Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best of the holiday season. Seduction of the Indifferent will be on vacation until the first week of the New Year. I've got to clear off my desk at work and after that, I'm family focused for 12 days. Work has been very busy lately, so I'm hoping to get some comic book reading in during my vacation - if my kids will allow it. I hope that everyone has a great time with their loved ones. See you all in 2010!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Add It To My Want List: Curse of the Weird #4

I only became aware of this series a couple of years ago, and I have never seen a copy of this a particular issues in my countless hours of dollar bin diving. What a treat! It features a reprint of Bill Everett's Zombie - a story which I first read as part of Tales of the Zombie #1. It also has Atlas era tales drawn by Basil Wolverton, Jack Davis and Steve Ditko. In particular, I love Davis' art for Marvel in the late 50s and even into the early 60s. In some ways it is a shame he didn't do more work for the Big Two, or even at Warren. I'm sure he was able to pick and choose whatever work suited him the best. If I could track down this book for a dollar, it would be such a bargain. I could live without the cover, though - as I really prefer the retro covers that were commissioned for the other issues of this series. If I had seen this on the racks back in '94, I would have pass on it based on this cover, not realizing that it contained pure gold inside..

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You've Been Warned: Dazzler #2

I wanted to like this book, as I sometimes feel sorry for Dazzler because she seemed dated before she was launched. She doesn't need my pity, however, as 90% of the Marvel Universe seems to be looking out for her. This one starts with a whole bunch of heroes getting ready to head to a disco to see Dazzler perform. Tom DeFalco inserts some lame humour that has aged terribly. Of course, a fight breaks out, with the heroes battling a horde of demons summoned by the Enchantress. The middle act is all Marvel fisticuffs with next to no originality. The final act has Dazzler heading to the west coast for an audition. Of course, she only gets to perform for the big producer because 30 superheroes smashed through his office window. I can't understand why all of these folks are so obsessed with Dazzler. They have only known her a few weeks. Weren't there any threats at all to the world that day? Did they think Stingray could handle it alone? Did they ever show up to support Simon Williams at an audition? I know it is all supposed to make me feel warm and fuzzy, but it has me rolling my eyes. Luckily, the series gets better.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Highlighting House Ads: Crimebuster's Paper Drive

Here's a great WW2 era ad featuring Crimebuster, the star of Lev Gleason's Boy Comics. I assume that CB (as he's known among his friends) takes the name of his comic book quite literally as he only seems to be addressing 'fellers'. I love the breaking of the fourth wall here, as CB's earnestly lectures the reader on the importance of paper. I never knew that 'most of the wood choppers' were off finding the war, and that was the key reason behind the paper shortage. You will note that CB never tells you to turn in your old comic books; just magazines, newspapers and such. They move on to pure scare tactics in the captions, stating that without more paper 'we won't have any more comic magazines'. Oh, the horror!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Comic Book Robot of the Month: The Robot Ruler

The robot as King/President/Ruler is a conceit we've seen throughout the history of comicdom, but it is a great one. My Greatest Adventure has always come across as the poor cousin of titles such as Strange Adventures and House of Secrets. Every now and then, I'll notice an issue of MGA that seems as good or even better than any other DC title. The story, Cure Our Robot Ruler - Or Die, may not be revolutionary, but it is quite entertaining. I don't know a thing about the interior artist; Paul Parker, but his work isn't bad - suffering only a bit from DC house blandness. This elegant cover, drawn by the great Lee Elias, immediately captures your attention. I think Elias' choice of perspective is what really makes it stand out, as well as the contrast between the metallic silver and regal red. As much as I love the Doom Patrol, it's kind of too bad that this series had to make room for it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hidden Gems: Giant Size Kid Colt #3

There are plenty of gems hidden in these Giant Size books, but I bring this one to your attention because it includes a story drawn by Reed Crandall. Sure, it is only 4 pages, but it is from 1956, when Crandall was still on the top of his game. Crandall is one of the all-time greats, and although he was still doing some new work in the early 70s, he had lost quite a bit of his touch and was out of the industry by 1974. His is a sad story, but his artwork should always be celebrated. The GCD states that there are two Crandall stories - but I think the other one they mention is Jack Keller. I don't have it in front of me right now, so I cannot confirm. It also includes a Joe Maneely story, a great Gil Kane cover and some Jack Keller goodness, if that's your cup of tea (I know it is mine). We're also in the 'Night Rider' era of the Ghost Rider's history, and this one has a new story. It isn't amazing, but any new western material is always welcome. It may take you a while to track down a copy of this one - but it will be worth it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Charlton Notebook: Beyond the Grave #11

This title was part of the Charlton mini-explosion of the mid-70s, but went on hiatus for nearly 7 years before returning as a reprint title in 1983. I once figure out who drew this new cover, but the name escapes me right now. Overall, this is a pretty good package with 3 stories - the first 'Not for Sale' (originally from a 1975 issue of Ghostly Tales) is pencilled by Charles Nicholas. His work is made to look much more lush by Wayne Howard's inks. The middle tale ("The Cure") is an old Dr. Graves story drawn by Steve Ditko. The reproduction here is quite good, as the paper is of decent quality and the colors and inks are sharp. Finally, we've got a terrific werewolf-centric story from Haunted Love #5 with charming Joe Staton artwork, who includes a pretty racy bathtub scene. This is definitely an above average reprint book, so keeps your eyes peeled for a cheap copy.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Trade Marks: The Question - Epitath for a Hero

