work in these years, and still think he's an unsung talent. The pencils by Dan Reed might have contributed, but I no longer own a copy, and don't actually know who the guy was. David Michelinie wrote the story, but he was never my bag. I don't blame him here though, because Harrison Ford's charisma and the kinetic energy of Spielberg action sequences never seemed to translate to comics. I recall Indy in formal dress hanging off the ledge of a skyscraper, fighting a savage to the death. That's a few pages into the book. The rest is a blank.

I came in too late to get the full What If experience, since the book would be canceled a few issues after #41. The story by Alan Zelenetz was appropriately violent and grim, abetted by Conan artist Mark Silvestri and Mel Candido. I liked the Sub-Mariner, but his underwater world of blue barbarians struck me as kind of dull and silly. Swell cover, though. This was another one from Gemco.

I know for a fact that I got Amazing Spider-Man #246 from a three-pack, rather than the August ship date, since I'd have never bought a J. Jonah Jameson spotlight on purpose. The story by Roger Stern was a collection of supporting character daydream sequences, which were nice enough, but the draw was the art of John Romita Jr. and Daniel Green.

Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham #1 was an oddball one-shot parodying two of my favorite heroes and the Hulk. It must have done okay, since an ongoing series arrived a few years later. The lead story by Thomas P. DeFalco, Mark Armstrong and Jose R. Albelo was cute with interesting art, and pointed out glaring flaws in the cannon Spider-Man and Captain America stories. The Goose Rider back-up by Steven Mellor struck me as weird and sorta gross, but the whole package was neat overall.

I bought Krull #1 by David Michelinie, Bret Blevins and Vince Colletta because I dug the photo cover and thought the movie might be interesting. They squeezed the entire adaptation into two issues, so it was a somewhat dense read, yet still managed to be dull as dishwater. I think I tried to watch the movie once or twice, but I either never finished or tuned it out while watching. All I really remember are trees and that claw boomerang thing.

Hawkeye #4, the best of this mediocre lot. The last issue of the fun archer's solo mini-series was by Mark Gruenwald with embellishing by THE Danny Bulanadi. In the story, Hawkeye beats a pretty girl nearly to death while going deaf. Shades of Black Cat in Peter Parker #76, I enjoyed it here, too. This was obviously a repurposed Green Arrow story, given that sonic emissions are what tore up Clint Barton's eardrums, and Mockingbird was always a Black Canary rip-off, but I didn't know that then. I just thought the villains were cool looking, the book was damned violent, and ended with the heroes newly married and nude in a bubble bath. I kept thinking it was some sort of dream/hoax/imaginary story, but Hawkeye continued to use a hearing aid while shacked up for years thereafter.

September only offered Daredevil #202, involving a dumber, more volatile, and shorter lived riff on Vandal Savage. It was by Denny O'Neil, William Johnson, and once again, Danny Bulanadi. There was also a goofy Assistant Editor's Month back-up. It wasn't a great issue, but I found the characters interesting, and would be back again.

October's Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #86 was an experiment involving comedy artist Fred Hembeck helping to draw a serious story alongside the regular creative team. I'd like to see how it reads as an adult, but as a kid, it left no impression. What did was my friend's copy of Uncanny X-Men #177, because I feared for my girlfriend, Kitty Pryde...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Direct Currents: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

R.I.P. John Severin, Comics Art Master Of Western, War And Humor

Scott McDaniel Speaks Out On The 'Static Shock' Creative Meltdown

DC Comics Solicitations for May, 2012

New Animated Covers By Kerry Callen [Art]

Sean Anderson Crystalizes the Appeal of Your Favorite Comic Heroes [Art]

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 02.06.12

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 02.13.12

Awesome Art Picks: Supergirl, Spider-Man, Nightwing and More

Awesome Art Picks: Jean Grey, Batman, Captain America and More

Awesome Art Picks: Batman, Wolverine, Spider-Man and More

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 02.10.12


The Aquaman Shrine
Top 10 Most Memorable Mera Moments
Aquaman and Mera Cosplay @ Wizard World New Orleans
AquaSketch by Rod Reis
Memories of Mera: Paul Kupperberg
Aquaman Art Gallery: Mike Allred
Aquaman Art Gallery: Luke Batt
Aqua-Family Character Designs by Ivan Reis

Brian Bolland's Blog
The Joker Who's Who from about 1990
Work in progress: Dial H #2.
Detail of the day: Invisibles cover
Detail of the day: Strange Adventures

Task Force Elite

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
JLA 100 Project Donna Troy charity art gallery
1995 DC Comics Wonder Woman Book "Dump"

