Tuesday, December 15, 2015

More on the bizarre comics publishing world of John Jacobs

MIKE PINDELL from The Comic Book Attic podcast (highly recommended - go check it out HERE) is a keen fan of John Jacobs' amazing output at Madison Comics in the mid-80s. Here are some of Mike's most recent observations...

I gathered all the John Jacobs comics I own to try to piece together some information. Looks like Doctor Peculiar #1, Far Frontier #1, and Black Atlas #1 were the first three Madison releases and Power Stars became the comic they collapsed everything into eventually.
As I said, I found all my Jacobs comics in one used book store, and I suspected a connection. Indeed, I think I found the missing link while revisiting my copy of Doctor Peculiar #1. I read it so long ago that I must have totally forgotten that my copy was signed specifically to his goddaughter:

So, this Michelle Noel may be the reason why a huge pile of Madison Comics were donated to one store.
I assembled all my Jacobs comics for a group photo:

The three at the bottom of the photo were not published as Madison Comics, but instead by a company named Tami. These issues came out in 1987, showing a small break in time from the last Madison Comics shown; however, the publishing address is the same as Madison’s, denoting no real change but the company name. Tami had been the name of one of the characters in Jacobs’ comics, but I also noticed a new staff person named Tamara listed on the inside cover. Coincidence? Doesn’t seem likely. Inside the issues, the two Partners in Peril comics are more of the same Jacobs madness, while the Julie Winsome Science Fiction Mysteries issue is an unusual release containing all prose (not by Jacobs) with occasional illustrations.
The amusing insight gleaned from these Tami issues is a glimpse of John Jacobs’ other job as “Management Consultant and Trainer”, taken from the back cover of Partners in Peril: 
Also at the same book store were four issues of Ken Landgraf’s New York City Outlaws:

Ken, being a collaborator of Jacobs, let Jacobs do back-up stories in issues #3-5 (including a Doctor Peculiar story in issue 5!). Along with those back-up stories were ads for his other comics, giving me some semblance of a checklist:

In the first photo, there is a listing for Black Atlas #2, a comic I haven’t been able to find any trace of, if it exists. In the second photo, the listings for Champions (Wonderworld Express) and Whispers And Shadows seem to be from other publishers; I’ve found evidence they exist, and I’ll try to track them down. Note the absence of Black Atlas #2 listing in the second photo.
Searching for more connections, I looked through the other smaller press comics that I bought at the same time as all of the above comics. Only one other comic made a somewhat tenuous association: on the inside cover of Ground Zero Bi-monthly #1, under their list of distributors, it says “Tami Distribution, VA.” Madison and Tami were indeed headquartered in Virginia.
Lastly, I found a fun bit of business on the inside front cover of Doctor Peculiar #2. Jacobs attempted to trademark all the characters he created by simply listing all their names, and there are a bunch:

Among these names, you will find some real gems. Some of my favourites are Bloodsnack, Crimepecker, and The Sad Red Dwarf. It also appears that Jacobs had a claim on the name Squirrel Girl years before Marvel’s character appeared, although I certainly wouldn’t bet the farm on Jacobs winning that case…

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dr Peculiar update...ALREADY!

I GOT THIS EMAIL from Mike Pindell from The Comic Book Attic today:

"Enjoyed the further look at Madison Comics. I'm attaching a photo of me holding my copy of Dr Peculiar #2 so you can be assured it does exist. I got it at the same used book store I got my (and your) copy of issue #1. I looked repeatedly over the years for another copy of issue 2 for you to no avail.  
Strangely, I found all my Madison Comics (and I believe I have most of them at this point - not sure) at this store, and many of the titles had multiple copies there. It's almost as if someone involved with the production of these comics unloaded their copies to this used book store in Maryland. There were also copies of Landgraf's New York City Outlaws there, as well as Jacobs and Landgraf's Julie Winsome oddity, all of which I got. It all seems very curious that multiple copies of these books were gathered in one bookstore amidst totally random other comics...
"Upon perusing my other Madison comics just now, I discovered that my Power Stars #2 was signed by Jacobs! I'm attaching a pic of that, too.
"It seems there's a bit of a cult following building here.  I'm going to do a little  research within the Madison comics I have and see if I can come up with any more insight.  I'm also going to go back to that used book store at some point to see if there are any Madison books left and grab them for the folks out there looking for them. 
More info to come, hopefully..."

Okay, Comic Block...WOW me!!!

THIS is my November Comic Block, the last one in my three-month subscription. Let's see what I got...

