Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Steve Ditko Cover of the Week: Speedball #4

I never read any Speedball during its initial run. I was in high school and likely thought it looked a little silly and juvenile. I was an idiot. I now look for charm whenever I go comic book shopping. I quite like the series as it does capture some of that Marvel Age magic. This cover is also a real throwback as Ditko seems to combining the work he did for Marvel, DC and even Charlton in the 60s here. Sure, there's a lot going on, but I really like a cover that tells a story. As far as late 80s and early 90s Ditko covers go, this one is a keeper.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Loves Me Some: Tonto

So there I was last night, reading my copy of Lone Ranger's Companion Tonto #17, when it dawned on me. I love this series and I have never talked about it. If you have spoken to me about comics over the years, you'll know that I am a huge fan of Dell's Lone Ranger series and am nearing completion of a run of painted covers. I am also a big fan of the spin-off series starring Tonto. In fact, it may be one of Dell's most consistently great series. Ever. What's so great about it? Well, let's start with the painted covers. As with the Lone Ranger, these beautiful covers are provided by the likes of Ernest Nordi and Don Spaulding. If you think they look great one your computer screen, wait until you hold one of these in your hands. If Dell is guilty of anything, it is that often the interior artwork and storytelling do not measure up to their covers. That is not the case with Tonto as the stories by Paul S. Newman are engaging and the artwork by the great Alberto Giolitti is stunning. If you do not recognize that name, flip through your old issues of Turok. That's the man's artwork. It is a beautiful marriage of detailed pencils and textured inks. I need to put together a full run of Tonto, pronto!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Memoirs of a Bronze Age Baby: Avengers #168

What a great time era for The Avengers. I feel like I hopped aboard at the perfect time as there were some fantastic stories in the 150-200 stretch. I particularly love this one. I sat down to read it again the other night and I was surprised by how many images were permanently burned in my brain. This one is jam packed with heroes as the Guardians of the Galaxy are along for the ride. There are also a ton of cameos; everyone from Two-Gun Kid to Doctor Strange. The tension over leadership styles between Cap and Iron Man was also very believably written by shooter. The best moment, however, is when the team is humiliated by Gyrich due to the lack of security at Avengers mansion. Within a few panels, he becomes the character you love to hate. I just adore it. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Single Issue Hall of Fame: Ghost Rider #70

I recently re-read this one for the first time in 20+ years. This particular stretch of Ghost Rider issues really appealed to me when I was a kid. It has aged quite well, and this particular issue is a standout. Roger Stern borrows a page from Todd Browning and brings some 'freaks' to the Quentin Carnival. The story packs an emotional punch as the carnival's tragic 'Cave Man' Jeremy is a wonderfully fleshed out character. When you're a kid, you don't necessarily track the creators. It's amazing how many of my favourite stories and images from the late 70s and early 80s were drawn by Bob Budiansky. The richly textured panels work wonderfully here, as they truly add some atmosphere to the tale. This is a great one!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Add It To My Want List: Tales of the Unexpected #15

Since chatting about him last week, I've had Ruben Moreira on the brain. I was flipping through my copy of DC Showcase Presents: Tales of the Unexpected Vol. 1 last night and I spotted a cover that I had never taken note of before. Even through the murky black and white reproduction, I could tell that it was a stunner. I have always been intrigued by the Sargasso Sea, so it's very cool to see the concept used for a 50s sci-fi cover. I found a colour image online and was even more impressed with this moody cover as it uses a wash. I'm not sure if Moreira did this himself or if he employed the tales of Jack Adler. In either case, it's an eye catcher. The stories themselves are also very solid, with artwork by both Jack Kirby and Mort Meskin among others. I'm normally quite happy to have everything in a inexpensive collection, but I really, really, really want to own this book for the cover.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Seduction of the Indifferent Podcast - Episode 2

Hey everyone. Here's the second test run of the show I'm contemplating. I've actually really been enjoying talking about funnybooks and not just writing about them. I'm thinking that I may stick with this one a semi-regular basis and have guests on to discuss a variety of topics. If that happens, I'll set it up with a libsyn account and get it on iTunes.

I'd love to know what you think.

