Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Charlton Notebook: E-Man #8

All issues of E-Man are terrific, but this one is a real find for old school comic book nerds. Actually, there's something for almost every type of nerd in here. It's as if the Easter Bunny visited the Charlton offices in Derby, CT and left eggs all throughout this book. Keen eyed readers will discover references to Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and even the Mighty Heroes from Archie Comics. There are also references made to Philip Marlowe, Mike Hammer and even the ill-fated Miles Archer. ERB fans will like the Pellucidar vibe in the second half of the book. Oh yeah, and The Battery returns. Great fun all around.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trade Marks: Uzumaki Vol. 1

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while may have figured out that I really don't know the first thing about Japanese manga. My total exposure consists of a half-dozen books or so (and that includes some First Comics' Lone Wolf & Cub floppies), and I had never ready any horror manga. A friend recommended quite a few titles to me, and this is the first one I picked up. It's a crazy anthology, filled with stories about spirals. Spirals, you ask? I also thought it would be a lot of silliness, but these stories are really quite effective and creepy. It's a strange mixture of psychological and body horror. Some segments are superior to others but, overall, Junji Ito's compelling storytelling makes for a very enjoyable read. Trade Mark: B+

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Highlighting House Ads: Danger Trail #2

You've heard the phrase 'A Pictures Says a Thousands Words', right? Well, a picture accompanied by a thousands words must be even better. Actually, I really like this ad because it serves as such great snapshot of the 1950s. Like the James Bond films of the 60s, this series served as a sort of travelogue for passportless readers, taking them from London to Argentina. This must certainly contain one of the small handful of US comic book stories to take place in Trinidad. I have no idea why this series didn't catch on as the stories were fun, the artwork was great and ,with these ads, they were really doing their best to sell kids on the exciting international adventures contained within.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Comic Book Robot of the Month: Ultron

Obviously, Ultron (regardless of incarnation) is one of the top 5 comic book robots of all-time. From his very first appearance, readers knew that he was unlike any other robot they'd ever seen. My favourite Ultron appearance takes place in Avengers #161. This issue is best known for the incredible Ants vs. the Avengers cover by George Perez, but the second half of the issue features Ultron completely dismantling the team. It is built up almost like a slasher movie, as we don't initially see the attackers. By the time the we get the final shot of Jarvis dropping the groceries at the sight of the decimated group, we know that this version of Ultron won't let his head get kicked around some kid. I know it's just comics, but Ultron kind of frightens me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quick Book Reviews

Death Troopers
As much as I loved all things Star Wars growing up, I never really got into the whole Expanded Universe stuff. I read and enjoyed the Timothy Zahn trilogy back in the early 90s, but that’s about the extent of my exposure. I had heard pretty good things about this one, so I checked it out from the library and a couple of days later returned it with a big grin on my face. It’s silly and not particularly well written, but it’s got a good concept and the little twist halfway through the book brought on a nice nostalgic glow. It is completely disposable, but totally enjoyable.

Over the years, I have heard so many people rave about the Fletch books that I worried that this would not live up to expectations. Not to worry, as I enjoyed the hell of out this book. It’s a short, lively book but the characterizations are quite strong and the dialogue extremely sharp. I can understand why the material and tone was tweaked for the movie, but they can co-exist quite nicely. I look forward to tracking down the other books in the series.

Revolutionary Road
Not the best book to read whilst trying to enjoying a romantic vacation with your wife. It is beautifully written, but depressing as hell. It’s sort of like Mad Men without all of the one-liners and where you get to watch souls being crushed. It is as if you are witnessing a slow motion car crash but are powerless to do anything about it. It is quiet and subtle, and yet incredibly powerful.

