Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Single Issue Hall of Fame: Detective Comics #483

As we all know, Dollar Comics are awesome. This one, however, is one of the awesomest. First of all, there's a gorgeous two-panel cover by Jose Garcia-Lopez cover. The lead story, "The Curse of Crime Alley" is very strong, with artwork by the team of Don Newton and Dan Adkins. In fact, I like the artwork so much, that I have a page of it hanging in a frame on a wall in my TV room. There are a few more treats between the covers, including a Ditko drawn Demon story and a real Oddball classic entitled "Gotham's Great Kangaroo Race", with artwork by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin. It must have been one of Dillin's final jobs. It is fitting that such the man who pencilled many a crazy Blackhawk and JLA story still got selected for the nutty stuff. Grab this book - you will love it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Loves Me Some: Star Wars - Heir to the Empire

I grew up a Star Wars fan, but never really followed much of the expanded universe stuff. I did read the three Timothy Zahn books back in the 90s, when I was an undergrad and looking for a fun distraction. Now that my children are showing a real interested in the Star Wars films, I've been keeping my eye out for affordable comics books to give them when they reach the appropriate age. I had never read any of the comic adaptations of the Zahn trilogy, so I was happy to find these at less than a buck a book. The story remains quite strong, and I think Mike Baron's script gives it room to breathe. There are a lot of characters and subplots to fit in, and I think he did an admirable job. What really blew my mind, though, was the artwork by Olivier Vatine and Fred Blanchard. It is highly stylish and incredibly dynamic. Good stuff all around. Dark Horse was obviously very concerned into getting a high quality product into the hands of highly demanding readers.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Charlton Notebook: Charlie Chan #7

The mid-50s was an interesting time at Charlton. They had acquired a series of titles from various publishers and suddenly became something of a publishing empire. One of the 'new' titles at Charlton was Charlie Chan, which arrived via Prize/Crestwood, hence the Simon & Kirby house look to the book. This was the second Charlton issue of this short-lived series, and the final one to feature leftover inventory from Prize/Crestwood. I'm not entirely sure who did the artwork here, as I know that everyone from Dick Briefer to Manny Stallman worked on this series, and it has that over whelming Prize feel to it. The stories are fun, and pretty innovative. It is really too bad that the funnybook world has moved away from the mystery genre. Have a look at the Number One son, Jimmy's face on the cover (which is taken from an inside semi-splash) here. Doesn't it have a Gil Kane look to it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Add It To My Want List: Lone Ranger #24

Some of you may know that I am a pretty big Dell's Lone Ranger series. I started collecting issues with painted covers (blue shirts only please - had to draw the line somewhere) and have slowly amassed more than 50 of them. I have always known that Gold Key had a Lone Ranger series in the 70s, but always assumed that they were reprints. I scanned the GCD cover gallery and noticed some new images and I can only guess that these must have some new material. Even if they don't, those are still new covers so I want them. Badly. I will start my collection of these new covers with issue #24 because I absolutely adore the hot air balloon scene. I'm going to It is completely incongruous with a traditional Lone Ranger tale, but also perfectly in step with the fun tone of the series. I can only guess that George Wilson was responsible for this one, as he was the master of the painted cover at Gold Key during this period.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Steve Ditko Cover of the Week: Showcase #75

Every now and I like to return to a true Ditko classic an look at it with fresh eyes. The funny thing about Ditko's work on the Hawk and the Dove, two characters greatly associated with him, is that he only did three covers in all. There's a lot here that seems pretty offbeat for 1968. To begin with, the lay out (with the multiple panels and framing) is more akin to an anthology book from the 50s than a late 60s superhero book. While's Ditko's bird illustrations may not be 100% zoologically accurate, they are certainly intriguing and quite stirring. All of this is set against a stark, black background. There's so much going on here symbolically, that one almost doesn't notice Hank and Don Hall at the bottom corners, looking like Ditko's interpretation of what a typical Riverdale High student. Ditko's trying to say something important here and, for the most part, it works.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Trade Marks: Omega the Unknown - Classic

I was fortunate enough to find this collection in a 3 for $10 sale (yup, you read that right). I own more than half of the original series in floppies, but had somehow never gotten around to finishing a full run. The concept is quite intriguing and much of what Gerber, along with Mary Skrenes, was doing here was way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, it no longer seems all that fresh. In addition, the need to shoehorn it into the Marvel universe led to an awkward result. Jim Mooney's artwork is solid throughout. He is a terribly underrated storyteller. Gerber's treatment of youth violence may be a bit over the top, but he should be given credit for having the guts to kill off a child. The series had a lot of promise, and manage to rise above a lot of the mid-70s NYC dialogue, but the wrap up in The Defenders was far from satisfying, and gave me a bit of a headache. All in all, it is an enjoyable read, and is historically significant as it informs much of what would eventually become commonplace in funnybooks. This is an attractive trade, but only has the bare minimum in terms of extras. Trade Mark: B

Saturday, September 03, 2011

You've Been Warned: What If? (vol. 2) #37

I like Wolverine, I really do. Hell, my son's name is Logan. What I do not like, however, is the over saturation of the character that occurred in the early 90s. I really enjoyed the original run of What If? back when I was a kid, as most of the stories were wonderful tweaks to Marvel history. So, as a high school student, I was delighted to see that the concept had been relaunched. The problem wih this new incarnation was that it was followed all of the trends of the day. This particular issues springboards from What If? #24, from the previous year, which was not a terribly great story dealing with X-vampires. This one is far worse, as it is really just a series of battles and poor dialogue delivered on splash pages by yet another Liefeld clone, this one know as Marc Pacella. Forgive me if he's gone on to do wonderful things, but the artwork here is horrendous. With stories such as this, I cannot understand how this volume far outlasted its predecessor.