Thursday, October 11, 2007

Captain America's Return and stuff

Alex Ross Captain America
Irv Novick Shield

Marvel has just revealed a new Captain America debuting in January from Brubaker's glaciarly slow paced CAPTAIN AMERICA comic. This one carries a gun and a knife, so it's probably the bloodthirsty retconned alive and trained-assassin Bucky in the threads. But maybe not. As much as I generally like Alex Ross designs, the new Cap's big design change echoes another patriotic hero, the Shield. They say the triangular chest design is in homage to the shape of his first shield. However, I always heard the reason he switched to a round shield after his first adventure was from threat of lawsuit and trademark infringement of the MLJ (Archie) character whose costume it resembled. And when he was revamped when licensed to DC, his costume even went shiny!

Impact Shield

Have to say, Alex Ross does a great Fighting Yank for the upcoming Dynamite series SUPERPOWERS. Of course part of that is it's accurate to the way the character looked and it ranks up there with some of Alex Schomburg's work with the character.
Alex Ross Superpowers

In the "Lying in the Gutters" column at Comicbookresources, we have a copy of an article revealing that Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) is in line for a movie based on the Italian Dylan Dog horror comic. What, Rupert Everett isn't available? See Rupert Everett starred in the movie CEMETARY MAN, based on a novel by the writer of Dylan Dog while Dylan's look is actually based on Rupert Everett. Dylan's comedic side-kick is none other than Groucho Marx, a similarity that had to be toned down in the American reprinting of some issues by Dark Horse Comics a few years back.

It’s the Golden-Age Again

It’s a good time to be a golden-age fan. Doc Savage and the Shadow are being reprinted again, with the original covers and interesting articles and insights to behind the stories. Did you know that overseas in England, the Shadow novels were heavily re-edited and names of the characters and such were changed to give them an England locale? If the story had a really strong or uniquely American flavor, they changed him to the Phantom Sheriff in the Old West! G-8 and the Spider have their facsimile editions regularly coming out, Adventure House still does High Adventure every other month, giving us all of the Captain Zero stories (very excellent by the way), Green Lama and Ki-gor stories. And there are other pulp facsimiles that come out such as SPICY MYSTERY, SUBMARINE STORIES, DON WINSLOW, etc.

DC has had pretty good success with the JSA (even if it’s by killing off various golden-agers and replacing them with legacy characters, not matter how minor a hero). So, other companies seem to be getting on the bandwagon.

First, Marvel is revisiting various of their Timely GA heroes with THE TWELVE by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston. In a nutshell, twelve of Timely’s GA characters get captured by the Nazis near the end of the war and placed in suspended animation for research. The end of the war interrupts things and they are on ice until the present day. Now, they have trouble adapting (some were killer vigilantes after all) and one or two may go bad and not all make it out alive. So it’s basically going “realistic” and making the heroes grim and gritty. Weston’s art is very detailed, but I find he relies on models just a bit too much. It saps his artwork of dynamism and everything tends to look too posed. Couple that with his realistic style errs on making everything mundane, playing up more the ugliness of the human form, it doesn’t go well with superheroes in general unless you ARE going for that grim, ugly, heroes as fascists theme that it seems all superhero comics have turned into. To see samples of the work, you can search on newsarama or go to Weston’s blog and search some of the archives from the summer:

Dynamite has hired Jim Kruegar and Alex Ross, fresh off of JUSTICE to also do a mini with various public domain golden-age heroes. Actually, Ross is only doing promo art, redesigns and covers, so you can stop drooling. The Fighting Yank takes center stage as a man today racked by guilt from something near the end of the War that lead to many of the heroes retiring and such. And he finds out he’s about to die and might have one last chance to change things. It’s a lot of revisionism, the golden-age Daredevil is the Death Defying Devil, Miss Masque is Masquerade, the Face is Mr. Face. The Green Lama at least keeps his name and looks close to his comic incarnation, but gets a complete power overhaul as he’s compared to Dr. Fate (the Lama was a pulp detective with very limited powers per se in the pulps, his radio show and his first round in comics. In his second round, he traded robes for tights and got Superman type physical powers). Again some retire, some die and some go bad. Where is the sense of fun that can be had with these characters?

Well, that might just be with Image and Erik Larsen as they launch something titled ISSUE AFTER NEXT. It’s various creators from today doing stories of public domain characters from the 40’s. Each creator is pretty much left to their own devices, so there’s bound to be a wide range of takes as we see Larsen on Samson, Allred on Madman, among others.

So, there are some interesting looking titles coming out that I have some hope for as being fun. And some that I’m just going to have to adopt a wait and see attitude.

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