Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I read comics so that you don't have to.

PROJECT SUPERPOWERS: CHAPTER TWO VOL. 1 (Dynamite, 2010)
Collects Project Superpowers Nos. 0-6 (cover dates June, 2009- January, 2010)
This series presents some good ideas, but they are sure taking their sweet old time to get anywhere. It just feels like a lot of nothing is happening...get on it with it already!


PROJECT SUPERPOWERS: MEET THE BAD GUYS (Dynamite, 2010)
Collects Project Superpowers: Meet the Bad Guys Nos. 1-4 (cover dates August- November, 2009)
Interesting one-shot character sketches. I especially like The Scarab's one-shot (Issue 4).

INDIANA JONES- THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OMNIBUS VOL. 3 (Dark Horse, 2010)
Collects The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones Nos. 25-34 and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Nos. 1-4 (cover dates January, 1985- November, 1989).
I had never read any of these issues before, and they were all pretty enjoyable. Mostly done-in-ones with the occasional 2 or 3 parter, these all flowed pretty well within Indiana Jones canon. The art by Steve Ditko is great, and I was unaware that he even worked on this series until these trades were released.

THE BATMAN CHRONICLES VOL. 10 (DC, 2010)
Collects Batman Nos. 16, 17 and material from Detective Comics Nos. 75-77 and World’s Finest Comics No. 10 (cover dates April/May- July, 1943).
Great reads one and all! I love Golden Age Batman, as these stories are way fun and bleed charm. Alfred debuts here is Issue 16, and is quite a bit different than he would be later on, being an amateur sleuth and all. Also in issue 16 is "The Grade A Crimes", a wonderful story about robbers who double as milkmen. The old tyme-y street lamps and two-color traffic signals also help paint this as a quaint period piece. It's funny how these things would be inserted into retro-flavored stories today to help create atmosphere, but here they are simply contemporary background things. I love it. The Joker, the Robber Baron, and the Penguin are the stars of the rogues gallery this time out.
In Issue 17's "Adventure of the Vitamin Vandals", Batman tangles with a shark. Unlike the 1966 movie, however, he uses a knife rather than a can of shark repellent. The story from World’s Finest Comics No. 10, "The Man With The Camera Eyes" is somewhat contemporary. In the tale, a man uses his photographic memory to memorize documents, written music, etc., which is referred to here as "other people's ideas". In this day and age we use the term intellectual property, but this tale shows the grey areas pertaining to theft and crime, and the perception thereof. That is what it made me think of, at least. Individual mileage may vary.
One interesting thing about these issues is that while there are 'Buy war Bonds' logos on the splash pages of most of the stories, Batman steers clears of politics for the most part. Unlike Timely's heroes (Marvel as they were called back then), Batman does not engage in fisticuffs with the Nazis or the Japanese. I am sorry if I spoiled any of the above stories for you, but comic books that are nearly 70 years old are exempt from spoiler tags.
The restoration on the Detective Comics stories seems crude, especially when compared to the great job that DC did on the core series. I would love to see DC remaster the aforementioned stories, and compile them in nice, chunky hardcovers like Marvel's Omnibus line. My cheap ass can't afford to buy 30 different Archives, plus I like the chronological by release date format of The Chronicles line.

THE BATMAN: TALES OF THE DEMON (DC, 2005 Printing)
Collects Batman Nos. 232, 235, 240, 242-244, Detective Comics Nos. 411, 485, 489, 490 and DC Special Series No. 15 (cover dates May, 1971- May, 1980).
When I was a small child, I loved Batman. I watched re-runs of the '60s TV series, watched the Superfriends cartoons, had the 8" Mego doll, the whole bit. Along the way, I was convinced that Marvel ruled and DC sucked, likely from the influence of others. The occasional glance at the Distinguished Competition's '80s output confirmed this belief. Here is where I officially and publicly rescind my disliking of DC Comics. These stories are every bit as good as what Marvel was doing at the time. Dennis O'Neil crafts some first class stories, and the artwork by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano (among others) is top notch as well.
The thing that I like the most about these issues is that while Batman fights Ra's Al Ghul physically, most of their fighting is a psychological game of cat and mouse and manipulation. It works on so many levels and is so good on all of them.
The only negative thing that i can say about this book is the modern re-coloring, which appears dark and murky. I guess that earlier printings have the original color palette. I wish that I had known that when I picked this up.



X-FACTOR: INVISIBLE WOMAN HAS VANISHED (Marvel, 2010)
Collects X-Factor Nos. 200-203 (cover dates February- May, 2010)
This was okay, but I am done with all of these X-Men offshoots. I haven't really enjoyed the non-Uncanny X-Men stuff as a whole for quite some time, and am going to stick with the flagship title only from here on out. There are just too many comics being put out by other publishers that seem more interesting than this title. I will no longer buy from habit.

SPIDER- GIRL VOL. 12: THE GAMES VILLAINS PLAY (Marvel, 2010)
Collects Spider-Girl Nos. 67-72 (cover dates February- June, 2004)
Marvel has been slowly collecting the original series in these digests. I hope that we can get the remaining 28 issues collected before all is said and done.


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: ATLAS ERA MENACE VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2009)
Collects Menace Nos. 1-11 (cover dates March, 1953- May, 1954)
This was Atlas' (what Marvel was called back then) answer to EC's horror titles. Stan Lee wrote most of these tales, and was assisted in the artwork department by a number of greats: Russ Heath, Joe Maneely, John Romita, Sr., etc. These are all terrific reads about zombies, werewolves, vampires, etc. Fun for the whole family...if you happen to be the Addams Family, that is.



ESSENTIAL X-FACTOR VOL. 3 (Marvel, 2009)
Collects Uncanny X-Men Nos. 242, 243, X-Factor Nos. 36-50 and X-Factor Annual No. 3 (cover dates January, 1989- January, 1990).
Once this gets going, it doesn't stop. The first few issues in this book are fairly clunky reads, but after Louise Simonson finds her footing again, it's a fun ride. The whole Inferno crossover with Uncanny X-Men is good fun, ditto the 6 issue Judgement War arc. The only downside to this book is Walt Simonson's artwork on several of the issues. Yes, that's right, I said it. I am not a fan of his scratchy looking artwork, never have been. He has legions of fans, but I am not one of them.


SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL: WHO KILLED GWEN REILLY? (Marvel, 2010)
Collects Spider-Girl No. 0 and material from Amazing Spider-Man Family Nos. 1-8 and Web of Spider-Man Nos. 1-4 (cover dates October, 1998- March, 2010)
Spider-Girl takes place in an alternate future timeline called MC2 (Marvel Comics 2). Before the marriage (and daughter) of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson was ret-conned out of existence, this was merely a future time line. The stories in Web of Spider-Man deal with May as an infant. The Spider-Girl stories from ASMF feature Tombstone, a Spider-Man villain who debuted in the late '80s. I always thought that he was pretty cool, and that opinion is reaffirmed here.

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