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
Batman in "Bat-Murderer!" from Detective Comics #444
El Diablo in "The Fury of the Haunted Horseman" from Weird Western Tales #19 (June 1973)

El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker Presents:
Reading Crisis on Infinite Earths

Part 9: War Zone
Part 10: Death At The Dawn Of Time!
Part 11: Aftershock
Part 12: Final Crisis

Firestorm Fan
Custom Mego Firestorm Action Figure Box
Classic Firestorm by Yildiray Cinar
Multiplex in Who’s Who – 1986

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
Legion Lost #5 (March, 2012)
Superboy #200 (January-February, 1974)
2011 Yashuntafun Miss Martian "Casual Outfit" Cosplay Gallery
Women in Refrigerators, 13 Years Later
2011 "J'onn J'onesin" art by Ryan Bullard

Kevin Nowlan
Six Metamorpho covers
Superman & Batman commission
Batman Manhunter cover art

Power of the Atom
Justice League America #64 (July, 1992)

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Review: Action Comics #6
Review: Action Comics #6 Back-Up
Review: Hawk And Dove #6
Review: Superboy #6
Review: Legion Lost #60

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Comic Reader Résumé: June, 1983

My memories of June, 1983 reading are fuzzy. I know at some point a copy of Power Man and Iron Fist #97 came out of a three pack, but that would have been months if not years later, and I'm not even sure it was mine. Not the strongest impression, obviously. I specifically remember looking at Alpha Flight #2, and despite being intrigued by the ferocity on Marrina's face, it was Marrina, and she was in Alpha Flight. I recall tossing through the adaptation of Superman III, whose unintended side effect was to turn me off to seeing the movie entirely. I loathed Curt Swan as a kid.

Since the summer months were less than fruitful for my new comic purchases, I wanted to take a moment to play catch-up on a few missed entries. I've mentioned Gemco a number of times here, which was a retail chain that went defunct in 1986. My family's store of choice was K-Mart, which had a fine selection of toys I liked, such as G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, Mego Pocket Heroes, and especially the various cheapskate Remco lines (Universal Monsters, Dukes of Hazzard, Sgt. Rock, The Warlord, American Defense, Crystar, Mighty Crusaders, The Karate Kid, etc.) We went to K-Mart seemingly every Saturday, if only to pick up my grandmother's prescriptions from their pharmacy. Gemco was only an occasional stop, and I loved them because their toy selection was completely different, and often amounted to out of date clearance items that K-Mart had already dumped. Unlike K-Mart, Gemco also had a comic selection, including three-packs, a spinner rack of new releases, and even some Treasury Editions collecting dust.

Sometime in late '82 or 1983, I had the opportunity to buy one (and only one) such edition. I'm uncertain of the selection, but I'm pretty confident Batman #1 wasn't part of it, as it would have provided serious competition. Detective Comics #1 might have been there, but one Batman story and a bunch of plainclothes ballast would have been easily forgotten. I'm pretty sure one of the two Wonder Woman reprints was there, which would have been awesome to read, but a combination of Harry G. Peter art, Greco-Roman bondage fantasy, and the sheer girlishness probably weren't an easy sell to a kid. I suspect All-Star Comics #3 was there, but to be honest, I thought the Justice Society of America looked like a bunch of stupid weirdos back then. The Flash's tin-pan hat was a deal breaker, but the creepiness of the Atom, Hourman's hideous color scheme, Sandman's stupid mask, and the amateur dorkiness of the rest made it a no-show. Whiz Comics #2 might have been there, but I never chose the fake Superman over the real one, and it had the same problem as Action Comics #1 of featuring one super-hero story and a bunch of other junk.

My ultimate choice was clear, Famous First Edition #9, reprinting Superman #1. I loved that book to pieces, literally. Despite my affection for the movies; between them, reruns of the George Reeves TV show, the contemporaneous comics, and even the cartoons; the Man of Steel was kind of wussy. He had so much power that he used so unimaginatively against clearly inferior opponents. In the treasury though, I saw the seminal, primal Superman of Siegel and Shuster. He was still powerful, but more on the level of a Spider-Man type, although with a vastly different attitude. His opponents were still unimpressive, but his actions were not. When a knife bent against his skin or he barged through a steel door, it was realistic, and you could feel the might being wielded. Shuster had a raw thrust to his work, just detailed enough to be tangible while clearly representing only a snapshot of figures in motion. As great as it is to fly, Superman leaping really high and running across power lines was more real to me. I still occasionally have dreams of jumping up and briefly soaring low in the air, "Matrix style," and landing to do it again. I don't think that's a Freudian sex thing, since I'm perfectly happy to have those represented graphically. I think it's more like a temporary, believable escape from the bonds of reality. Also worth noting is that on the rare occasions I do dream of flight, it's Star Brand type practical levitation.

