Friday, May 29, 2015

Review- ROGUE TROOPER: TALES OF NU-EARTH VOL. 2


ROGUE TROOPER: TALES OF NU-EARTH VOL. 2 (2000 AD, First US Printing, 2013; Softcover)

Collects the Rogue Trooper stories from 2000 A.D. #318-355, 358-392, 401-406, and 2000 A.D. Annual 1983, 1985 (cover dates May 28, 1983- February 23, 1985)

Writers: Gerry Finley-Day, Steve Macmanus, and Ian Rogan
Artists: Cam Kennedy, Brett Ewins, Boluda, Steve Dillon, Robin Smith, and Trevor Goring

Rogue Trooper is a G.I. (Genetic Infantryman) in the Nu-Earth Future War. G.I.s are genetically modified to be able to survive in the toxic wasteland of Nu-Earth. He has the biochips of three of his fallen G.I.s inserted into his equipment, which gives the book a supporting cast. Gunnar (inserted into his gun with a number 2 written on him), Helm (inserted into his helmet with a number 1 written on him), and Bagman (inserted into his backpack with a number 3 written on him) are waiting for Rogue to prove his innocence so that they can return to Milli-Com and become re-gened into new bodies.

This has a serial feeling to it, with Rogue trying to prove his innocence while consistently doing the right thing for his cause even though the Southers would kill him if they could. In that regard it is like a sci-fi version of the 1960s television series Branded.

A few new elements are added to Rogue's abilities, and they are presented in a believable manner. I really enjoyed the tightly structured, fast-paced arcs. The main difference between these arcs and what now passes as arcs in comics is that this was done in mostly 4-page weekly bursts. This really picked up at the end. I enjoyed it so much that I bumped Vol. 3 up the backlog queue and am already reading it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- The covers for for 323, 331, 344, 371, 388, and 392 are included, albeit in black and white. The logic being that only the covers featuring Rogue Trooper on them are presented here. #401 and the 1983, 1984, and 1985 also had Rogue Trooper on the cover, although those have been omitted from this collection.
Linework restoration: Things are generally excellent although there are a few page that seem murky, like the blacks are too heavy. There are a handful of stories that were originally printed in color
Paper stock: Heavyweight uncoated stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback. Has a nice thick band of glue.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick cardstock with a matte coating. Resistant to scuffing, a rarity with this type of finish.
 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review- CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 1


CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 1 (Dark Horse, 2012; Hardcover)

Collects Crime Does Not Pay #22-25 (cover dates July, 1942- January, 1943)

Writers: Woody Hamilton, Dick Wood, and Ivy
Artists: Woody Hamilton, Charles Biro, Harry Lucey, Carl Hubbell, Bob Montana, George Tuska, Richard Norman, Norman Mauer, Alan Mandel, Dick Wood, Bart Tumey, Sam Burlockoff, Dick Briefer, Frank Giacoia, and Dan Barry

Crime Does Not Pay was not only the first crime comic book on the stands but also the highest-selling comic book of it's day with a circulation of over a million copies every month. These early issues are nowhere near the level of quality that the title would soon achieve. Indeed, these early issues have some fumbling around as they find their way, with #22 even featuring a superhero story. The War Eagle makes his first and only appearance here, for reasons seen below.


This series is an anthology of 'true crime' stories, we are treated to criminal acts of all kinds and from different points in time. All of them involve gunplay, and there is almost always the warning at the end of each story that CRIME DOES NOT PAY! I love the old slang and fashions in these Golden Age comics. These old comics are not politically correct by any stretch of the imagination, and I find them to be unintentionally funny because of it.


Prohibition was still fresh on the minds of the country, and stories about John Dillinger and his ilk resonated with the public. Mr. Crime, who goes on to be the host of the series, debuts in #24.