SOTI Podcast - Episode 2

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Trade Marks: Bomb Run & Other Stories

Yes, these stories have been reprinted elsewhere. Yes, $30 is still $30 and may seem like a lot to pay for black and white reprints. Here's the thing, though. John Severin is one of the greatest comic book artists of all times. This book collects so many wonderful stories that I think $100 would be a bargain (of course, I'm saying all of this after buying it for $20). The team of Kurtzman, Severin and Elder is as strong a team as you'll find and they gelled together perfectly in the war genre. There are some powerful stories in this collection, but it is also sprinkled with humour and wonderful characterizations. I feel as though Severin's illustrations are well suited to a black and white reproduction. While I'd love to see Marie Severin's wonderful colours, I'll happily forgo the colour if it keeps the price tag reasonable. This is an essential collection and will look great on anyone's shelf. Next stop for me might be the Aces High collection for some George Evans aerial artwork. Trade Mark: A

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gil Kane Cover of the Month: Supernatural Thrillers #6

Here's a Gil Kane Marvel cover from the 70s that you might not have seen. Breaking up a string of Living Mummy covers was this issue, featuring The Headless Horsemen. I see this one far less often than I see other issues from this series and I am not sure why. It's a terrific cover featuring an incredible sense of design and motion. I like Ernie Chan's inks here, as he adds some nice texture, especially to the skull. The skeletal body contrasts beautifully with the cloak and I really like the full moon in the background. I'm not sure that I love the greenish hue on the horse, but it is rather unique. The eyes and snorting nostrils are what seal the deal for me. This is a lesser known, but tremendous Kane cover.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seduction of the Indifferent - The Podcast!

Hey everyone. I've decided to give a SOTI podcast a shot, as a companion piece to the blog, as a companion piece to the blog.

I hope the link works (it's to a free hosting service - I may switch to libsyn if I keep this going, but this is really just a test). You can either listen directly or download to your drive. I won't get an RSS feed going until I decide to stick with it. Have a listen and let me know what you think!

SOTI Podcast - Episode 1

Friday, June 13, 2014

Memoirs of a Bronze Age Baby: Mad #199

I do not know how I got my hands on a copy of this issue. I would have still been only 5 years old during the summer of 1978 and Mad was not part of my regular reading rotation at that point in my life and I can't see my parents buying it for me. That said, I remember reading that first Star Wars parody as well, so I must have had an older neighbour or relative letting me read them. There's some good stuff in this one, including parodies of both The Spy Who Loved Me and What's Happening. I liked those at the time because I was familiar with the source material. Too often, I didn't understand the parodies in Mad or Cracked as I hadn't seen the film or TV show in question. The main reason this particular issue has stuck in my brain 36 years later is the story about punk music. This would have been my first 'exposure' to punk and I was shocked. That panel of the band urinating on their fans at a concert remains etched in my brain. Or should I say 'blecched' in my brain.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hidden Gems: Ms Tree Rock & Roll Summer Special #1

Let's be honest, every single issue of Ms. Tree is a hidden gem, but here's one that may not have hit your radar. Published as a standalone special, this book has a musical focus from start to finish. The main mystery is a decent tale but, as far as Ms. Tree stories go, it is probably no better than average. The issue's final segment is an interest piece as Max Allan Collins reminisces about his time in a garage band that never quite 'made it'. The middle chapter is why I wanted to bring this book to your attention.It is a terrific biography of Bobby Darin and Collins' relationship to his music. It is an incredibly effective piece and showcases how comic books are a wonderful way of telling a wide variety of stories.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Native American Headdress Covers Pt. 2

I'm back with some more examples.

The cover to Captain Marvel Adventures #83 (April, 1948) is a pretty typical cover featuring the Big Red Cheese, as many were designed to build him up as an icon. His 'proud warrior' pose is a bit ridiculous and the cape and headdress seem to be competing for attention. Many covers from the 'Marvel' group of titles feature some sort of Native American motif, but this is the only headdress one I spotted. 

Here's one I actually own. The cover to Dennis the Menace #91 (July, 1967). I can't recall ever reading it, and it's buried somewhere in one of my short boxes labelled 'MISC' (not very wise on my part), but the synopsis on the GCD states "Cowboy Dennis is flustered by a real Indian". Considering that Dennis is not easily flustered, this must be as dramatic as a Dennis the Menace story can get.