Part of the joy of the book was that Superman could overcome any obstacle, whereas I'd grown up on him having the "off button" of kryptonite that saw him consistently crumble like a house of cards in a stiff wind. Nothing could stop this Superman, which was a thrill, but the creators still found ways to create tension. For instance, an innocent woman is set to die at midnight, so Superman races against a clock ticking away in caption boxes to gather a defense to save her. Realistically, Superman could have just pulled her out of her cell first, but shut up already, it was cool. In another story, a war profiteer is taken to join an undercover Superman on the front lines. You experience the guy's terror, as well as satisfaction in his being made to realize the means by which he was turning a buck. It was somewhat sadomasochistic at its core, but covered in wholesome morality. Superman was essentially a socialist bully, but it was easy to fall in line with his logic and indulge in the power fantasy. It was clearly more satisfying than the passive authority figure he'd become by 1983.

Another comic I would have bought around this time was a three-pack collection of Marvel's adaptation of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I was a huge fan of the film, and as recently noted by Bitter Andrew, this was the closest thing we had the video back then. I remember going to the park and spinning the merry-go-round alone as fast as I could. I would then grab a rail, and let it drag me along the ground, like when Indy trailed a truck down a desert road by the length of his bullwhip. I had a few of the Star Wars-sized figures from the local Gemco. Once, I found an Indiana Jones doll partially open at a Toys-R-Us. It was missing his gun and maybe his whip and/or hat, plus a price sticker. There were no bar code scanners in those days, so my mother wasn't sure we could buy it in that condition, which made me cry until a sympathetic stock girl made up a price ($6? $9?) and pegged it with her gun. On her own, my mother ended up buying me a Ken doll and a couple of Barbies (not all at once,) so that Indy would have other dolls in his size range to play with. I eventually got a nude Gene Simmons "Demon" KISS doll second hand, so he was the obvious villain. My grandmother worried that there might be something wrong with my having all those Barbie dolls, and consulted her doctor. He told her that since I had boy and girl dolls, it might actually be good for developing social interaction skills. He was probably right, since I've never had any feelings of confusion regarding gender or sexuality, and get along well with others. My stepfather was less secure, and gave them all away behind my back.

Anyhow, the adaptation was written by Walter Simonson, with art by John Buscema and Klaus Janson. Not a bad team, and it sufficiently jogged my memory about favorite scenes in the flick in between viewings on broadcast television before VHS came along. I still have a copy somewhere in some format, probably the comic-sized collection of all three issues.

Since this edition was meant to discuss comics bought in June, I should mention the one that made it home. Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi was a superior viewing experience for a kid, and had me waving an imaginary lightsaber out the car window on the drive home. I'd seen all three of the movies at the cinema, the first at a drive-in, and at the time it replaced Raiders as my favorite film (until being unseated by Aliens in 1986.) The first issue had nice art by Al Williamson and a memorable Bill Sienkiewicz cover, but I never bothered with the rest of the mini-series.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Direct Currents: Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Enjoy the links while you can folks, because I'm going to d/c the DC a.s.a.p.

Al Rio Passes

It has been reported by Brazilian journalists that comic book artist Al Rio has recently died.

Stephen Amell Is The Green Arrow

'Watchmen' Prequel Announced by DC Comics: 'Before Watchmen'

Collecting the Legion 018: DC Super-Stars Society

In late 1977, DC proposed a fan club called the DC Super-Stars Society with a dozen chapters, devoted to a number of its popular characters and teams...

George Perez And The Death Of Lana Lang That Wasn’t

Why I Quit Static Shock by John Rozum's Top Ten Black Comic Book Superheroes

They’re aren’t all American, so the term “African American” doesn’t quite apply. I wish someone would come up with a more inclusive euphemism!