A Batgirl T-shirt. Hmmmm...I might not wear it in public, but I'll certainly wear this one around the house.
A Thor knock-off key ring? Meh. I'll give that one away if I can. 

Two Star Wars comics? I could not care less.

Well, I'm waiting for the trade to come out, but it's nice to get the first issue to see what this new series is like.

Pacific fucking Rim? Why the fuck would anyone read this? Yeah, I think I'm getting out of Comic Block at just the right time.

But I've just ordered a Horror Block (it was half price on Black Friday) and I have one more Marvel Superhero Block to come.

So I'm still a sucker for these things...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

COMICS READING FOR NOVEMBER: “Fear and loathing in Comics Land”


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

*****     Watchmen, Miracleman, V For Vendetta
****      From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Fashion Beast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (first two series)
***        Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**         Promethea
*           LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD (or lower) any of his non-comics stuff
1. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas (Top Shelf, 2015 ) *****
Writers: Hunter S. Thompson (novel); Troy Little (adaptation)/Artist: Troy Little
See my review HERE.

2. Oi Oi Oi! #6 (Comicoz, 2015) ***
Writers/artists: various
Kudos to Nat Karmichael for putting out another issue of this brave Aussie anthology, but I’m still not sure which audience it’s aiming for. Sales on some of the previous issues have been horrendous, so I hope Nat’s not losing too much money on this venture. This issue is very patchy, but the wrap-around cover by Eevien Tan is gorgeous, and I also enjoyed the sci-fi/horror tale by Ben Michael Byrne. Long-time local creator Dillon Naylor’s autobiographical pieces are the most mature and professional strips in this mag and finish Oi Oi Oi! #6 on a strong note. Where the comic goes from here, though, is another thing.

3. We Stand On Guard #5 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Steve Skroce
4. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #9 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
5. Dark Corridor #4 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer/Artist: Rich Tommaso
A step down from previous issues. Too many pictures and not enough words considering what I’m paying for a single floppy. A cool car chase though.
6. Nailbiter #17 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson

ComicBlock exclusives
7. Heroes Vengeance #1 (Titan, 2015) ***¼
Writers: Seamus Kevin Fahey & Zach Craley/Artist: Rubine
I wasn’t looking forward to this prelude to the new Heroes Reborn series. But hey! It’s got luchadores in it!
8. Lara Croft And The Frozen Omen #1 (Dark Horse, 2015) **
Writer: Corinna Bechko/Artists: Randy Green & Andy Owens (interior); Andy Park (cover)
I just do not care.
9. Back To The Future #1 (IDW, 2015) ***
Writer: Bob Gale, John Barber & Erik Burnham/Artists: Brent Schoonover & Dan Schoening (interiors); Agustin Padilla (Nerd Block cover)
I gave this away to a friend into BTTF, so it wasn’t a complete waste.

10.-25. Satellite Sam #1-15 & Satellite Sam Tijuana Bible (Image, 2013-15) ****
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Howard Chaykin
An odd topic for Mr Fraction to tackle: the early days of TV. Still, this debauched crime noir tale builds to a satisfying climax after a slow start in the first three issues. Chaykin has the time of his life drawing near-naked women in sexy early 1950s lingerie. Really, the series is a cross between Mad Men and Chaykin’s own Black Kiss. Perversely entertaining.

26. The Bus by Paul Kirchner (Futura, 1987) *****
I loved this strip when I first read it in Heavy Metal in the early 80s. Earlier this year, I bought the latest Heavy Metal and found they were reprinting The Bus again. Not surprisingly, it’s easily the best thing in the mag. Kirchner’s surrealist take on the everyman experience enduring the daily bus commute was always entertaining. This strip collection is hard to find (as is the more recent reprinting). I’d given up on finding a copy till a friend randomly sent me a link to a website filled with The Bus strips. Inspired, I went straight to eBay and found this original edition of the book for only $13. Score!