What would I ever do without Rex the Wonder Dog. It seems that no matter what topic I choose to discuss, there's often a Rex cover that fits the bill. If you were to read comics in the late 40s and 50s, you would likely think that Native American tribes handed out honorary chiefdoms with abandon. The cover to The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #24 (Nov-Dec, 1955) is actually a handsome Gil Kane cover with bright colours typical of that era of DC/National. Kane's snout-like noses were always a good fit for Rex.

Let's end off with the oldest one I am featuring, the cover to Four Color #112  (July, 1946). In this story, Porky Pig learns that he is a relative of Chief Pigronomo (yes, you read that correctly). There's also a plot to swindle the Native American out of their land. I find it a bit surprising that the story would tackle that theme, but applaud the effort. I may have to track down a copy of this one, but that's a story for another column.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Native American Headdress Covers Pt. 1

Recently, Pharrell Williams was on the receiving end of criticism for posing on the cover of Elle magazine wearing a headdress. The thing is, he isn't the first person to misappropriate a headdress. It has been going on in the funnybook world for decades.

Let's start with Green Arrow from the cover of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #79 (September, 1970). Oliver Queen has always been one to stand up for civil rights and has never shied away from controversy, and yet here he is throwing political correctness to the wind and donning a headdress. Let's not even get into Hal's crucifixion here as we can only deal with one issue at a time.

The Three Stooges were never know for being culturally sensitive, so I knew I'd find a cover like the one to The Three Stooges #20 (1962) before I even began my search. The synopsis on the GCD states that "Disguised as Indians, blundering along, they scare off cattle thieves with "magic" and get a peace treaty signed". Not exactly Dances With Wolves.

Holy inappropriateness Batman! With all of the silly covers DC/National was putting out in the 50s, you just had to know that Batman would be sporting a headdress in at least one of them, and here he is on the cover to Batman #86 (September, 1954). What makes this one worse is that the dynamic duo step into the shows of two native heroes known as  'Man-of-the-Bats' and Robin is known as 'Little Raven'. If you look very closely in one panel of Crisis On Infinite Earths, you'll see that they don't survive. I kid. For the record, Superman also had a very similar cover.

Lucy, you have some explaining to do (sorry, if I typed in phonetically a la Ricky, I'd be just as bad). In particular, what the story behind the pink feathers in your headdress on the cover to The Lucy Show #3 (December, 1963). Like the Stooges, I don't expect much in the way of politically correct humour from Ms. Ball. I do wonder, though, why they chose that rather sultry black and white photo for the top right corner?

More to come later in the week, including headdresses on a pig and a dog!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Add It To My Want List: Four Color #1085

Here are some things I love. I love George Pal's The Time Machine. I love Rod Taylor. I love Alex Toth. With all of that in mind, how on Earth do I not own this book? I would imagine that there is some crossover appeal with this book, so that would drive prices up a little bit but there are generally a ton of early 60s Dells on the market, so scarcity is rarely an issue. I think that I have simply focused my searches in all the wrong directions and never got around to acquiring a copy. I aim to remedy that pronto.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Steve Ditko Cover of the Week: Out of This World #16

Have I discussed all of the Ditko covers from this series? It sure feels like it. They are hard to avoid discussing as they are just so unique and interesting. I think I've stated before that the great thing about Ditko's covers for Charlton, and this series in particular is that he was obviously allowed to do as he pleased. These covers are unlike anything else from that era. The abstract quality of the images and the sheer blackness of the background is a far cry from the clear design and clean lines that one would see on a House of Mystery cover. Both are great, but I am just so impressed that covers such as this one were showing up on spinner racks in the late 50s. It's too bad that tacky 'Free Prizes' banner interferes with the overall impact of this cover. It brings us all back to Earth, unwillingly.