Fox Affiliate Demonizes DC Comics Relaunch for Sex, Violence, Whatever

Some Superhero Re-Construction Needed by Darin Wagner

Comics Everybody: The History of Donna Troy Explained

Gambling With The Dark Knight And Superman’s Erectile Dysfunction

MAD's 'Botchmen' Explores The Lighter Side Of 'Watchmen'

The Amazing 1966 'Batman' Trading Cards by Norman Saunders

Yasmin Liang's Justice League Gender Swaps and Fashion Illustration Tickle Our Fancy [Art]

The Wonder Woman Cheerleaders Of Russia

From Superman to Solid Snake, Loston Wallace Draws it All [Art]

Edwin Vazquez's Illustrations Drip With Awesomeness

Andres Romero Spends a Lot of Face Time With Your Favorite Heroes [Art]

Spider-Man's Tattooed Grandson and Wonder Woman's Hair as Envisioned by Rodrigo

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 01.23.12

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 01.30.12

Awesome Art Picks: Joker, Star Wars, Venom and More

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 01.20.12

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 01.27.12

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 02.03.12


The Absorbascon
GIANT PENNY WEEK, #6: Thoughts for Your Penny
GIANT PENNY WEEK, #7: Adventures of the Giant Penny!
GIANT PENNY WEEK, #8: Haikuesday with the Giant Penny
I agree with Sherri Ly of Fox News about DC Comics!

The Aquaman Shrine
Aquaman Art Gallery: Steven Morrow
JLA Puzzle
DC Super Friends My Busy Book
Aquaman iPhone Wallpaper
Super Friends Toy Car by AHI

Being Carter Hall
The Savage Hawkman v.1 Announced (Again)

Blog Into Mystery
Flash weds his lady love, that nagging shrew, Iris West

Brian Bolland's Blog
Ah! Elasti-girl!

Iron Fist vs Bronze Tiger

Comics Make Me Happy!
Two Face by Jegang

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
JLA 100 Project charity art by Joseph Michael Linsner
2000 Warner Bros. Studio Store Exclusive JLA Mug
"The Wonder Of It All" editorial by George Pérez (1986)

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
Kong the Untamed #1 (March-May 1975)
"The Sorcerer's Castle" from House of Mystery #272 (June 1979)
The Flash, Black Canary, Hawkman & Hawkgirl in Super-Team Family #3 (November 1975)
Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #8 (September 1972)

The Dork Review
Map of Smallville
Adam Umak's Villain Jam Pieces
Supergirl DVD Booklet

El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker Presents:
Reading Crisis on Infinite Earths

Part 5: Worlds In Limbo
Part 6: 3 Earths! 3 Deaths!
Part 7: Beyond The Silent Night
Part 8: A Flash Of The Lightning!

Firestorm Fan
Firestorm in Captain Atom #2 (April 1987)
Happy Birthday Firestorm Fan Blog!
Super Heroes Have Issues Too t-shirt
Putting Out the Flame of Firestorm
Ethan Van Sciver recent comments on DC Comics Message Boards
Darryl Banks Firestorm drawings

Giant-Size Geek
Mister Miracle by Mike Grell and Bob McLeod
Jack Kirby Fourth World Gallery: pinups by Byrne, Simonson, and more!

Girls Gone Geek
Stream of Comicsness – Week of 01.18.2012
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
Trinity Mothers

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
Martian Manhunter Mark III
2011 "It Even Rains in Space" Martian Manhunter color art by Michael Walsh and Adam Metcalfe
2010 "Miss Martian Manhunter" art by Matthew S. Armstrong
2011 "Have Peace Eduardo Barreto" art by Michael Netzer
Comrades of Mars: R'ell

Justice League Detroit
1984 Vixen, Vibe, Gypsy, and Commander Steel Postcard by George Pérez
Justice League: Cry for Justice (2009-2010)

Kevin Nowlan
Ra's al Ghul card art
Another DC card: Talia
Legion of Superheroes Painting
Mary Marvel
Batman gargoyle drawing

Power of the Atom
The All New Atom Ryan Choi Index
2011 The Atom pondering art by Shelton Bryant

Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man
The Doomsday Book!

Silver Age Comics
The Continuing Dilemma of Brainiac 5
Brave and Bold #1

Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD (Task Force X)
Suicide Squad: A Watery Grave & Captain Boomerang's "Flash back" in Brightest Day #7
Suicide Squad #5 Review: Diablo BBQs Belle Reve , King Shark eats somebody again & the hunt for Harley is on!
Here's Black Spider back in my very first comic at age 6 . Now he's in The Suicide Squad 33 years later

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Dollmaker Designs And Jamal Igle's Run
Back Issue Box: Action Comics #595
Review: Supergirl #5
New Supergirl #6 Cover
Review: Superman #5
Back Issue Box: Adventure Comics #399

Tower of Fate
A Comparison of the Babylonian Mythology of Negal (Nergal) and the DC Mythology of Negal
History of Dr. Fate Pt. 4
Doctor Fate @ Deviant Art
Doctor Fate Cake
Review: The Golden Age Dr. Fate Archives Vol. 1

Review Section

The Buy Pile by Hannibal Tabu

Comic shop comics by J. Caleb Mozzocco

Comics Of The Weak by Tucker Stone

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care by Diabolu Frank

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Comic Reader Résumé: March-May, 1983

ré·su·mé [rez-oo-mey, rez-oo-mey]
1. a summing up; summary.
2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

As I mentioned last time, March, 1983 was a bad month for continuing storylines. I failed to follow-up on cliffhangers in Captain America, Power Man and Iron Fist, and come to think of it, anything else. Maybe I'd tapped out my change tips from picking up packs of cigarettes for my grandmother at the 7-11? Times must have gotten tough, because I skipped April, as well.