The Lincoln Lawyer
This book, on the other hand, is complete tripe. That being said, it was strangely compelling and did a pretty good job of cleansing the palate. For some reason, this was selected for my wife’s book club. I don’t know what they can discuss, other than to say that it is a pretty good distraction while sitting on an airplane. I can’t recommend it, but I feel like it does precisely what it is supposed to do.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hidden Gems: DC Special #23

I love the Three Musketeers - who doesn't? Between the Richard Lester films and the candy bar, the Musketeers were experiencing quite the renaissance during the 70s. DC decided to jump on the bandwagon with this issue of DC Special. It is the 2nd of three books under the Three Musketeers/Robin Hood banner. This issue took me by surprise as I thought it would be 100% reprints. There is actually a rather fun 17-page story written by Bob Haney. I know that Lee Elias is not a huge selling point for many readers (I happen to love him), but this is some his cleanest, most accessible work of the decade. Speaking of reprints, there are some terrific ones here. The first of two Robin Hood story from 1957 features gorgeous artwork by Russ Heath. Check out his duds and tell me that it didn't impact Neal Adams' redesign of Green Arrow. The second tale is not quite as spectacular, but it is still enjoyable with solid art by the Andru/Esposito team. Overall, it's a great book and a very nice change of pace for 1976.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Steve Ditko Cover of the Week: Machine Man #13

Here's one from a book that, for one reason or another, I've never actually owned or read. At first glance, it seems like a fairly standard late 70s superhero cover. There are, however, some little touches that help to set it apart. For one, it has an incredible clean design. Covers were becoming increasingly cluttered during this era, and even Ditko fell into the trap of throwing too much onto a cover from time to time. I also really like the perspective chosen for this cover. The way it has been slightly titled to the left really helps provide the sense of height. Finally, the small figures of the construction workers really help to accentuate the perspective. I'm not really sure what 'Xanadu!' has to do with anything, but I am kind of wondering if Kublai Khan was a big Sam Peckinpah fan. This is not a Ditko classic, but serves as proof that he could still design an attractive and effective cover.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Exit Stage Left: Teen Titans #53

The Titans' second kick at the can wasn't terribly successful. After a hiatus of more than 3 years, the series returned with an expanded cast, introducing characters such as Bumblebee and the Joker's Daughter/Harlequin. There was also an attempt to expand the group's scope, with the Titans West, predicting later expansions of groups such as the Avengers and the JLA. This issue is not much of a last hurrah for the group, as it is really more of a Year One tale, revisiting the group's origins and initial membership. Bob Rozakis' tale is, as per usual, dialogue heavy and unnecessarily convoluted. The artwork by the team of Juan Ortiz and John Fuller is flat and quite odd in spots. The entire tale is driven by a creature called The Antithesis, perhaps one of the worst designed beings in the history of the DCU. He looks like some sort of patchwork of all children's toys circa 1978. The most interesting aspect of this issue is the editorial update and sign off, explaining what has happened and where the various character will be appearing next. This was not much of a send-off, but I'm not entirely convinced that this group deserved one.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Married With Clickers: Episode 16 - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This week take a trip (get it?) into the collective minds of Terry Gilliam and Hunter S. Thompson with a review of 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Did we love it? Did we loathe it? Did we fear it? Tune in to find out. We also chat about 1984's The Bounty as well as film noir classics Criss Cross and The Big Combo. Our Question of the Week is: What 'unfilmable' book should never have been made into a movie? Feedback keeps you on our Christmas list, so email us at marriedwithclickers at gmail.com or leave us a voicemail at 206-338-0793.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Gil Kane Cover of the Month: Marvel Classics Comics #14

Here's one of my favourite Gil Kane covers from the 70s, buried in the relatively obscure Marvel Classics Comics. It has all you could ask for in terms of a Kane cover, plenty of alien destruction and plenty of nostrils. The War of the Worlds seems like a perfect match for Kane, and his tripod design is truly spetacular. My one beef with it is that the gentleman ensnared by the tripod's tentacle appears to be enjoying the ride. I swear that I've seen that pose somewhere before. Captain Marvel? Morbius? Anyhow, it's a powerful cover as it truly capture the sense of dread and panic that is key to Wells' story. I like Cockrum's inking on Kane, he's a good fit.