The writing is decent and the artwork is hit or miss. On the art side there are a few greats, seen here before they became greats. This particular volume is for those interested in how one of the defining comic books of the Golden Age got its start. Things will get much better in subsequent volumes.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- There are a few credits in the Table of Contents that conflict with the credits provided on The Grand Comics Database. There is also a one page strip listed in #24 called Conny The Convict which did not appear in the original issue. The GCD is a good tool but it is not perfect.
Linework and Color restoration: Linework is very, very good and the original color palette is faithfully maintained.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock. It has a creamy off-white color, being close to Mint condition pulp paper in appearance while being of sufficient thickness that it feels like 'Archival' quality paper.
Binding: Oversewn Smyth sewn binding. Binding is stiff and the book does not lay flat.
Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Nice faux leather casewrap with die foil stamping. Dustjacket has a decent lamination but is thin. I need to get a roll of Brodart sleeves and embark on the next OCD frontier.
 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review- BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL VOL. 2- KNIGHTQUEST


BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL VOL. 2- KNIGHTQUEST (DC, Second Printing, 2012; Softcover)

Collects Batman #501-508, Catwoman #6, 7, Detective Comics #667-675, Robin #7, and Shadow Of The Bat #19, 20, 24-28 (cover dates October, 1993- June, 1994)

Writers: Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, Doug Moench, and Jo Duffy
Artists: Pencilers- Graham Nolan, Vince Giarrano, Mike Manley, Barry Kitson, Jim Balent, Bret Blevins, and Tom Grummett; Inkers- Scott Hanna, Vince Giarrano, Mike Manley, Eduardo Barreto, Dick Giordano, Bob Wiaceck, John Beatty, Josef Rubinstein, Frank McLaughlin, Robert R. Smith, and Ray Kryssing

Ahh, the '90s. I quit this hobby during the turn of that decade (as 1989 gave way to 1990), but I occasionally popped in a comic shop to see what was shaking. Whenever I peeked into various comics I was appalled by the artwork (see cover image above). The “Image” look was in vogue, and the speculators lapped this stuff up. Buried under this horrid artwork are occasionally good stories, as evidenced by this very book.

The 1990s were !!!TOTALLY EXTREME!!!, and comics always move with the order of the day. Lame old-fashioned Bruce Wayne Batman was out, and in was the new, almost amoral badass replacement Jean Paul Valley Batman. He had psychological damage due to his programming when he was Azrael, only adding to his !!!TOTALLY EXTREME!!! '90s-ness. He even redesigned the costume with !!!TOTALLY EXTREME!!! weapons. This was a new Batman for today, man. I find the macho posturing of 1990s superheroes to be amusing.


The Joker kidnapping Hollywood studio heads and making a movie, The Death Of Batman, was the best arc in the book. Pretty funny stuff there. Both Catwoman and Commissioner Gordon have realized that this is not the Batman that they knew and loved. Other memorable issues were the ones with Mr. Freeze and Clayface, although why even the cops would refer to this third Clayface as Clayface 3 struck me as being dumb. Abattoir and Gunhawk are both '90s to the core, and were enjoyable adversaries in their own way. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed many of these stories, to be honest with you. They are fun, and while the !!!TOTALLY EXTREME!!!, dark and grittiness can get tiresome I enjoyed this book in 2-3 issue doses. The artwork was mostly decent, although there is some that is painfully dated and ugly.

I drink Diet Mountain Dew by the gallon. It is the nectar of the gods.

In typical DC fashion, this book is far from being complete or comprehensive. The entire Knightquest: The Search storyline (Bruce Wayne's quest to heal his back) is omitted, resulting in Bruce Wayne reappearing completely healed “on set” in the final issue in the book with no explanation. The issues omitted are Shadow Of The Bat #21-23, Justice League Task Force #5, 6, and Legends Of The Dark Knight #59-61. Only Robin #7 from that crossover was included in this book. What a joke. (Thanks to rifft for clarifying this to me.)

I already have Volume 3 and hope to read it someday. Stay tuned!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- DC should do more of these complete runs in chunky trade paperbacks. Marvel has been doing this with their Epic-branded line, and I have been buying them all. I am a sucker for complete runs, and even if I am not very interested in the material I tend to pick them up. Think of it as a Blu-Ray box set of a complete series that you will likely never watch...only for comics that you will likely never read.
Linework and Color restoration: Very good overall. While the original color palette is faithfully maintained, it is the gradient shades that come up short. There were gradient shades in the original comics, and the blends here come up short when compared side by side with the original issues. Again, the colors are correct, and I would say that the blends are better than 90% accurate. For DC, this is good enough.
Paper stock: This being a value priced full color phonebook means that by definition it will have cheap paper. The pulp paper here is slightly thicker than the original issues and a tad heavier than what DC usually passes off on folks in their collections of classic material. I can live with it with this page count at this price point.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick waxlike lamination.