The first book I bought after the slump was May, 1983's Alpha Flight #1. At a dollar, it was a big ticket purchase, although a bargain at its double length page count. Like most of the comic world, I loved John Byrne in his prime, and all those great looking Marvel heroes on the cover made it an easy sell. However, I soon realized that of those heroes, Alpha Flight were clearly the least. For instance, grouping Snowbird, Northstar and Aurora together made it clear that they barely had one costume color between them. Puck's defining character color is his own hairy flesh. The same was true of Marrina's jaundiced skin, her suit coming out of Namorita's closest. Sasquatch was a poor man's Beast, and Shaman seemed rejected by the Global Guardians. Guardian was the only well designed character in costume, but that costume was the sum total of his personality. The "Alphans" (blech) fought a bunch of giant muck monsters from Canadian Native folklore, which today I would find neat, but as a kid bored me. They reminded me of a movie called Shadow of the Hawk that tripped me out, but it was spooky because it was normal humans against an alien form of the supernatural. Brightly colored super-heroes following in the footsteps of Jan-Michael Vincent were considerably less impressive. For years, it was a book I'd toss through for Byrne, but not actually read.

I next bought All-Star Squadron #24, lured in by what amounted to Spider-Man versus the Justice Society. I had trouble wrapping my brain around heroes still fighting World War II in 1983, but to this day I think the redesigned Tarantula looks fantastic. I'm sure Ditko's version of Blue Beetle was a big influence, but the uncommon use of brown classed the Tarantula up. Chuck Dixon teased the character's return throughout his Nightwing run, only for Devin Grayson to pull a gender switch with necessary adjustments to the costume that ruined its gracefulness. The art by Jerry Ordway and Mike Machlan was lovely, but Roy Thomas has never been a favorite of mine, and the story's the thing. I might have given the book another try, but I specifically recall buying this off the spinner rack at Gemco, the only place I ever saw the title in my pre-comic shop days. Shopping trips there were momentous, but irregular.

The New Teen Titans Annual #2 was a huge book for me. It was the debut of a new Vigilante, who I recognized as a Punisher knock-off. However, Punisher appearances were few and far between back then, and I hadn't read any but a two-parter from 1977. The Hitman had kidnapped J. Jonah Jameson, so Spider-Man had to not only save his despised boss, but also keep Frank Castle from murdering anyone, all while fighting on the Statue of Liberty. While a cool action piece, the story was only slightly less silly than average.

The Titans were comparatively hardcore in "The Murder Machine," as they pushed the boundaries of heroism in their dogged pursuit of justice for a friend's family's murder by mobsters. Basically, it was my introduction to the type of "grim n' gritty" super-heroes that would dominate the '90s. Wolfman clearly relished getting nasty and playing around with the darkest tropes of old school gangster flicks (I especially loved the game of Ding-Dong Ditch.) Perez was at his most cinematic and detailed, finally inking himself in a tour de force.

Besides looking amazing and being lethal as hell, the comic finally offered me (and likely, a generation of haters) a version of Robin to cheer on. One of my favorite comic moments was when Robin plays at intimidation in a restaurant, kicking a bodyguard in the face with his little green bootie. The mobster's bimbo says something like, "I always thought he was a boy, but he's a man!" If only Nightwing had followed through on that promise. I loved the heck out of this book, and still have most of my original copy, although some of it is in pieces. This story insured a loyalty to the Titans that would make me a hardcore DC fan in the '90s, although DC shot itself in the foot by making it direct sales only at a time when the newsstand was my only regular source of new comics.

Finally, there's The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior #3. I had wanted to try the first issue, but it was prohibitively expensive at $2.00. I liked the Crystar toys, and had inherited an interest in Dr. Strange from my uncle, so this standard issue got the nod instead. Nice cover, decent story, solid interior art, but nothing to inspire further reading. What makes my memory of the book fond was that for some reason, my grandmother decided to write my name under the indicia as a theft prevention device. It was the only time she ever did that, and while I have (mostly) lost and (occasionally) gained a great many comics through grift, I still have this one.