MARVEL MASTERWORKS: ATLAS ERA JUNGLE ADVENTURE VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2009 ; Hardcover)
Collects Lorna, The Jungle Queen Nos. 1-5 and Lorna, The Jungle Girl Nos. 6-9 (cover dates July, 1953- September, 1954) and the “Loona” Lorna spoof story from Riot No. 6 (cover date June, 1956).
Blame it on Sheena. I passed on this when it was originally solicited because I couldn't care less about Jungle comics. Then I found a copy of Devil's Due Golden Age Sheena Vol. 2 trade paperback in a $5 box at my local comic shop. Months and months went by, and I read it. I was completely blown away, so much so that I tracked down Vol. 1 and then grabbed this book.
This is superb! Don Rico's writing is excellent, if somewhat offensive to 21st Century sensibilities. Sexism and unflattering portrayals of minorities abound, but this was the 1950s. Werner Roth does the artwork on all of the Lorna stories, and I was shocked by the quality of his artwork. I was unimpressed on his run on The X-Men during the '60s, but here he is a master. Rich, lush linework is the norm. His jungle scenes and animals are photo realistic, and I love how he crams so much detail into each panel without sacrificing clarity. His page layouts are tightly structured, with 7-9 panels per page.
The writing can be a little formulaic after a while (how many lost lands can there be in one jungle, after all?), but this was a blast to read. Dinosaurs, giant apes, jewel thieves...this stuff rocks. Do yourself a favor and check it out. On the OCD side of things, everything gets two thumbs up: nice paper, sewn binding, superior linework and color restoration, nice aroma...I am ill, but at least I admit it. If loving these things about books is wrong then I don't want to be right.
ASTRO CITY: SHINING STARS (Wildstorm/DC, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Astro City: Astra Nos. 1, 2, Astro City: Beauty, Astro City: Samaritan and Astro City: Silver Agent Nos. 1, 2 (cover dates September, 2006- September, 2010).
This collects the odds and ends of the Astro City series, an assortment of one-shots and mini-series. These are all character sketches that add to the mythos but do not necessarily function as a cohesive read. Still, it is nice to get all of the odds and ends tied up in collected edition form. The Samaritan one-shot is great, with writer Kurt Buseik coming close to Alan Moore level cleverness...back when Moore was still clever and didn't rely on boobies to be “mature”. The Silver Agent mini-series was excellent, and I love how he was a mailman in his civilian identity. It's about time that a superhero was a mailman. I hope that we see a follow-up to this book sooner than later. The only thing that is frustrating to fans of this series is the wait between “seasons”.
Winnie the Pooh (Disney, 2011)
I took my hatchlings to see this yesterday, and they seemed to like it. For kids weaned on CGI films, this throwback to traditional animation must have seemed archaic. I guess that I liked it well enough, too.