Friday, May 16, 2008

Comic Reviews

The Twelve #5: This cover has been about the best of the series so far. It both captures the nature of the Witness (as he is in the comic) as well as the 40's pulp-style cover art. A pity the rest of the comic didn't really work as well. The whole issue felt off to me and most of it seemed to finally denigrate into what I feared this series would be. All the characters were different shades of pathetic, whether they were criminal or just embarrassing.

JMS seems to think that because the characters are actually from the 40's they'd be nostalgic of that time period as our grandparents are. This mistake is what lead writers to portraying Captain America as being so far out of touch with today's society and ultimately killing him as well. Sure, their original time period is long past, but these are all characters that are still young, mostly under 30. They haven't lived all those decades in between. They aren't going to see the past in those rose-colored glasses any more than you pine for last month, and they are still young enough to adapt rather quickly. The nostalgia comes when youth has passed, when your mind follows your body in no longer being able to keep up with younger crowds and things no longer seem as new and fresh.

Coming from being kids in the Great Depression, where most kids didn't go to college and teenagers were treated far more as adults, Captain Wonder wouldn't be thinking of kids in the naivete of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER or FATHER KNOWS BEST. There are many things he'd be shocked by, but kid gangs and violence wouldn't be it. He'd be telling them to grow up and take some responsibility for their lives. At worst, their attitude would reinforce the latent sexist and racist attitudes of his time and think the minorities are just proving they don't belong, wasting the opportunity given them to better themselves. After all, he comes from a time when even Captain America thought little of taking a teen-ager into battle.

Likewise, the Blue Blade sequence seems to be confusing decades as the Blue Blade thinks that the best venue for him in Hollywood is a variety shoe. A variety show? Just a couple of issues the characters were confused even by the concept of a tv show. So, why on Earth would the Blue Blade or his agent even think of something so 50's, 60's, and 70's as a variety show as being the outlet for him? And this is coming from a Hollywood writer! We should be seeing something plausible and hopefully interestingly satirical as some kind of swashbuckling fantasy/super-hero/reality show. The whole thing is so lame, the only purpose I can see for it is so that it just highlights what a pathetic character the Blue Blade really is.

Dynamic Man's rant also makes little sense when taken in the context of the fact he's in the Marvel Universe. No flying cars and such? While the future may not be exactly what he was expecting, it should still be far more than he was prepared for (and the FF has their flying tub, SHIELD does having flying cars) in a future that accepts as fact space aliens, space gods, mythological gods, men in flying armor, fully operational independent robots and androids, as well as real world advances such as super sonic aircraft, putting a man on the moon several times, robotic missions to Mars, everyday tech and power of computers, cell phones, microwave ovens, etc. The MU is far closer to the future he imagined especially when combined with the real world. What would and should shock him are the changes and things that he didn't look for nor expect and what was touched on in earlier issues but what he didn't mention: race relations, women in the workplace, different attitudes towards sexuality and public decorum. Much of the same stuff that should have been off-putting to Captain Wonder in the classroom than the rose-colored notion of teen-agers being "innocent".

The only positive thing from the whole issue was finally plugging a plot hole from the very beginning, that of why didn't Electro's creator contact someone about what happened. Again, though, the decompressed writing and pacing works against it, as this was an obvious question from the very first issue. It's a question that should have been on the detectives of the group's lips almost as soon as they woke up. What took so long in finding them? Yet, the story doesn't address this plot hole until now, months later.

I didn't really care for the origin of the Witness. For one, it takes a non-powered hero and gives him a supernatural origin. But, it also makes him come across as quite a bit of the tool. While it's a bit cliche in that it smacks of DC's Spectre, the Spectre came back as a ghost with actual powers and a mission to punish the guilty. Here, it seems as if it's the Witness that's being punished or tested as he already knows what's going to happen, the question is whether he should allow it. And just letting something bad happen to someone just because they are a bad person, that's not really punishment. A death camp guard getting run over as an old man isn't justice. He's not being made to face his crimes or his sins and account for them.

There might be a larger plan on JMS' part here though. A couple years back, Nighthawk got his own mini-series. Quite an achievement because he had been dead up until then. He was brought back, revealed to have been in a coma, only he came back with eyes that could see evil. Eyes given to him by Mephisto. The Witness' new origin is similar in that he sees visions of bad things happening to people and must seek them out and judge them. Meanwhile, we also have Black Widow who got her powers from the Devil and must hunt down evil and send bad men on their way. As I noted, the Witness' mission doesn't seem too Heaven sent, there's no real sense of justice to it. I'm thinking that both Witness and Black Widow are possibly getting their powers from the same source. Or that they are being set up for as opposing forces in a larger conflict. How would he view her actions if his visions compel him to sit in judgment? Or if he finally decides to save someone, not because they deserved it by their original sins, but out of granting mercy, not wishing to see another person die. Yet they have been condemned by the Widow.