27. Thought Bubble 2015 (Image, 2015) ****
Writers/artists: various
The usual mixed bag you find with an anthology. This one is better than usual thanks to contributions by Farel Dalrymple (one of my favourite indie artists) and Nicholas Gurewitch (from The Perry Bible Fellowship).
28. Prime8: Creation #1 (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2001) *
Writers: Jon B. Cooke & Andrew D. Cooke/Artists: Chris Knowles, George Freeman, Bob Wiacek, Al Milgrom & David A. Roach (interior); Neal Adams (cover)
I got this one from Lone Star Comics because I saw it advertised in an old TwoMorrows mag, plus it had a pro wrestling theme. However, this super-apes/X-Men rip-off sucked big-time. It gave the word “clich├ęd” a bad name.
29. Deathwatch #1 (Harrier Comics, 1987) **
Writer/artist: Art Wetherell
Another comic that I tracked down because I read about it in a fanzine many years ago. It’s an oddball mix of DC-style 70s horror comics with a superhero/sci-fi motif thrown in for good measure. Inoffensive, really. Wetherell’s cartoony artwork is nice.
30. Southern Bastards #12 (Image, 2015) ****½
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
31. Airboy #4 (Image, 2015) ****½
Writer: James Robinson/Artist: Greg Hinkle
A bit of a soft-cock, feel-good ending, but this was still – arguably – the best miniseries of 2015.
32. 8house #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writers: Fil Barlow & Helen Maier/Artist: Fil Barlow
33. Portals #1 (Portals Productions, 2009) *
Writers/artists: various
A short indie anthology with continuing stories. Far too brief to gauge anything from each individual tale, and there was a 60-day wait between chapters. Pointless.
34.-36. Spider-Man Family #4 (Marvel, 2007) ***½
- includes reprints of Amazing Spider-Man #178 (Marvel, 1978) & Mary Jane #1 (Marvel, 2004)
Writers/artists: various
I got this ’cos the main strip co-stars Agents of ATLAS.
37. Empty Chamber Preview Ashcan (Caption Box, 2005) *
Writer: A. David Lewis/Artist: Jason Copland
Lame indie spy shenanigans.
38. Timeless Web Comic Preview (Satyr Play, 2009) **
Writer/artist: Mike Indovina.
39.-40. Jewish Hero Corps #1-2 (Shayach Comics, 2009) *½
Writer: Alan Oirich/Artist: Ron Randall
Arguably the weirdest comic I’ve read in some time. Thrill to the Yiddish superhero exploits of Menorah Man, Dreidel Maidel, Kipa Kid, Matzah Woman and more! Oi vey!
41.-42. In For The Krill #1-2 (Panic Productions, 2008) **½
Writers: Jill Brett & Greg Holfeld/Artist: Greg Holfeld
A crime noir tale involving penguins. Just one problem – most penguins look the same, so it’s hard to tell the characters apart. Oh well...
43. Collier’s #4 (Fantagraphics, 1998) ****
Writer/artist: David Collier
A wonderfully personal tale about a war veteran whose life – with all its flaws, quirks, small victories, petty bigotry and bungling errors – is defined by his actions as a sailor during WW1. This poignant tale is brilliantly observed and illustrated.
44.-47. Captain America: Patriot #1-4 (Marvel, 2010-11) ****
Writer: Karl Kesel/Artist: Mitch Breitweiser
A nicely told tale about how WW2’s Patriot became Captain America after the first two died (well, Steve Rogers didn’t die, but everyone thought he had). It’s a great yarn about a guy who never quite measured up to Cap, trying to fill some big boots at a time when the war is over and the USA’s new enemies aren’t so easily defined. This miniseries is a hidden gem.
48. Invincible Iron Man #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: David Marquez
I scored this free in my Marvel Collector Corps box. There’s a lot of talking in it, which is typical Bendis.
49. Island #4 (Image, 2015) ****
Writers/artists: various
I picked this up to read the latest, long-overdue instalment of Pop Gun War by Farel Dalrymple. Worth every penny.
50. The Tragical Comedy Or Comical Tragedy Of Mr Punch (VG, 1994) ****
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artist: Dave McKean
A new, remastered version of this book has just been released and I asked for a preview copy of it months ago. I’d assumed the publishing company had ignored my request so, when I stumbled across a copy of the original book for only $17 I grabbed it. Then the review copy of the new edition arrived a week later. Damn. It’s great...of course.

51.-55. Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero (Marvel, 2007) ***
- originally published in Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero #1-5 (Marvel, 2007)
This oddball take on My Fair Lady sees Wonder Man reminiscing in the far future about the time – post-Avengers Disassembles – he took a bet to rehabilitate psycho assassin Ladykiller. I think Wonder Man was still a good guy at this stage – to be honest, I’ve lost track of the Avengers over the past 8-9 years. Last I heard he was a kinda villain, but who really knows or cares? In this miniseries he’s kinda good but he does some pretty nasty shit (kidnapping is not nice, y’all). The tale is weird – one part creepy (Wonder Man holds a young woman hostage till she develops Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with him) and one part maudlin (an immortal Wonder Man wandering a barren Earth, while recalling his past). Is it an alternative future we’re looking at? An imaginary tale? I’m not sure. Still, it was nice to see Wonder Man teaming up with The Beast (looking far too furry/cutesy for my liking) and Ms Marvel.

