Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reviews: Untouchable Vol. 1; Batman & Robin- Batman Vs. Robin; Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 8

UNTOUCHABLE VOL. 1 (Dynamite, 2010, softcover original graphic novel)

This is the format of the future, kids, at least as far as hard copy comics go. A beefed-up 'prestige format' from the days of yore, this is like a 1/3 trade on nice paper with a cardstock cover. Radical does the same thing, offering 50+ pages of story, in this case $5.99 MSRP. When you compare that to DC's 20 pages for $2.99 and Marvel's 22 pages for $3.99, you can begin to see where this is going. Plus, titles tend to have diminishing returns. If this were a 5 or 6 issues mini-series it might not make it, but people are more willing to stick around for 3 bi-monthly books like this.

Mike Carey and Samit Basu deliver an Indian (no, not Native American) flavored tale with a creature that reminds me of the Nabu from Avatar. Ashok Bhadana's artwork is unbelievably gorgeous. The hybrid of pencils and computer "painting" give this a lush, detailed look and feel. The story works and I want to read the rest of it. I'm not sure if I will trade wait or not, though. Bluewater has been cancelling many of the titles that I have been trade-waiting on (the second Vincent Price Presents trade, Black Scorpion), so I am re-thinking my format preferences for the smaller publishers.

BATMAN & ROBIN: BATMAN VS. ROBIN (DC, 2010, hardcover)

Collects Batman & Robin Nos. 7-12 (cover dates March- July, 2010)

Issues 7-9 were Blackest Night tie-ins and were not done by the regular creative team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly, so the quality was way down. Thankfully, things picked way back up with Issue 10. I am not reading all of these various Batman titles and tie-ins about the disappearance of Bruce Wayne through the ages, but I was able to follow this well enough. This ends on one helluva cliffhanger, and Volume 3 hardcover is featured in this month's Previews, so I guess that I am on board.

Terror Inc. Nos. 1-4, 8 (Marvel, cover dates July, 1992- February, 1993)

I will read almost anything if it is cheap or free, in this case these issues which I found in the .10 box at Big Ben's Comix Oasis in Allen Park, MI. They were blowing out the .50 box back issues for .10 a piece, thousands of them. I spent three hours in there one day after work, piecing together an entire run of Nightmask in F/NM and nice chunks of the '90s Morbius The Living Vampire series, among other treasures. I had never even heard of this title, but for .10, who cares? I grabbed what was there.

The basic concept of the series is that Terror, a bounty hunter whose origin is not revealed in any of these issues, somehow can use the body parts of other people and gain their abilities and memories, i.e. an Olympic runner's legs help him run fast, etc. This is black humor big time, filled with gore and an air of '90s "extreme"-ness. Amusing for a dime, but at full cover price...probably not. The artwork is typical '90s scratchy garbage. I like looking at old ads and checklists in these back issues. I was staggered by how many crappy titles Marvel produced back then. Then again, I am staggered by the amount of crappy titles that Marvel produces today. The more things change...   I look forward to reading today's "lost" masterpieces out of some .10 box in 2030.

CLASSIC G.I. JOE VOL. 8 (IDW, 2010, softcover)

Collects G. I. Joe: A Real American Hero Nos. 71-80 (cover dates May- Late November, 1988)

I had already abandoned ship when these issues were originally released, so this was all-new to me. The linework and restoration are spotty throughout the book. Most of it looks fine, but there are some pages that you can tell were not re-colored by "hand". All comics are colored on computers these days, including collected editions like this. The colorist matches the original color palette as closely as possible, and there are two methods to doing this. One is by hand, very time consuming but very nice, and the other is to let the computer fill in the shapes, which often obliterates linework. This is the case here. Also, some of these issues were scanned in poor resolution, with pixelated linework being the result. While nowhere near as bad as Volume 6 or 7 (or some of the later forthcoming), it still annoys the ***t out of me because I know that this is laziness and not the limits of technology. Every other company has long since learned how to collect Classic (read: pre-digital file) material properly, so why can't IDW?

The stories are fun, action-packed, never a dull moment fare. Writer Larry Hama is a genius with these characters, even making the mandated insertion of new characters and vehicles (toys) seem plausible. Marshall Rogers (of '70s Batman fame) even alternates artwork duties with Joe stalwart Rod Whigham.

This book smells fantastic, with it's toxic yet pleasing aroma undoubtedly being the result of that magical Korean printing. It smells much like the Chinese printing, which I have characterized in the past as such: The result of asbestos tiles, lead paint chips, and mercury from recalled thermometers. The Korean printing has one extra delightful ingredient, though: the tears of the children forced to make these books in sweatshop conditions. It's funny how in these issues Roadblock bashes a motorist who doesn't drive an American vehicle, and there are a few other pro-American references in this title, and now these things are printed in Korea.

1 comment:

  1. At least it smells good. Maybe you should bottle that.