And why is the Fiery Mask just hanging around the mansion? I have a little trouble buying that the government aren't green lighting him, Dynamic Man, Captain Wonder, and Rockman for Avengers or other superteams. Especially when they have the recently arrived Challenger already headlining a team. Seems natural and logical to bring him aboard to help their re-entry into society and form an all new All-Winners Squad. This normally wouldn't be a problem for me, but from the onset, they have chosen to bring up the larger continuity of the Marvel Universe with having the heroes register if they wanted to keep operating as heroes. The Laughing Mask's storyline grows out of that. And yet we also see the Fiery Mask who is immensely powerful and seemingly well adjusted. So, it begs the question why isn't he part of the Avengers. We at least see Dynamic Man joining the FBI. It's a logical extrapolation from the issues the comic itself has raised.

The Laughing Mask plotline also shows up one of the problems I have with the whole heroes registering deal, where it doesn't make sense. A big part of superheroes and especially characters like the Laughing Mask is there is a reason they chose to become masked heroes, operating outside of the Law. If he wanted to work within the structure of the law, he'd have become a cop or agent or been satisfied with being the best darn lawyer he could. Instead he chose to devote himself more to Justice which meant standing outside of the law. He's a hero because he sees where it doesn't work. It's a choice he had already made way back, when he chose to put on a mask and use lethal force when he thought necessary in fighting crime. Thus, it makes no sense that he'd just blindly cooperate by registering AND turning over his guns or even whining about being carried off to jail without even a fight. It's a violation of the basic nature of his archetype. He's turned into a complete sad joke of a character. And technically, any deaths of villains at the hands of the other vigilante heroes of the 40's might also be construed as manslaughter or murder if the hero was already technically breaking the law to begin with.

Weston's realistic styled art doesn't work well at all with Laughing Mask or the Witness. He wants to show the former as being thuggish and the latter as looking tortured. However, with his style being so realistic, the two come off looking like grotesqueries than real people.

Superpowers: Like The Twelve, this issue is much like the past issues. It doesn't deviate any. Characters are randomly introduced, with abilities and powers that didn't have anything to do with them originally. Where The Twelve is a book of characters standing around talking and doing a whole lot of nothing waiting on the plot to happen, Superpowers is all about a barebones plot, a whole lot of stuff happening where nothing really gets explained or makes much sense.

The Phantom: In the same vein that we're a couple of issues into an ongoing storyline, and the quality hasn't slipped. We see a complicated plot grounded in real world issues but with some larger than life villains. The Phantom actually has a case that will test him physically, mentally and emotionally. And he uses all the resources he can muster, using not only his skills but his reputation and legend to fight extremely ruthless foes.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Didn't hate it. But for the most part it didn't grab me either. The characters just don't look or act right to me. The new designs are nowhere close to being as visually exciting as the older looks of half the characters. There was something epic and larger than life about the way that Starlord, Adam Warlock and the Destroyer looked. Part of that is that both Kane and Starlin knew how to design comicbook costumes that worked well with the natural lines of the human body. An all new team with all new characters, it would've worked. Instead, I see characters that once seemed glorious and awe-inspiring and now are made to look and act very mundane.

And right off the bat, we have the bad guys yelling "burn them!" which Rocket Raccoon replies as sounding a bit severe while he and Starlord are mowing them down with their guns and considering that the worshippers could rightfully see them as intruders... hmm, hypocrite much? We even get a death total later on.

Captain Britain and MI 13: Despite my misgivings, I likewise purchased this book. The artists on both this and Guardians do a great job with the story material. Here, we have a little more fidelity to the looks of the characters as Spitfire sports a look a little more in keeping with her classic look than what she wore in the last Invaders series. As much as I don't care for tying in with "Secret Invasion" the book has the luxury of being separated enough in geographic location to stand on its own. You don't really need to know everything going on elsewhere. As the book is taking an "All-Star Squadron" approach in claiming every British superhero being a member, I hope we will be seeing far more than just these few in the future, even if as a Yank I'm sometimes a little confused by the distinctions between England, Great Britain and United Kingdom. I hope maybe we'll see more in the way of other European nations and locales as well. I wonder if my quibble about the killing was shared by the writer, maybe he wasn't expecting the artist to be showing Captain Britain punching the heads off of the Skrulls because he does have the good Captain make a comment to the effect this isn't normal procedure for him.

