Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reviews: Dracula- The Company of Monsters Vol. 1; Creepy Archives Vol. 5; Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze

DRACULA: THE COMPANY OF MONSTERS VOL. 1 (Boom, 2011; softcover)
Collects Dracula: The Company of Monsters Nos. 1-4 (cover dates August- November, 2010)
A rock solid concept by Kurt Busiek (of Avengers, Astro City, Marvels, etc., fame), executed by co-writer Daryl Gregory and Artist Scott Godlewski. Without giving away too much, what would Dracula think of life in the 21st Century? What lengths would a greedy CEO go to for more profit? The answers lie within. I am on board for this series, and so should fans of series like The Astounding Wolf-Man.
Slightly off topic, I have always been a sucker for the classic 'Universal' monsters, i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman/ Werewolves, the Mummy, Creature of the Black Lagoon, and the Phantom of the Opera. These are fantastic concepts that can be interpreted repeatedly and are still great when done right. Comics mirror trends like all other forms of popular culture, and until recently it has been all zombie-mania. Now we are getting a deluge of vampire titles thanks to the Twilight phenomenon. I myself am more of a werewolf guy and am anxiously awaiting the return of that fad, but enjoy seeing all of these Horror concepts returning to prominence and mainstream recognition.
CREEPY ARCHIVES VOL. 5 (Dark Horse, 2010; Hardcover)
Collects Creepy Nos. 21-25 (cover dates July, 1968- February, 1969)
Many Warren Magazine enthusiasts consider this to be the first low point in the Creepy series, with mostly second tier help supplementing reprints from earlier issues of Creepy and Eerie. While Dark Horse has wisely omitted reprinted material from the earlier issues of Creepy, this is not the case with some of these stories that originally were presented in Eerie. I buy all of the Eerie Archives, and I'm sure that most of the other fans do too, so this is a double dip. Conversely, in the Eerie Archives, they'll reprint the stuff that appeared in Eerie as reprints from Creepy which I already have in the Creepy Archives. Confused? Good.
Sadly, the best material in this book is stuff that was reprinted from Eerie, like the Steve Ditko or Gene Colan stuff or two of the collaborations between Writer Archie Goodwin and Artist extraordinaire Dan Adkins, The Day After Doomsday and It That Lurks. I love old Horror stuff like this, as it is second only to EC Comics. There are a few worthwhile artists that contributed original material during this era too, such as Tom Sutton and the legendary Reed Crandall. The rest of these stories are not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but are nowhere close to the greatness achieved on this title earlier on. I am told that the quality picks up in just a few short issues (Volume 6 of the Archives, already gathering dust in my backlog), so I am really looking forward to reading that.
DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE (DC, 2010; softcover)
Collects Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze Nos. 1-8 (cover dates October, 1972- January, 1974)
I am a Marvel zombie in the traditional sense of the word, meaning that if Marvel put it out in the '60-80s, then it must be good. Make Mine Marvel and all that jazz. When DC solicited this trade paperback which reprints the Marvel run and featured work by beloved Bronze Age creators such as Writers Steve Englehart, Tony Isabella and Roy Thomas and Artist Ross Andru, I was in, never mind the fact that I had no previous inclination to pick up a Doc Savage book. For the uninitiated, Doc Savage is a pulp hero from the 1930s, a pre-cursor to the modern day superhero. He is called the Man of Bronze, and that is where my confusion comes in. Is he actually MADE of bronze? He is drawn and colored like he is. He wears a vest with no shirt in the snow and cold. He seems to take a lot of injury and appears to have augmented, or above normal human level, strength. Whatever the case, this was a decent read, especially issues 6-8. They feature a werewolf that looks just like my beloved Werewolf By Night, right down to the ripped green jeans. It's not really him (nearly 40 year old spoiler!!), but he's drawn that way.

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