Friday, May 09, 2014

I Loves Me Some Daredevil by Mark Waid

Let's be honest. I love just about anything Daredevil related. I love the Miller stuff, the Brubaker stuff and I even have a lot of love for the Mike Murdock saga. Why single out this recent stretch of stories by Mark Waid? Well, I don't tend to read too many new comics but this stuff came highly recommended and has sucked me in. Waid has always had a talent for characterization. His work on the Flash really established Wally West as an important member of the DCU and his entire supporting cast was nicely fleshed out. His characters seem strong yet flawed. I think the most appropriate word is 'human'. Much of the same takes place here. Matt and Foggy are clearly old friends, but there's a freshness to their relationship. One thing people often overlook during Frank Miller's tenure is the humour that was sprinkled throughout those stories. Waid brings back the humour, not in an overbearing way but in a way that allows Daredevil to be the swashbuckling hero he was in his early days. There is a bit of a revolving door in terms of the art teams, but that does not  detract too much from the impact of the stories. I've read through the first 3 TPBs and I am anxious to get my hands on more.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

You've Been Warned: Wolverine: Logan

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I like Wolverine, I really do. Hell, my son's name is Logan. The thing is, it takes a like of digging through Wolverine-centric crap before you find anything good. I'm sorry to report that this one falls into the category of crap. This three issue miniseries is pure style over substance. I really like the fact that they place Logan in Hiroshima in 1945. That's a great move and becomes an interesting part of his back story. The other parts of the story, however, fall flat. There is a love story here, but it develops at such a breakneck speed that it never allows the reader to feel an emotional attachment. The antagonist is also underdeveloped, with unbelievably coincidental powers and a desire to kill Logan that is not adequately explored. Of course, it all climaxes in an overlong showdown that is poorly executed. I wish people focused more on storytelling and less on posing. Boy, do I sound grumpy today! I know that some people really like Risso's artwork, but it does not do much for me here. Avoid.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Highlighting House Ads: Timely 1941

Here's a terrific ad from the early days of Timely Comics. It's not terribly interesting from a style point of view, but rather as a piece of history. First, note the announcement for the upcoming All-Aces Comics. Never heard of it? Well, nobody ever saw it. I believe that this was the original working title for All-Winners Squad. Also note the 'Imitators Beware' section, which is a stern warning to other publishers cranking out patriotic heroes. Timely is conveniently ignoring the fact that they ripped off MLJ's The Shield. Ain't history fun?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #1

Black Terror

This one caught my eye as a child in the pages of the Overstreet Guide and initial feeling of 'Wow' has never worn off. The perfect example of a costume being far greater than the character.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #2

Batman (Norm Breyfogle version)

I have to include my favourite character. I grew up a child of the Adams/Aparo/Novick era and love the blue & grey, sleek Batman. In many ways, my Batman is the Jim Aparo version. That said, when I first started reading the Breyfogle drawn issues in high school, I fell in love with how he gave the cape a personality of its own.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #3

Union Jack

With apologies to Captain America, The Shield, Captain Canuck and any other hero who tried to incorporate a flag into their costumes, the Union Jack costume is by far the coolest (IMHO). This design jumped out at my as a kid and got me to hand over my dimes and nickels for Invaders comics. It simple, yet perfect.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #4

Spider-Man (Silver and Bronze Age versions)

I'm not going to get into a Ditko vs. Romita debate here but all I can say is that a little bit of my inner child died when the black costume was introduced.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #5

Mon-El (Classic version)

There are a lot of good hero designs within the LOSH, but Mon-El's has always stood out. I really like its overall regal vibe.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #6

Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond - Defenders version)

Of all of the bird-based costumes, Nighthawk's is my favourite. I have always like the wing design and the colour scheme is timeless.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #7

The Avenger (Magazine Enterprises)

Man, do I ever love Bob Powell! This is a great design from the 50s and it bridges the gap between pulpy heroes of the 40s (check out that holster!) and the sleek heroes of the 60s like Daredevil (Alter Hero did a nice homage to this cover with DD) and The Atom. All in all, it really works for me.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #8

Supergirl (Bronze Age)

I don't think I'll have many female costumes on my list, but I just couldn't bump this one. Considering how many different costume ideas were sent into the editors from fans (was that 1969?), I am very, very happy they landed on this one. It's colourful, cute and quite unique. For me, Supergirl died the minute they put a headband on her.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #9

The Fly

This Simon/Kirby creation is the perfect combination of Pulp and Sci-Fi. I dig the colour scheme, the firearm, the goggles and the realistic wings.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #10

Havok (original design)

I first encountered Havok in a Hulk Treasury and just loved his look. I'm not sure if it was great for getting through doorways but it certainly helped Mr. Summers make a grand entrance.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #11


Another, classic and simple choice from me (you'll likely notice that's a theme). The costume suits the character and the character suits the costume. Still looking good all these decades later.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #12

Blonde Phantom

Simple, Sexy and Pulpy. I am not the kind of guy who really goes for GGA but I think Syd Shores' Blonde Phantom design is beyond cool.

