Detective Comics #620 (Late August, 1990) was released right in the middle of a terrific era for the title. I was a huge fan of Breyfogle's artwork and it was one of my 'go to' titles during the last years of high school. Breyfogle was also a very inventive cover artists, playing around with layouts and design. This isn't his best work, but it is certainly far from bad. I do like the way his signature appeals to be nothing more than another crease in the cowl.
The second iteration of What If? never quite lived up to the quality of its predecessor. That said, I think the cover to What If #50 (June, 1993) is an appropriate cover design for the story, focusing on the inherent creepiness of an admantium skeletal structure. I don't know much about Armando Gil, but he seems to be very capable of delivering the kind of covers Marvel was known for in the early 90s. That's called damning with faint praise, kids.
Let's finish up with a cool one. The cover to Legion of Super-Heroes #47 (September, 1993) is pencilled by the great Stuart Immonen. His Skelegionnaires have been given a real zombie vibe. I love their posture. I also love the fact that the Invisible Kid's headband stayed on. Is that big skeleton Blok? Didn't he have a costume during this era?
You might be surprised to find out just how often this cover gag has been used, although it seems to have been more popular at DC.
Let's start with my favourite. The cover to Wonder Woman #298 (December, 1982) is quite stunning. It brings a House of Mystery/Secrets vibe to a superhero title. Frank Miller was a terrific cover artist, and did created some truly remarkable images for both Marvel and DC. I think Dick Giordano was a good inker for him and I wish they had worked together more often.
Flash #186 (March, 1968) is another great one. This is the kind of Silver Age cover that would have intrigued any 10 year old on the planet. Ross Andru pencilled a ton of great Flash covers over the years. His sense of design is terrific. For another, rather gruesome Flash skeleton cover check out Rich Buckler's cover to #258.
The wonderful Jonah Hex Spectacular told us how our favourite bounty hunter would spend his post-living years. In fact the GCD Indexer stated "Lots of loose plot ends left hanging, including the fact that Jonah's death has been written already." All of that said, I still really dig the cover to Jonah Hex #92 (August, 1985). I am not always a huge fan of Denys Cowan, but his stuff looks really good inked by Klaus Janson. This is a fitting image for the final issue of a series that saw a ton of Four Colour death.
Alas, poor Clone, I knew him well. Or at least I though I did. The never followed the whole revisit to the Clone Saga in the mid-90s, so I don't have a clue how things turned out. In any event, the cover to Sensational Spider-Man #2 (March, 1996) by Jurgens/Janson team is pretty terrific, especially when compared to the dreck Marvel was putting on shelves during that era. It is a single image. There are no ridiculous captions. There are no mutants. There are not pneumatic babes. How did this get back the editors?
Ones of the things that I enjoy about house ads is that they a truly a snapshot of a moment in time. Here's one that would have been published in late 1957. What we can tell from the ad is that the George Reeves TV show has not yet been cancelled and that the Lois Lane comic has yet to his spinner racks. Both of those events would occur in 1958. A little more digging shows that the comics pictured here have a December, 1957 cover date. There's nothing all that special about the add, but I find the word 'Still' to comes across as a bit desperate. I also find it interesting that Superboy is not included in the ad, either in his eponymous series or Adventure Comics. It's funny how a simple little ad can get the gears of the brain rolling.
I have read a number of Goon stories and, while I have always enjoyed Eric Powell's work on the series, I can't say that I ever loved it. This has changed with Chinatown. With this tale, Powell has found the right balance of action, humour and emotional impact. Much of this has to do with the flashbacks presented here, as they fill in certain gaps in the Goon's past and help the reader to better engage with him as a character. The character design is also very strong here, as Powell pays homage to Eisner by filtering both the good guys and the villains through a fun house mirror of sorts. I'm not sure if this is a great introduction to the character, but it is not a bad place to start and fans of pulpy action will find a lot to like. Trade Mark: A-
While trying to sort out art credits for some recently purchased Charlton war comics I noticed this doozy on the Grand Comics Database. All Wally Wood art? A Jack Kirby cover? Count me in! There is some talk that one story is just Wood inking Bill Molno (likely, my least favourite Charlton artist), and I am guessing that much of the heavy lifting was by Wood's assistants, but I can live with that. This is the final issue, and you folks know that I love those. The thing is, sometimes these 80s Charlton books can be tricky to find, but the fun is in the hunt, isn't it?
I am not really thrilled with what DC has done with the New 52, but I will follow Oliver Queen just about anywhere so I scooped up a few discounted trades. Over time, I have learned that I am not a huge fan of Ann Nocenti's writing. I know that many fans love her work on Daredevil, but it never really did much for me at all. Nocenti is trying to do something great here, as she references both King Lear and Dr. Moreau in the same story arc. In the end, however, it fails to be anything more than a mindless punch up with poorly fleshed out characters - the new Ollie chief among them. The artwork is beyond atrocious, sacrificing storytelling for ridiculous poses. It represents just about everything I cannot stand about today's comics and it is such a shame that this has happened to a character with such a strong track record. Jeff Lemire has taken over the series, so I look forward to catching up with his work on it to help cleanse the palate.
I know quite a number of people who are big fans of this short-lived DC title from the mid-70s, and it seems to be quite well regarded amongst critics so I am confused as to why it hasn't been collected in one format or another. That slim Bat Lash Showcase trade looked just fine to my eyes and is all we really need. The stories are entertaining and the artwork by the team of Joe Kubert and Nestor Redondo is unbelievable, ranking among the very best of the decade. It would also be fun to include the Classics Illustrated version of Green Mansions as well as the issue of Super Friends that featured an appearance by the Jungle Girl herself. Perhaps it would not be a best seller, but I am certain that there are thousands of fans out there who would like all the stories in one volume up on the bookshelf. It is a genre that is woefully under served in today's reprint market.
