Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lights...Camera...Junk Food For Thought!

Collects Sherlock Holmes: Adventure of the Opera Ghost, Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Holmes and selections from The Sherlock Holmes Reader (cover dates 1994-1998).
This was a decent read with (at times) subpar production values. I'll be lenient with the criticism since Tranzfusion is a tiny independent company likely without the resources to hunt for quality sources for their trades. Parts of this book look like they were scanned right from the floppies. Seppio Makinen's artwork is always a treat.

Collects Captain America (Vol. 5) Nos. 43-48 (cover dates December, 2008- May, 2009)
More edge-of-your-seat, suspense-filled greatness by Ed Brubaker. I do have a problem with Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner taking a life in Issue 48. It seems unheroic. Then again, he used to attack the surface world in the '30s, and I am sure that he killed many Nazis or Japs in '40s comic books, so maybe I am off base with my criticism.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: ROAD TO REBORN (Marvel, 2009; Hardcover)
Collects Captain America (Vol. 5) Nos. 49, 50, 600, 601 (cover dates June- September, 2009)
The quality here has dipped, being only good instead of excellent. The whole thing seems like they're just killing time until the Reborn mini-series dropped.
Collects Journey Into Mystery (Vol. 1) Nos. 11-20 (cover dates August, 1953- December, 1954)
While inferior to their peers at EC Comics, these old Atlas Horror titles are a lot of fun. The artwork and writing vary in quality, but there is generally something enjoyable in each story. I am just glad that Marvel has decided to keep collecting these lost classics.
Collects Amazing Spider-Girl Nos. 25-30 (cover dates December, 2008- May, 2009)
Solid and entertaining stuff by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, and Sal Buscema. This title remains a great read and I am glad that it lives on online and eventually in trade.
Collects House of Mystery (Vol. 2) Nos. 6-10 (cover dates December, 2008- April, 2009)
This series doesn't suck, but it isn't my cup of tea, either. I love the original House of Mystery, with the Horror anthology style of storytelling that employs a main character/ narrator ala the Cryptkeeper from EC's Tales From the Crypt. This series falls short in the regard that it has an entire cast that it's trying to build arcs around while interspersing short stories. The only one that even deserves a mention is the one with Bernie Wrightson artwork. The rest of them, while not awful, do not measure up to the original series either. This series seems more like a mediocre cable television series than a comic book. Consider this title dropped, and the first two trades will be available in my next eBay purging.

Collects Avengers (Vol. 1) Nos. 80-88 and Incredible Hulk No. 140 (cover dates September, 1970- June, 1971).
Latter era Silver Age goodness by Roy Thomas and the Buscema brothers. Some of these issues hold up better than others, with the Halloween parade one being the worst of the bunch and the Red-Wolf 'arc' being the best.
POWER PACK CLASSIC VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2009)
Collects Power Pack Nos. 1-10 (cover dates August, 1984- May, 1985)
It's always nice when something that you loved as a child holds up when you revisit it as an adult. Case in point being Power Pack. I loved this at the time, as Louise Simonson's writing had real heart and June Brigman's pencils were wonderful. Fast forward 25 years, and the writing is still superb, but the artwork is just stunning. Not only have Brigman's pencils aged well, but I'd have to say that they were ahead of their time and rank her among my all-time favorite artists. Fill-in penciler Brent Anderson does a respectable take on the Power clan, but it's Brigman's pencils that bring these characters to life. Forget the manga-flavored non-continuity Power Pack mini-series that Marvel churns out these days and go right to the source. With Disney's recent acquisition of Marvel, one can only hope that we see a Pixar animated Power Pack movie based on June Brigman's pencils.
Collects Detective Comics Nos. 469-476, 478, 479 (cover dates May, 1977- October, 1978)
This starts off decent, with writing by Steve Englehart and artwork by Walt Simonson and Al Milgrom, and the kicks into high gear when Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin pick up the pencils and brushes. Len Wein wraps up with the final 3 issues in the book without missing a beat. I am not a huge Batman fan, but if every issue is of this caliber then maybe I will become one. I owned Issue 478 when my Mom bought it for me off the stands up north at some store when we stayed up north at my Grandpa's cottage one summer. The cover, with the lady melting out of her clothes, scared the crap out of me. I tracked down the issue via the Grand Comic Database's cover gallery feature and then went out and got a reader copy for like $3-4. I then did a search of The Trade Paperback List and found out that there was a trade for this arc, which I then acquired. My only gripes with this trade are A) I dislike the thin pulp-y paper that DC uses in trades that are priced the same as Marvel's, which have nicer paper and B) there are no issue covers provided and C) these issues are the re-colored versions from the reprint series Shadow of the Batman. This is a spectacular read otherwise.

ESSENTIAL X-MEN VOL. 9 (Marvel, 2009)
Collects Uncanny X-Men Nos. 244-264 and Uncanny X-Men Annual No. 13 (cover dates May, 1989- Late July, 1990).
OK, time for me to man up: I was wrong. Having read the old X-Men Visionaries: Jim Lee trade years ago, I dismissed this entire era of X-Men as crap. I quit buying the title around maybe Issue 251, maybe earlier, as I disliked the stories circa 1989 and didn't (and still don't) like Marc Silvestri's artwork. Jubilee was, and still is, a horrible character. The Jim Lee stuff that I have seen did not impress me. In black and white Essential format, though, his linework is actually interesting. Dated and somewhat gimmicky, sure, but it definitely doesn't suck as bad as I once thought that it did. I do, however, still detest the Claremont/Lee collaboration that turned Psylocke from a British telepath to an Asian ninja. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Jim Jaaska's artwork in Issue 263 was good, and I have never heard of him before or since. Strange. Chris Claremont is a great writer when read in intervals. I tried plowing through this book a few months back and just stopped. Too repetitive, too many recaps, etc. If you read an issue a day, or every other day, then this stuff is pretty darn good. I remember being a huge Claremont fan in the '80s because of his everlasting sub-plots, and those are available in spades here, almost to the point of madness. Uncanny X-Men hadn't jumped the shark yet, but they were lacing up the ski boots.

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