By this 3rd trade, Dennis O'Neil and Denys Cowan are completely simpatico. They have really found their groove, and I found this volume to be even more consistently enjoyable than the previous two. While the story lines focus on mature material, there really isn't anything too exploitative or sensationalistic. It feels like a nice companion piece to other DC series of the time such as Green Arrow and Suicide Squad. Speaking of Green Arrow, Ollie makes a solid guest appearance here and it becomes apparent that The Question/Vic Sage is part of the DCU. That being said, O'Neil is creating a nice universe here, and the subplot surrounding the mayoral race helps bridge the issues together. I particularly loved the arc involved the paramilitary patriots. It seems to be somewhat prescient of some things we saw happen in the 90s. Overall, it's a very engaging read that holds up very well today. I still don't love Cowan's work, but I'm getting used to it. Trade Mark: B+

Monday, December 07, 2009

Exit Stage Left: Eerie #139

Eerie always seemed like the ugly stepsister to Creepy. Both Warren mags somehow chugged along until February of 1983, but for my money, Eerie #139 is the far superior finale. Why? Well, let's start with the cover. Kelly Freas painting an Gigereque Alien - does it get any better than that. Inside, instead of the expected collection of second-rate reprints that haunted so many Warren books throughout the 70s and early 80s, we've got a long (we're talking 40+ pages) adaptation of and AE Vogt story. This is a really nice change of pace from the short chapters of ongoing serials that were standard in the many b&w magazines of this period. There's a so-so 'Infinity Force' color insert at the back but it's nothing special. As Warren's bankruptcy didn't allow for much in the way of planning final issues - it appears to be blind luck that this one was the swansong. Compared to the last few years of poor quality books, Eerie went out with a bang and this one is worth picking up if you find it

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Memoirs of a Bronze Age Baby: Hercules (Modern) #11

Modern Comics were a funny thing, and confounded me when I was young. They seemed to be everywhere in the late 70s, and perhaps even into the early 80s. By 'everywhere', I mean the discount stores my mother used to drag me to in the east end of Toronto. Locals will remember names like Bi-Way and Bargain Harold's. These stores had out of date 3-packs and loads of Modern Comics. I had no knowledge of the pedigree of these books, so for all I knew Hercules and Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt were contemporary characters. This book really threw me for a loop, as I had never see anything quite like Sam Glanzman's artwork before (I don't think I'd seen any DC war books at that point, or at least couldn't spot the similarities). With hindsight, I can now appreciate that Glanzman was trying to give the book a very unique look and the characters look as though they've stepped right off a Grecian urn. I dig this stuff now (although I realize it's not for everyone), but I thought it was the absolute pits as an 8-year. I still kind of feel that way about the Sanho Kim drawn Thane of Bagarth back-up, though.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Steve Ditko Cover of the Week: Nukla #4

This is from the period where Ditko artwork was popping up everywhere, including ACG and Dell. Nukla was a short lived superhero title from Dell, and Ditko was brought in to draw the final issue, including the cover. I find the cover to be quite dynamic and nicely designed. Sal Trapani inked this one, and while I don't actually think he's the worst choice for Ditko inkers, he does seem to sap some of the Ditko energy out of the cover. The result is more of a toned down Ditko, much like what Ralph Reese did with Ditko's Magnus Robot Fighter in the early 90s. It's not bad, but I'd prefer it to be a little less clean looking. The word balloons are also a bit too intrusive and the garish color choices do not help. Overall, I like the overall design, and the figures but the final execution makes it feel too generic to be a great Diko cover.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Reprint This! Robin Hood Tales

Robin Hood Tales was one of the final series launched by Quality Comics in the mid-50s. The Robin Hood character was enjoying a renaissance of sorts, and a few publishers got in on the action. Even though it only ran 6 issue, the Quality series is notable because was drawn by Matt Baker. I believe all of the covers are by Baker and Chuck Cuidera, but as far as I can tell, all of the interior are pure Baker. That is pure heaven for fans of gorgeous comic book art, but the only problem is that the original back issues are very pricey, and that's only if you can find them. I don't believe that they have ever been reprinted, although I'd be thrilled if someone told me otherwise.

Robin Hood Tales was among the series purchased by deceased after Quality's departure from the comic book industry. Whereas they kept the same artistic team for Blackhawk (namely Dick Dillin and Chuck Cuidera), DC went with some in-house talent. Perhaps Matt Baker's page rates were too high, or perhaps he was happy to move on to other challenges. Irv Novick was on board for a number of the early stories, but the main team was Andru & Esposito, who were at the absolute peak of their powers. Bill Finger, Bob Haney and France Heron all contributed stories to this run. With a pedigree like that, I'm shocked DC hasn't seen fit to release a nice TPB of this book. Some of these stories were reprinted in DC Special, but that's not enough. If they are not going to do it, I wish they allow someone else to step in, as I'm certain a reasonably sized print run would sell through. There's a market for this kind of collection - I only wish DC would take more risks.