In 1983, Gil Kane drew six consecutive Wonder Woman covers, five of which I would describe as portraits. These has unique layouts and very creative designs, giving them a bit of a 'pop art' flavour. The cover to Wonder Woman #304 is my favourite of the bunch. The use of blue really accentuates the colours of Wonder Woman's costume in the foreground and gives a shadowy feel to the larger figure in the background. The heroic look to the smaller figure juxtaposes nicely against the warrior-like pose of the larger figure in the background. I like the way Kane snuck his initials into the empty space. This cover really shows the strength of Kane's sense of design.
I remembering reading an article about DC's Rudolph books a numbers of years go (perhaps it was in Comic Book Marketplace). This type of strip would not typically not appeal to me, but I am always intrigued by any book that has such a rabid following. It wasn't until I actually bought this digest recently that I realized that Sheldon Mayer was the brains behind these stories. They are fun and inventive with a good dose of humour. The artwork is attractive and clean and should appeal to children under 10. There is some silliness, but it never moves into 'stupid' territory and they general contain some subtle moral lessons for kids. The digest format is pretty great, but might not works so well for those planning on solving the puzzles. Some of the material here is reprinted, but a couple of stories are new and come from a planned, but never published tabloid edition. Good clean fun.
There were a lot of solid stories during the Serpent Crown saga, but this is the true stand out. While some might view it as a parody, I prefer to see it as Steve Engelhart's love letter to the JLA/JSA crossovers. Everything from the beautifully rendered splash page to the font used for the various character groupings is pure gold (or should I say silver?). The only thing that could have made it more authentic was if George Perez had tried to ape Dick Dillin or Mike Sekowsky. The irony is that George Perez would soon be working on actual JLA/JSA crossovers as a result of Dillin's untimely death. As a bonus, we also start to see some of the internal problems within the Squadron Supreme that would ultimately inform Mark Gruenwald's amazing series in the 80s. Oh yeah, Jack Kirby cover, too! This one is a real treat.
When a series lasts a mere 7 issues, it is not a tragedy when it is cancelled but it is still fun to look at the contributing factors. I thought I had read somewhere that the MFA had his origins in Marvel's attempts to bring Namor to the small screen. My 30 seconds of internet research did not confirm that rumour, but I am certain I read it in a magazine such as Alter Ego or Back Issue. If it is indeed true, it would be quite ironic for Marvel to wind up publishing a series based on a character based on a Marvel character. The TV series was cancelled quite abruptly, which obviously left Marvel in the position of shuttering the series. The letters page from this issue is filled with readers wondering what Marvel will do now that the show is off the air. This issue also ends on one of the strangest cliffhanger I've ever witnessed (and that's saying a lot). Mark returns to find that the entire MFA team have mentally regressed to age 2. Behind this is a villain identified as 'Merry', who happens to be a dead ringer for Daredevil's foe the Jester. I have only read a few issues from the series but they were entertaining enough. Fans of Frank Robbins (especially Robbins inked by Springer) will have fun with it. Robbins haters may want to stay away.
Here's a type of cover you won't see very often, as it is not very easy to work the title into a word balloon. Let's look at a few examples:
The first one that comes to mind for me is Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #59 (October, 1981) as I bought it off the spinner rack. While the character poses on the cover seem a bit awkward and the colour scheme is drab, the design and execution of the word balloon is brilliant. This is a perfect example of this type of cover. Also a good one for fans of the Gibbons fans out there. You are out there, aren't you?
I only saw the cover to Superman #11 (November, 1987) for the first time a few weeks ago and it made me smile. This is a terrific way to incorporate the Superman logo into a word balloon. I love the fact that the balloon cannot contain the logo. I also love that Lois is so triumphantly 80s. Great stuff, but I kind of wish they had a Mxyzptlk font to use for our little imp.
The cover to Weird Western Tales #44 (Jan-Feb, 1979) is in a bit of a grey area, as Scalphunter is not technically the name of the series. The thing is, this is my blog so I can make up the rules so I declare that this one qualifies. In any event, it is very inventive. It would also qualified as a 'hanging from the feet' cover and 'racist sheriff' cover.
Let's leave off with Archie... Archie Andrews. Where Are You? #3 (September, 1977). I could have chose a lot of covers from this series, as they used the Word Balloon technique for the first 20 issues. In fact, everyone from Veronica to Dilton asked this question on various covers. Does anyone know of the earliest example of this type of cover?
The history of Charlton's Attack is, like many things that came out of Derby, quite complicated. By my count, being various hiatuses and relaunches, there were five different versions of this series. This particular issue is from Attack's final incarnation. It was relaunched in 1979, a rather odd time for a new war book as the genre had started falling out of favour. This issue contains reprints from two separate issues of War Heroes from 1967. They are solid stories with some pretty nice artwork. I can't place the artist on the first story "Forced Landing" - it is really quite impressive with some lovely shadow work and some great underwater panels. The other two are also well paced and entertaining. For a dollar bin find, I was quite pleasantly surprised. I may be turning into a bit of a Charlton war fan.
It is incredible to think about how many iconic covers Ditko created during his time on Amazing Spider-Man. It is also incredible to think that he was capable of creating something so bland. I don't know what was going on and how this one got the stamp of approval. I have seen far better covers by Ditko that were rejected. I don't actually mind the use of Atlas-era grey, but there is simply too much of it. The layout is also problematic: the main figures are so small and the spotlights seem a bit awkward for some reason I can quite put my finger on. I feel as though this is a so-so splash page they rushed to turn into
a cover. Honestly, I feel that it is among the worst covers Ditko ever drew. I am certain that there must be a story behind this one, does anyone know it?