Top 12 Favourite Super-Hero Designs

Every year, the Classic Comics group at Comic Book Resources does a top 12 of a specified category. The most recent theme was Super-Hero Designs. I thought I would post my choices here for posterity.

Here's the criteria I used:

1. I gave it all about 5 minutes' thought
2. The design had to be one that immediately caught my attention
3. The design had to be unique, or at least not too derivative
4. In many cases, the design would be more important or even better than the actual character

Top 12 list to follow.

Single Issue Hall of Fame: Star Wars #28

Although I'd love to say that the Star Wars series published by Marvel was indeed Marvelous, it ran pretty hot and cold. I still don't think that Infantino was a good fit, but I have pretty much made piece with his work on the series. This is one of the issues with the great Gene Day working over Infantino breakdowns, and that works quite well. Why do I think this particular issue is such a great one. Well, the title of the story is "Whatever Happened to Jabba the Hut?". Remember those days before Return of the Jedi, when the only version of Jabba that we knew that that whiskered green fellow we met in the Chaykin-drawn adaptation? Well, he returns here and I think I am more of a fan of a mobile Jabba. This is a very small scale story, with Han and Chewie trapped in cave by Jabba's gang. Some terrifying insects pose both a thread and a chance to escape. There is some terrific character building as the camaraderie between our two heroes is evident. The intensity of the climax, and the nastiness of the bugs, is more than you expect from comics of the era. Thrown in some humour and a comeuppance for Mr. Hut (note the single 't' at the time) and you'd got a nice little gem.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Charlton Notebook: Ghostly Haunts #42

Here's a rather strong entry in the field of mid-70s Charlton horror books. The lead story is rather unique, as it features a crossover between Winnie the Witch and the Coffins from Midnight Tales. While Professor Coffin and his niece Arachne have never been favourites of mine (their stories are a bit too silly), it is not every day you sees member of the Charlton Universe interact. The middle story is very strong, with a terrific Twilight Zone ending demonstrating that crime does not pay. It was drawn by Sururi Gumen, an artist better known for his work for Cracked magazine. The finale is a Nicola Cuti/Don Newton collaboration.This one is solid, but nothing spectacular. Newton's artwork is wonderfully moody, but the story is a bit dull. Overall, an above average offering from the fine folks in Derby.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reprint This! The Fly

The Impact line of comics was introduced the summer after I graduate from high school. I read a small handful of them at the time, but for some reason assumed they were targeted at a younger crowd and largely ignored them. As I have aged, I have learned to appreciate the simple things in life. Mike Parobeck's artwork is something that falls beautifully into the category or simple things that I have grown to love. This series is 17 issues (and 1 annual) of high energy Parobeck pencils that work very nicely with the Len Strazewski scripts. The series seems to be going for a 'early Lee/Ditko Spider-Man' vibe and, overall, it works quite well. From an early 90s perspective, it is a nice piece of counter programming, contrasting with the grim and grittiness that was prevalent at the time. I have been finding back issues in the 50 cent bin at a local shop, but I think a simple, affordable trade would look nice on my shelf.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hidden Gems: The All-New Batman: Brave and the Bold #14

I was plowing through a TPB of this newish B&B series I got for my kids and I was absolutely blown away by this particular issue. The original Brave and the Bold is my all-time favourite series and the animated series is pure gold. All members of my family love it. I have always liked the Ragman character and his interactions with Batman here are wonderful. This story centers around Chanukah and writer Sholly Fisch does a superb job of condensing the Chanukah story into a page or two - the perfect way to give a child an introduction to the history of the holiday. In the end, however, the story is about more than a local synagogue. It is about the importance of community and finding value in what is around you. It is a great message, delivered in a very subtle and heartfelt manner. The opening gag with the trio of colour-based foes isn't half bad, either. Don't mistake this for a kid's comic. It is one you will be happy to have in your collection.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Add It To My Want List: World Around Us #35