The Black Knight's way of combatting the curse doesn't really make much sense. As long as he acts shallow and care-free, the curse doesn't work as well regardless of how many sentient beings he has to skewer? Guess we'll see how well that works when he's viewing death up close and personal. If the curse is that problematic, why not go back to his light-sabre sword, which made more sense than carrying around a weapon designed to be maiming if not lethal anyways.

Another disconnect for me was early on. We have a Skrull masquerading as John Lennon. He claims to have been up front to being a Skrull since 1963! The problem with that is that unless Marvel history has changed, it's generally been accepted that while Skrulls have been on earth for some time, it's their first appearance in the FF title that their existance became widely known. Now, originally, that would fit in the time frame, the FF first appeared in comics in 1961. However, thanks to the sliding timeline and such, in terms of the Marvel Universe, it's only been since the late 1990's. The First Line died fighting a truly secret Skrull invasion, and even that is supposed to only pre-date the FF by just a couple of years. So, a Beatles tribute band made up of space aliens in a world that didn't have that many superheroes would be VERY significant to the ongoing history of the Marvel U.

Looks like I'll have to amend my assessment that the previews managed to be exciting by accident though. Reading the issue, it's clear that the pages that showed up online are not just consecutive pages, but pages that prominently featured each of the more colorful characters in action. In other words, someone was doing their homework and took pages that gave a good feel as to not only the art but also who was in the book instead of just the first 6 pages of said book.

Overall, a good first issue even with two strikes going in. Good enough to get the second issue, to give them a little more rope.

Zorro also travels across the ocean. Or rather young Diego does in the flashback scenes as he travels to Spain to learn from a fencing master as well as seeing more of the casual prejudices and evils of the world. To Wagner's credit, he does a great job in making the flashbacks compelling. If anything, young Diego's journey is far more interesting than his adventure as Zorro. Wagner walks a dangerous line though. So far he's managed to balance both positive and negative aspects of the time. Yet, a lot of it is more of a politically correct latter 20th Century view, very simplistic and shallow representations. Those that claim to be civilized are corrupt, those that are of rougher nature (the native tribes, sailors and gypsies) are not. The balance is he does not want to show the world in too cynical a fashion or else one wonders why Diego would bother trying to save it. We want him to be a hero, but there has to be some kind of universal grounding to it, he cannot be too at odds with his time and setting or else you have what feels like a 20th Century Man in Colonial Times. It's an element that I felt ultimately made Sandman Mystery Theatre unconvincing to me. It treated everyone in a too cynical view via hindsight except for the two lead characters making them seem like anachronisms in their own book, a 1980's male in 1930's New York.

Green Arrow/Black Canary continue their adventures across the pond as well. If anything with this storyline, we see a "writing for the trade" mentality that actually seems to manage juggling concerns of the trade vs. the monthly. While the story seems overly long, as if Winnick is filling time between this and whatever DC decides to do next that upsets the status quos, Winnick does have something happen in every single issue. It doesn't just stay in place, marking time. New characters get introduced, each issue tries to end on a bit of a surprise as it pulls something unexpectedly from the left field. Such as the character found in stasis wasn't Connor as we knew it wouldn't be, but definitely didn't expect to see who it did turn out to be. Suddenly, I'm wanting to see the next issue. Part of me is telling me, I'd probably be just as happy reading this in trade, there's not a lot of meat to the individual issues, but they do remain just fun enough and interesting enough to keep plugging away. Especially with so many titles already having been culled from my reading list.

Both Spider-Girl #20 and FX #3 show us a little high-school cheerleader action on the covers. With Spider-girl, it's an inner conflict of the character, just barely touched on as one of several ongoing subplots that get addressed in this issue. The issue delivers on some action as she finds herself between two different hate groups, otherwise it's just setting the ball rolling on some of the upcoming storylines and conflicts. Wayne Osborne, Creator and writer of FX, manages to do something that many more accomplished writers seem to have forgotten. That is, he manages to have mysterious origins for his characters, but still also delivers clues and some back-story instead of just letting the characters be cyphers. And it's delivered clearly without actually being spelled out. Issue 1 introduces us to FX and he gets powers and a super-suit and being a teenager with little to no detective skills or inclinations, he doesn't question it overmuch. We also get a cameo of a mysterious villain and some references to other super-powered heroes. Thus, we automatically have a world that has a past, even if we're not seeing it in much detail. Issue #2 introduces another character with mysteries and powers. It's pretty obvious there's more to them than readily apparent. And we get another mystery villain who turns out to be a henchman of m.v. from issue 1. Issue #3, instead of dragging out the obvious mystery of the girl's powers, the mystery is revealed! Mostly, anyways. Because her back-story gives us more context on the mystery villain's powers and nature such as he's been around for a really long time. And, there seems to be links to the powers of the 3 characters involved. And, this is only the first half of the issue #3 as FX blunders into another situation, which the cover ties into for the 2nd act. Lord Erevos, the villain from issue #1 and the first half of this story has a great look. Here's hoping we haven't seen the last of him nor his ghostly foe.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Reviews of the week

