Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sweet Christmas! Luke Cage in my Stocking!

It seems that my loved ones have finally given up all hope that I will ever grow tired of reading funnybooks. For years I have included various comics on my Christmas Wish List and come out empty handed. This year was a major breakthrough as I hit the mother lode. Here’s what I found under the tree:

Alter Ego Subscription
This came from my 1 year old Logan (his mother helped him out a bit). I’ve been a subscriber for years. Roy Thomas’ fanzine (prozine?) can be a bit hit and miss, but where it’s on, it is a wonderful read. I just don’t want any more issues dedicated to Timely checklists. The Nedor/ACG stuff was great and I always love learning about non-Big Name creators.

Back Issue Subscription
Again from Logan (with Kat’s help). I’ve picked up maybe 5 or 6 issues of Back Issue and have enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s not terribly text heavy, so I find that I fly through a bit faster than I’d like but they hit on some topics that I really enjoy (like the Don Newton stuff recently). I am really looking forward to this showing up at the door every month.

Essential Luke Cage Vol. 2
Nice! My sister and brother-in-law live a few blocks from my favourite comic shop in Toronto (Paradise Comics) and grabbed this one for me hot off the press. I grew up reading Power Man and Iron Fist and although these stories haven’t aged very well, I cannot resist them. Call it camp, call it whatever – just don’t call it boring. I am looking forward to spending some quality time with Mr. C.

Essential Defenders Vol. 2
This also came from my sister and brother-in-law. I like, but didn’t love, Volume 1. My hopes are high for this volume as I know that it contains a good chunk of Gerber. I read Defenders as a kid, but that was mainly after issue #75, so this is all fresh stuff for me. It’s a great way to read a ton of old stuff.

DC Showcase Presents: Challengers of the Unknown
This was a gift from my parents. I have only read a few of the Challs’ early adventures, through the off back issue and various reprints in the 70s. I really like this period of Kirby art so I am anxious to get reading. I read the initial Showcase story and it was pretty good – although I wished they’d took a bit more time to explore the ‘living on borrowed time angle’. Darwyn Cooke was able to improve on it in New Frontier without trampling on what his predecessors had accomplished. The Kirby art looks great in b&w – very interested to explore the issues inked by Wood. I’ve always found Bob Brown to be a bit underappreciated, so I am looking forward to his pencils too.

DC Showcase Presents: The Unknown Soldier
This is from my parents. I own most of the issues in the collection, but really wanted it in this collection. I love the Unknown Soldier, and there’s some great stuff in this one. The first few stories aren’t the greatest as it is mostly just typical DC Silver Age war stuff. Once the writers get a real feel of what a great character the Soldier can be, the series takes off. It’s too bad it cuts off halfway through the Michelini/Talaoc run. I just hope that inspires DC to put out of Volume 2.

DC Showcase Presents: The Haunted Tank
My parents gave me this and then asked me what it was about. You should have seen the look on their face when I explained that it involved a WW2 tank haunted by the ghost of JEB Stuart. Some things are better off being discussed amongst us nerds.

With a one-year old running around the house, I don’t get as much reading time as I’d like, so it will likely take me a while to get through this stuff but it’s great to have a stack of wonderful material sitting on the bookshelf.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Charlton Notebook: August 1975

Everybody’s favourite underdog publisher had some ambitious plans for 1975. That summer, Charlton launched 3 new horror titles: Creepy Things, Monster Hunters and Scary Tales. I’ll be looking at first issues of the latter two, both cover dated August, 1975.

Scary Tales #1

Launched amid a relative horror frenzy amongst almost all comic book publisher (heck, even Archie was doing the Red Circle thing), it’s surprising that some of these Charlton titles found any fans at all. This one starts with a fun framing sequence drawn by Joe Staton as we are introduced to Countess Von Bludd. Things go downhill fast, however, as the first story about finding a vampire where you’d least expect is ruined by Sanho Kim art. I try to be open-minded about artwork, and count many of the lesser lights among my favourites, but I have never understood how Kim got work.

The second tale, ‘The Wedding Gift’ is an improvement and serves as the origin of Countess Von Bludd (did any other Charlton horror host have an origin story?). Who is the artist here? The signature looks like “Dementio”, but the GCD tells me its “Demetrio”. Either way, I don’t think I’ve seen that name outside a few Charlton book credits. It’s a little amateurish, but not bad at all. He adds some nice ‘drama’ to the story. Overall, this isn’t the worst Charlton horror book I’ve ever seen, but it’s far from the best. I am sure that the Countess’ legs are all that got anyone’s interest back in ’75.

Monster Hunters #1

This one also kicks off with a cool Tom Sutton cover, sullied by the silly picture of Colonel Whiteshroud. Then we have a nice Staton drawn framing sequence featuring a bit of flirting between the Colonel and Countess Von Bludd. The first story is pretty strong, written by Nicola Cuti. Wayne Howard’s art here is less detailed than usual, but he’s added some high energy Dikoesque panel, so it’s a fair trade.

The 2nd story is great, written by Joe Molloy (who?). It’s a great 4-page morality play concerning greed and mermaids. I’m sure this story has been told a dozen times, but this is likely the first time with fancy Pete Morisi art. Nice. The real treat here is the final story, which is the cover story. It takes place in Loch Ness, and our hero is a world-class cynic, apparently gainfully employed as a hoax detector. There’s a great twist ending that alludes to the ‘Hunter’ portion of the title. All in all, a much better first issue than Scary Tales, although Col. Whiteshroud’s legs never did much for the fanboys.