This is the penultimate issue to this rather intriguing published by Gilberton. I do not own a single issue of World Around Us, but I figure that this is a great place to start. Why? Well, it is about spies so that's pretty cool. It is about spies in 1961, so that's even cooler. What else? Well, how about 6 pages of artwork by the team of Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers? I have seen one sample from this book and, while it may not be the most dynamic art produced by that duo, it is still early 60s Kirby so I'm keen to own it. As a bonus, there's a lot of artwork by the great George Evans, who was near the height of his powers at this time. I also really dig the mixed media cover. All in all, there's more than enough here to get me salivating. If I ever spy a copy of it, I'll be sure to grab it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Gil Kane Cover of the Month: Sgt. Fury #100

If you look at Gil Kane's cover output throughout his career, you'll notice a relative dearth of covers from the war genre. That's not to say he could not produce a solid war cover, but the jobs tended to be assigned to the likes of Joe Kubert and John Severin. I would be interested to hear if Kane enjoyed war stuff or if his preference was to focus on superheroes and westerns. The cover to Sgt. Fury #100 is a terrific example of the inventiveness of Kane's cover design. It has a great 'split' design that we often see above and beneath the water's surface. This time, however, Kane is playing around with time. John Romita makes sure that ever fold in the clothing is accentuated. His inks work very well over Kane here and I'll be sure to keep my eye out for other GK/JR works to feature down the road.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Kids' Corner: Sonic the Hedgehog Archives #0

Truth be told, the last video game I played with any regularity was Contra. I am by no means a gamer and tend to steer clear of any video game adaptations as they tend to be quite weak. I had heard, over the years, that the Sonic comic book was quite good and a 20+ year run for the ongoing series speaks to its popularity. My son is starting to become interested in video games and Sonic, so it seems like a good opportunity to take the comic book series out for a test drive. These early stories are written by Michael Gallagher and drawn by Scott Shaw! My son devoured this volume, and handed it over to me. What did I find? I found a main character who shared traits with Lee/Ditko's Spider-Man, adding clever quips throughout the action sequences. I found a well conceived universe, strong character designs and enough pop culture references to keep a parent happy. Sonic has a bit of attitude but it never gets rude or snarky. The package is great, as four issues are compiled at a decent price and its a good size for keeping on a bookshelf. All in all, it was a lot of fun and I look forward to reading future volumes with my kids.

Monday, April 07, 2014

You've Been Warned: Marvel Presents #8

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I have absolutely no problem with reprints. I want to read as many great comic stories as possible and, if a reprint is the most affordable way to accomplish that goal, so be it. Here's the thing, though. I absolutely hate the bait and switch. During the mid-70s, Marvel had a tough time getting their creators to hand in their work on time, hence the "Dreaded Deadline Doom". I understand. Things happen. What annoys me, however, is when Marvel decided to drop reprint material into the middle of an ongoing series with nary an announcement. If you were to buy this comic on the basis of the cover alone, you'd the that the Silver Surfer was making an appearance with the Guardians. In the future, no less. Cool. Well, that's not quite what happens. It fact, what you get is a lame framing sequence and a partial reprint from Silver Surfer #2. Huh? Would I have been happy with what I got for my three dimes back then? Probably not, especially since Fantasy Masterpieces was just a few years away. Honestly, I'd be fine if it said 'Reprinting a classic" or "An encore presentation", but this stuff really bugs me. I'll be featuring more of this on here down the road.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Exit Stage Left: Atom and Hawkman #45

This is one of only two 15 cent issues of the 'merged' series. If having two former headliners in a single mag was not enough to lure readers, DC commissioned a number of dramatic Joe Kubert covres. It would appear that none of this could save the series. The final issue is a rather typical, loopy science-fiction tale involving microscopic alines and brainwashing. This one ends in a very strange fashion, as Jean Loring appears to be brain damaged, believing herself to be Queen of the aliens. I'm not sure how, or if, this ever got resolved. I have a full run of the Atom series, including the three Showcase issues, and it is one of my favourite sections of my collection. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel a little sad whenever I spot this final issue.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Reprint This! Charlton's Wander