Saw the Iron Man movie last week.

You know, I really enjoyed it. It had a great balance of fun, humor and action. There's character growth for Tony Stark. And it works better here than in the comics. Read the original comics, and Tony Stark is not an unlikeable character. At the time, it wasn't politically incorrect for someone to make weapons or to be a playboy. Stark starts off as a man living the American Dream and he's not a bad guy for doing so. Then when he's captured, critically injured and forced to develop weapons for the enemy, he puts his ingenuity to work and finds a way to overcome his PHYSICAL not MORAL handicap to become a hero. And he continues to do so as he realizes that he could keep helping people before his injured heart eventually catches up to him and kills him. The plot of the boozing, egotistical brilliant man that is injured and discovers enlightenment is basically the plot to Doctor Strange not Iron Man. In recent years, that has changed in the comics. The end result is that Iron Man is pretty much the bastard of the Marvel Universe these days.

It works in the film though. Now, a big part of that is that like Doctor Strange's original origin story, the movie is a single entity, a single story and the needed character growth to make him into a hero is the central story and is resolved in one sitting. In today's serial comics, that type of story is one long, drawn out process. Unless you buy a collected trade, it can take months to get that resolution. Nowadays, such character flaws seem to be actually required in the comics, so you may never get that resolution or you can be sure there will be plenty of back-sliding and bringing it up again every time a writer runs out of ideas. Sorta like poor Henry Pym, where his character flaws have been allowed to grow and over-shadow everything that once made the characters actual heroes. But, movies are different entities from comics and one should expect there to be differences, just as there should be some reasonable faithfulness as well. Plus, extra leeway has to be given when adapting something like Spider-man, Iron Man or X-men to film as you're dealing with characters and stories that are 40 plus years old with hundreds of stories, creators and little revisions here and there over the years. It's a lot of continuity to have to shuffle through to choose what to put up on the screen.

So, it's cool that we see a take on the original gray armor, but the red and gold armor reflects his current armor and none of the dozen or so changes in between. We have Happy Hogan, but he's downplayed in favor of the Jim Rhodes and the possible romance of Pepper Potts. We have SHIELD agents, how cool is that? So, they changed the race of Nick Fury, so what? It's neither here nor there. Personally, as much as I like Samuel L. Jackson, him as Fury is about the same as hiring DeNiro to play a tough guy gangster, or Jack Nicholson to play someone on the edge of being a complete whacko. I don't see the character Nick Fury, I just see a standard variation of Jackson. It is one of those changes that irks a little, because there's no reason an actor of the proper race couldn't have been found to play Fury. Or to call Jackson's character Bridge, Gabriel Jones, or someone new. After all Fury didn't start off as head of SHIELD, he was and really would be best as the ultimate kicking butt agent.

Robert Downey, Jr does a great job as the conflicted Stark. He makes the character that should be an unredeeming jerk come off as being quite affable in many regards. All the little necessary tidbits from the comics are there. Guess it would have been just a little too cutesy to name the SHIELD agent Sitwell. I'm hoping that in the next one, maybe we'll get the Mandarin. There seemed to be quite a few little references. The group the Warlord was part of was called Ten Rings and both he and Stane did wear predominant rings. It'd be cool to see there was a further mastermind behind it all.


