Sunday, January 27, 2013

COMICS READING FOR DECEMBER: “An interesting experiment”

* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

*****    Watchmen, Miracleman, V For Vendetta
****       From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
***         League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the first two series), Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**           Promethea
*              LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD  (or lower)   any of his non-comics stuff
1. -5. Total Eclipse #1-5 (Eclipse, 1988-89) *
Writer: Marv Wolfman/Artists: Bo Hampton & Will Blyberg (interior), Bill Sienkiewicz (cover)
6.-9. Courtney Crumrin And The Coven Of Mystics (Oni Press, 2003) ****
- originally published in Courtney Crumrin And The Coven Of Mystics #-4 (Oni Press, 2002)
Writer/artist: Ted Naifeh
10.-11. DC Comics Presents Batman’s Gotham Noir #1 (DC, 2011) ****
- originally published in Batman: Gotham Noir #1 & Batman #604 (DC, 2001-02)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips (Gotham Noir); Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens (Batman)
12. FF #1 (Marvel, 2013) ***½
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Mike Allred

13. Justice League Of America #159 (DC, 1978) **
Writer: Gerry Conway/Artists: Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin
14. Batman #371 (DC, 1984) *
Writer: Doug Moench/Artists: Don Newton & Alfredo Alcala
15. What If #6 (Marvel, 1977) *½
Writer: Roy Thomas/Artists: Jim Craig, Rick Hoberg & Sam Grainger
16. What If #7 (Marvel, 1978) ½*
Writer: Don Glut/Artists: Rick Hoberg & Sam Grainger (interior), Gil Kane (cover)
It happens like this sometimes. I search for something on eBay, get caught up looking for something else, then...suddenly, my addiction is back. I’m hooked again. And it can take ages to shake it off. eBay is like that for me. This time around it was olearysbooksaustralia, that central NSW second-hand dealer who grabs me with low prices and enticing titles. This time it was a couple of early What If mags that caught my eye. After that, I bid on a lot of stuff but I wound up with four comics in the end. Were they worth the high prices I bid on them (relatively speaking)? No.

I marvel at my sentimental attachment to What If – so many of those late 70s issues were not only poorly written but badly drawn to boot. “What If...The Fantastic Four Had Different Super-powers?” is the intriguing premise of #6 and the cover is quite eye-catching with our universe’s FF fighting their weirdly-different-yet-same doppelgangers. Sadly, Marvel are selling a furphy – the two teams never actually meet in the issue. Instead, this is solely a tale of an alternate FF that sees the FF acquire essentially two stupid new powers (Ben Grimm grows wings, Johnny Storm becomes Collossus) while Sue Storm becomes Mr Fantastic and Reed Richards becomes a...disembodied brain(?!). It’s all very stupid and only adequately illustrated by veteran Jim Craig and Rick Hoberg.

What If #7 (“What If...Someone Else Besides Spider-Man Had Been Bitten By The Radioactive Spider?”) is even worse. Don Glut – who would go on to write an entertaining Avengers 1950s yarn a few issues later – is worse than ordinary here but Rick Hoberg’s art is even worse. It’s Al Milgrom bad. Story-wise, we have three ludicrous plot twists that defy even the elastic rules of What If tales: Flash Thompson becomes Spidey (he dies). Col. John Jameson becomes Spidey (he dies). Betty Brant becomes Spidey (she quits). And they all wear horrible costumes. It’s a messy pile of shite.

I grabbed Batman #371 ‘cos it features the return of Catman who, 20 years later, would become a memorable anti-hero in the Secret Six. Here, he’s a lame Riddler-style crook cracking awful cat puns while trying to off Batman (and failing). Moench channels mid-60s Batman schlock to the worst degree here. A godawful tale.

JLA #159 is memorable for the number of heroes it crams into one tale (the JLA, the JSA and a mind-controlled motley crew featuring Jonah Hex, Viking Prince, Miss Liberty, Black Pirate and Enemy Ace). Of course, the storyline is naff and characterisations (never Gerry Conway’s strong suit to begin with) is minimal. It’s all about the team-up here and it’s still kinda lame. Why was Superman made such a pussy in these comics. He’s a freaking God. Treat him as such. Seeing him lose to a powered up Enemy Ace is a psychedelic hoot, however.

So...despite my less-than-stellar buys this time round, will I return to olearysbooksaustralia? I already have, my friends, I already have. But that’s a tale for another column.

