Friday, May 02, 2008

Some Golden-Age Tales & More

Blogs of Note:
If you want to check out some golden-age action, go to: Nedor-a-Day Nedor is the company that gave the world heroes like the Fighting Yank, Black Terror, and Miss Masque in the comics and the Phantom Detective, Black Bat, and Captain Future in the pulps among many others (and before any correct me, the Phantom Detective did appear in the comics and there was a different character called Captain Future in the comics as well). A little forewarning, while Nedor is also called Better, their stories rarely lived up to that moniker or quite the high quality the Schomburg covers promised.

Bob Fujitani has become a favorite golden-age artist of mine. I don’t know of any characters he created, but he was a highly polished artist whose style seemed to have a natural bent for the macabre and grisly and so he was a natural for illustrating the best Hangman stories as well as working on Catman, Dollman, the Zebra. I’ve long wanted to read a Zebra story and TWO blogs have reprinted a story each and each is done by Fujitani. The art is excellent, but the stories are definitely on the bizarre side with a pair of very memorable villains. They make the Hangman stories seem tame by comparison. They raise the Zebra’s rep as a hero in my regard, just knowing he had those types to have to contend with. Just check logic at the door.
Zebra 1
Zebra 2

The Handyman of Timbuctoo

I keep finding little jewels at Barnacle Press ( This week it has been an early aviation/adventure strip Flying to Fame from 1928 and The Handy Man from Timbuctoo.

The Handy Man seems to be a bit of a do-gooder, setting right minor wrongs and such. He also seems to suffer from hypertrichosis, a condition that causes a person to grow excessive hair over their bodies looking like someone from a Lon Chaney, Jr. movie. In addition to his distinctive look, he carries a mace. Accompanying him is his incredible tiger. The tiger doesn’t talk, but his tame demeanor along with acting both human and catlike as the situations demand echoes his descendants Tawky Tawny and Hobbes.

Comics of the Week:

DC Universe
#0: Interesting, in the narrator's memory of events, there's a panel of the Crisis that was from the symbolic cover of the final issue but the scene never actually happens in the book. As far as the supposed return of Barry Allen, I’d laugh out loud if the character proved to be some other character such as Johnny Quick. The book leads you to believe it’s Barry, but it’s not like he’s actually shown on panel. Otherwise, the book is just a set up for various story arcs and crossover storylines. Most of it’s kind of confusing if you don’t follow the individual books such as the Green Lantern pages. The Perez Superman-Legion seems like the best bet for an enjoyable story.

Green Lama #1 (from AC Comics): Give the writer props, he's striving to tell a more intellectual story full of allegory, nature of reality and a host of minor characters (AC’s Fem Force and Captain Paragon as well as golden-age heroes like the crossbow wielding Swift Arrow, Golden Lad, and Atoman). It just does exceed his grasp technically and most of the art is not up to the vast scope of the task either. There is a nice essay in the back about the inspirations fueling the book. Overall, the book has a very personal and raw feeling to it, as it tries to reach for the stars. Maybe if the first issue had been stretched out over two issues, trying not to cram so much, exposition, characters, plots, and concepts into just a single issue and instead allowed it to breathe somewhat and tighten the focus on just a few. It gets across the appreciation the writer has for the character and that feeling of potential that exists in so many characters from the golden-age, that almost anything was possible for them. I wanted to read more Green Lama when I was done and it made me wish I had picked up that Green Lama Archives which I ultimately passed on while I was in the store.

Hercules #1: One of the few times the previews got me to check out a
book, it's not just Hercules but a few of the Argonauts as well including
one of my favorite minor Greek heroes, Meleager. It’s interesting to see Iolaus and Autolycus, both characters on the Kevin Sorbo Hercules tv series. The artwork is just too dark, and as the cover is also, I’m lead to believe it’s somewhere at the separation stage, taking the colored artwork and converting it into files for printing. While Steranko does use a lot of dark colors, his stuff still generally prints better than the cover here. One writing quibble, when Hercules is introducing his group, the proper way to do it is in order they are standing, That way both the people he’s talking to as well as the readers actually know who’s who. If it wasn’t for Atalanta being the sole woman in the group and her name not matching where she was standing, I’d have the characters all mixed up.

JSA Classified: Starring Wildcat! While this issue concludes the current storyline, the next issue also stars Wildcat? The solo character stories are nice, and I love Wildcat but with the title name, I was hoping for some tales from the past actually starring the JSA or maybe some team-ups of different members from different incarnations of the teams.Really tired of the bandage wraps on Wildcat's hands. The great thing about his costume is the streamlined simplicity of it.

Challengers of the Unknown Showcase #2: It's the post Kirby stuff. Still looks great and it's hard to beat the price. I had waffled between the Green Lama Archives and this, but considering this book is ALL Challengers and the Archives aren’t even half Green Lama (and I’d read and/or owned several of those that are there already), I decided to go for the much cheaper Showcase. Look forward to reading those stories over time.

Those (not so) Esciting Previews:

Last Blog entry I talked about how previews are used and and not used online. Mainly that it just seems to be several pages taken out of the book without giving any thought if they actually do the job of enticing a would be reader. Instead of taking some random pages building the book up as something that’s a must read and exciting, often they seem to be pages of talking. Showing that the exciting looking previews of Captain Britain and MI 13 was probably more by accident than design, we have ones from The Avengers where not a single superhero appears in costume and in fact it’s mostly of people just sitting around.

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