American Dream: Basically a female Captain America from Tom Defalco's MC2 universe. I liked it a lot. I couldn't have told you much about the character as she's at best been a sporadic supporting character, serving mostly as backdrop to Spider-Girl for the last several years. Yet DeFalco totally delivers on a 1st issue comic. You're introduced to the characters and told as much as you're needed as you go along. The story is retro in that it's a hero who seems to have everything together as a superhero, but whose personal life has taken a backseat to the heroic one too often. As a superhero, she actually fights crime and isn't above investigating something more street-level such as the disappearance of some immigrants. While there are a pair of criminals that are targeting her because she's part of this world's Avengers, her focus isn't fighting criminals that happen to be targeting her. The writing does have one flaw. Defalco's weakness is dialogue and there's a bit here that too often happened in the past. In a sequence of panels and pages, the action clearly takes only a couple of seconds, but American Dream is able to give a running commentary in those seconds that clearly would take a couple of minutes

Todd Nauck's art actually works for me here. In the past, he always seemed a bit too much of a caricature artist style. He's more straight-forward here, deliving on solid action and character moments. He draws an attractive super-heroine without resorting to cheese-cake shots.

Overall, the comic is what most mainstream superhero comics really should be and Defalco delivers each month with Spider-Girl. It's exciting and suitable for all ages without dumbing down artwork or story for the kids.

Abe Sapian: The artwork is nice and moody, but the story just kinda sits there. I think it's because Abe is great as a supporting character, but he's so introspective that the story only plods along. Maybe it's one that would read better once it's all done. With upcoming budget changes, I may change to getting these in trade format only.

The War that Time Forgot: We're introduced to some old familiar characers and new ones, least I didn't recognize them. And an interesting set-up. The comic ends just when it really gets going. I think I would have liked a little more definition of just who and what the other group on the island are. Just some clue as to the enemy. There are some great bits between the characters as well. Tomahawk has always been a favorite of minor DC characters and I would have loved to have seen a few others: the Golden Gladiator, Silent Knight, Shining Knight, Arak, Star Hawkins, cowboy Johnny Thunder, etc. Mini-series like this are great for re-aquainting some of the lesser seen characters of the DCU and seeing them actually interact inside of continuity. And dinosaurs make great foils. It could be interesting to see how the different characters might view each other as being from different time-periods. A WWII pilot won't necessarily get along with a German from WWI. Meanwhile, he wouldn't bat an eye with a British ally but the Revolutionary War natives on the other hand... I look forward to future issues as some of these characters and the plot get fleshed out.

The Atom: Sad to hear this title is coming to a close as it's consistantly interesting with a likeable hero who is able to be a genius and yet still come across as bit of an everyman. Although, I found this issue confusing almost to the point of non-sensical. Assuming that the next issue with Chronos will actually explain some things. The covers have been wonderful. This one by Ladronn reminds me of 60s-70s science-fiction paperback covers.

Avengers/Invaders: I almost didn't pick this up because I don't really care for Marvel's current status quo or the Avengers. But the art and the Invaders ultimately won me over. Loved the depiction of the Sub-Mariner, looking like someone who relishes his power and ability. The musculature and all echoes a bit of Kane or BWS to me, and really gives him a powerful and noble look. Not as enamored with the Human Torch, looked a little more like lava than flame and it was hard to tell him apart from Toro whereas traditionally, their flaming bodies are not drawn alike. Classically, there's always been differences between Hammond and his latter day namesake Johnny Storm as well. Most of my other quibbles had to do with the story. The title of the book IS Avengers/Invaders, yet the Avengers are not a presence other than cameos. As much as I liked seeing the current Thunderbolts get a smack-down and I'm not a fan of the current Avengers, no combination of Avengers could have been trotted out? Sure, the Avengers' absence helped influence me to actually pick it up, but that's me. I can be objective enough to realize that it's a little misleading, especially to those picking it up and expecting said team.

Unless there is a story-point proving these aren't this Marvel Universe's INVADERS, neither writer nor editor could apparently be bothered to actually refresh themselves on Roy Thomas' series and actually get the basic history of Union Jack and Spitfire correct? 1: Union Jack has powers. He received a variation of the super-soldier serum thus he's no more normal than Captain America. He also had some electrical powers thanks to an encounter with Thor. 2: Spitfire did not need a blood transfusion
because she was shot. She was bit by Baron Blood, her family's hereditary enemy. This isn't like even 20 years ago when getting fine details to a character would mean hunting up an obscure book, one that might be even a little expensive being 30 years old. I was able to verify the Spitfire info by googling and the first website I clicked. WHICH HAPPENS TO BE MARVEL'S SITE! 3 minutes of research tops to check facts. Getting characters' basic origins wrong is completely unprofessional on the part of both writer and editor. This kind of information is increasingly at a writer's fingertips. And a superhero's origin story is hardly nitpicking the details as to whether so and so's eyes are blue or brown, it's the type of stuff you expect a creator to look up first when approaching the job of writing a superhero book.

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.