Hit Elizabeth’s on Pitt Street, throw down $60 and buy 20 comics I’d never read before. Maybe discover some new comics worth collecting. That was the plan anyway.
So what did I getz for me moneyz?
17. The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz #1 (Marvel, 2010) *** ¼
Writer: Eric Shanower/Artis: Skottie Young
18. Lori Lovecraft #1 (AV Publications, 2002) **
Writers: Mike Vosburg & Pete Ventrella/Artist: Mike Vosburg
19. Spellgame #1 (Speakeasy Comics, 2005) **¾
Writer: Dan Mishkin/Artists: Ramon Perez (interior), Darwyn Cooke (cover)
20. Proposition Player #1 (Vertigo, 1999) **¾
Writer: Bill Willingham/Artists: Bill Willingham and Paul Guinan (interior), John Bolton (cover)
21. Fade From Blue #1 (Second 2 Some Studios,2002) ***
Writer: Myatt Murphy/Artist: Scott Dalrymple
22. Judo Girl #1 (Alias Enterprises, 2005) DUD
Writer: Terrence Gripe/Artists: Nador Balan, Nick Schley & Sven Dyson (interior), Jimmy Taylor, Mark Brooks and Nadir Balan (covers)
23. Amber Atoms #1 (Image, 2009) ½*
Writer/artist: Kelly Yates
24. Force Majeure: Prairie Bay #1 (Little Rocket Publications, 2002) ½*
Writer: Michael Tierney/Artists: Michael Tierney (interior), Armando Gil (cover)
25. Gara Galaxy #1 (Dead Dog Comics, 2004?) DUD
Writers: Chazz DeMoss & Joel Moen/Artists: Clint Hilinski (interior); Rudy Garza, Mojo & 12:21 (cover)
26. 66 Thousand Miles Per Hour #0 (True Believers Press, 2002) **¾
Writer/artist: Michael Cavallaro
27 T-Bird & Throttle #0 (Viper Comics, 2008) ***¼
Writer: Josh Howard/Artists: Josh Howard, Otis Frampton
28. Non-Humans #1 (Image, 2012) **
Writer: Glen Brunswick/Artist: Whilce Portacio
29. Disavowed #1 (Homage, 2000) **½
Writers: Brandon Choi & Mike Heisler/Arist: Tommy Lee Edwards
30. Johnny Raygun Quarterly #1 (Jetpack Press, 2004) **½
Writer: Rich Woodall/Artist: Matt Talbot
31. iCandy #1 (DC, 2003) **
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artist: Kalman Andrasofszky
32. The Secret History Of D.B. Cooper #1 (Oni Press, 2012) ***½
Writer/artist: Brian Churilla
33. The Nevermen #1 (Dark Horse, 2000) ***½
Writer: Phil Amara/Artist: Guy Davis
34. Pulp Fantastic #1 (Vertigo, 2000) ***½
Writers: Howard Chaykin & David Tischman/Artists: Rick Burchett (interior), Chaykin & Burchett (cover)
35. Kinetic #1 (DC, 2004) ***½
Writer: Kelley Puckett/Artist: Warren Pleece
36. Bad Girls #1 (DC, 2003) ***½
Writer: Steve Vance/Artists: Jennifer Graves (interior), Darwyn Cooke (cover)
Check out my podcast HERE to hear what I had to think about them all.

37. For The Term Of His Natural Life (Greenhouse Publications, 1986) *½
Writer/artist: Peter Foster
Based on the implausible, overwrought 19th century novel by Marcus Clarke, Foster’s adaptation is workmanlike but unremarkable. Really, he doesn’t have much to work with considering what the source material is like.
38. The Return Of The Night Eagle (Pikitia Press, 2012) *
Writer/artist: Peter Foster
This is a typical Australian superhero comic effort. By that I mean, rather lame. Why are Aussie superheroes so lame? Nice art, but Foster can’t write a compelling men-in-tights yarn to save his life.

39.-62. Miracleman #1-24 (Eclipse, 1985-93) *****
Writers: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman/Artists: various
63.-65. Miracleman: Apocrypha #1-3 (Eclipse, 1991-92) ****
Writers/artists: various
Check out my latest podcast HERE to get my thoughts after re-reading this groundbreaking series.
66.-67. Steve Woron’s Betty Page: The 50’s Rage #1-2 (Illustration Studio Publications, 1992-93) ***
Artists: various
68. The Complete Steve Woron Checklist (Illustration Studio Publications, 1990) **
My first Bettie Page T-shirt was a Steve Woron design, so I have a soft spot for his work.
69. Marvel Fanfare #45 (Marvel, 1989) ***
Artists: various
All pin-up issue? I’m a sucker for pin-ups, especially with John Byrne doing the wrap-around cover.
70. Vampirella Pin-Up Special (Harris, 1995) **
Artists: various
The Adam Hughes cover is easily the highlight.

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