Wander was a very unique little strip, created by Denny O’Neil (as Sergius O’Shaugnessy) and Jim Aparo. Despite that pedigree, not too too many people are aware of its existence as it was buried as a back-up in Cheyenne Kid, perhaps the blandest of all Charlton westerns. Needless to say, Wander was infinitely more entertaining than its lead-in. Why should this one be reprinted? Well, it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to read an ongoing saga about and alien dressed as a cowboy. Did I mention that the alien spoke in pseudo-Shakespearean English? I really find early Aparo art to be quite fascinating, and I enjoy tracking his evolution as an artist. It would be a slim volume, but I would absolutely love to see all of the Wander stories collected in one place.

Please Support the Final Score DVD Release

I don't normally make too many requests on here or push too many side projects, but I would like to draw your attention to a very fun cause started by my good pals at the Gentleman's Guide to Midnite Cinema. They are working with a good friend in the Netherlands to release the 1986 action film Final Score on DVD. There are lots of terrific goodies being offered as prized over at their Indiegogo site.

I ask, as a personal favour, that you head over there to check out the campaign and consider donating whatever you can.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Single Issue Hall of Fame: Power Man & Iron Fist #75

I have likely mentioned it on here before, but it is worth reiterating that Power Man & Iron Fist was one of my favourite series as a child. It was just so different from many of the books I was reading back then. One of the strongest aspects of this series is the bond between Luke and Danny. That relationship is very nicely portrayed in the epic double-sized issue, as it features a nice mix of action and characterization. You get plenty of Danny coming to terms with his past, including a very effective retelling of his origin. There's plenty of humour with some 'fish out of water' bits as Luke does not adapt very smoothly to the customs of K'Un-Lun. On top of all that, there's a terrific Bob Larkin painted cover. Those covers were becoming a rarity in standard format books at Marvel during the early 80s. All in all, it is a solid milestone issue with a strong standalone story. What more could you want?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hidden Gems: Countdown

Attention Robert Altman fans! Yes, Mr. Altman's work has been adapted for the Four Color world. It wasn't The Long Goodbye, nor Quintet but rather this nearly forgotten film starring a super young James Caan and Robert Duvall. It makes you wonder if Francis Ford Coppola was a fan. The film itself is perhaps the least Altmanesque of all Altman films but I have a soft spot for this type of story, and it translates very well to the printed page. Jack Sparling may not be Neal Adams, but I have always found him to be a decent storyteller and his does a good job with the likenesses of the cast members. If you know the film, you know the ending is quite suspenseful and the final few pages here are a real treat. This is a Silver Age (space) oddity that should be scooped up by fans of sci-fi films of the era.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Steve Ditko Cover of the Week: Ghostly Haunts #24

The reason I am posting a black and white image of the original art for this particular cover is because I think it looks so much than the final product from the press in Derby, CT. The garish colour choices made by the folks at Charlton stripped this image of much of its texture. For example, the tire treads are nowhere to be seen on the printed cover and the impact of the car crash is lessened. The choice to go with a day glo green for the ghosts makes him jump off the page. If you look at the fine pencils and ink, I think Ditko was looking for a more subtle look. It is quite a good cover, and is from a time when Ditko was still doing covers for Charlton.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Trade Marks: Bandette - Volume One: Presto!

I am generally reluctant to take on new superhero titles for two reasons. First, most of the 'new' heroes I encounter tend to be based on recycled concepts. The second problem is that many books are so darned serious. Don't get me wrong, I love the Dark Knight Returns as much as anyone, but it seems as though many creators are trying to pay homage to Frank Miller. Enter Bandette, a high spirited young cat burglar who lends a helping had to the local gendarmerie. This is no origin story, as we're plunked into the middle of Bandette's day to day adventures. Writer Paul Tobin does a nice job mixing action with humour but it is Colleen Coover's wonderfully retro artwork that won me over, especially the way she makes the streets of Paris an important character. While it may be a little light on dramatic tension, if you are looking for a fun and charming series, this may be the ticket. Extras include a fascinating look at Coover's process from sketch to finished page. Trade Mark: A-