56. Spike: A Dark Place #5 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***
Writer: Victor Gischler/Artists: Paul Lee, Cliff Richards & Andy Owens (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
57.-60. Willow #2-5 (Dark Horse, 2012-13) ***¼
Writer: Jeff Parker/Artists: Brian Ching & Jason Gorder (interior); David Mack (cover)
61.-62. Buffy The Vampire Slayer #16-17 (Dark Horse, 2012-13) ***
Writer: Andrew Chambliss/Artists: Georges Jeanty & Dexter Vines (interior); Phil Noto (cover)
63.-65. Angel & Faith #16-18 (Dark Horse, 2012-13) ***½
Writer: Christos Gage/Artists: Rebekah Isaacs (interior); Steve Morris (cover)
66. Angel & Faith #19 (Dark Horse, 2013) ***¾
Writer: Christos Gage/Artists: Rebekah Isaacs (interior); Steve Morris (cover)
I stopped buying Dark Horse titles (except Mind MGMT) in 2012 and that included all my Buffy-related series. I now get everything sent to me digitally through my job, which saves a shitload of money. But I stopped reading the Buffy-verse titles anyway. Sooooo...now that I’m cleaning up my collection and getting rid of a bunch of comics, I finally got around to reading the last few issues in my to-be-read file so i can sell them on eBay.
Surprise, surprise – I really enjoyed the final Angel & Faith arc in my collection, of which I had three of four issues. I bought the last issue of the arc from Comixology. It was good fun to see Spike return to one of the main series of the Buffy-verse (is that a thing?), even if he did temporarily turn evil near the end of it.
I finished off two miniseries, Spike and Willow, as well. Willow was the better of the two, but it kinda petered out into feel-good bullshit. I’m happy I didn’t waste anymore money on these titles.

67. Moral Ambulance by ohmzutt (self-published, 201?) ***
Vaguely disturbing sketches of various people. Yep, disturbing’s the right word. Look at more of his/her work at instagram.com/explore/tags/zuttsketchbook.

68. Hello Spain! It’s Me! by Marc Conaco III (self-published, 201?) ***
A cute travelogue about Marc’s trip to Spain. Obviously, he loved the place. See more of his pleasant linework at mcthree.co.nz.

69. Catwoman #46 (DC, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Genevieve Valentine/Artists: David Messina and Gaetano Carlucci (interior); Darwyn Cooke & Warner Bros. Animation (Looney Tunes Variant Edition cover)
Bought it for the Darwyn Cooke cover, obviously. Curiously, the brag box states the cover was drawn by J. Bone, but the cover is definitely Cooke (it even has his signature. I know Bone apes Cooke’s art style, but he clearly fooled someone at DC).
70. Flex Mentallo #1 (Vertigo, 1996) ***¾
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Frank Quitely
71. Consumed #1 (Platinum Studios, 2015) DUD
Writer: Asa Shumskas-Tait/Artists: Dennis Budd & Joe Caramagna (interior); Joseph Michael Linsner (cover)
Pointlessly boring romance/horror mash-up. Glad I only paid $2 to read it.
72. Doc Savage #13 (DC, 2011) DUD
Writer: JG Jones/Artists: Qing Ping Mui (interior); JG Jones (cover)
73.-78. Atomic Robo Vol. 1: Atomic Robo And The Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (Red 5 Comics, 2009) ****
- Atomic Robo #1-6 (Red 5 Comics, 2007-09)
I wanted to hate this series, but I read it and really enjoyed it. It’s kinda like Hellboy, but not really.

79. Unmasked #4 (Gestalt, 2015) ****
Writer: Christian Read/Artist: Gary Chaloner
At last! The conclusion to this fantastic super-villain tale. What’s more important: to be anonymous and safe or villainous and constantly in danger? Our two protagonists choose the latter and, let’s just say, the sex is WAAAAAY BETTER when you are a serious outlaw. The ending to this final chapter is shocking yet somewhat not surprising when you’ve seen what came before. No...actually, it was pretty shocking Just a great ending to a great miniseries. Check it out.
80. All Star #1 (NBM, 2014) ***½
Writer: Jesse Lonergan/Artist: Jesse Lonergan
Slice-of-life, small-town high school and baseball fun. I might buy the next issue.
81. Revenge #4 (Image, 2014) *
Writer: Jonathan Ross/Artist: Ian Churchill
Gory, boobs-filled stupidity. So glad I only bought this online at Comixology, so it didn’t cost much. At least I’ve finally read the bloody thing.

82. Jill: Part-Time Lover by Kevin J. Taylor (Amerotica, 2000) **½ 
I first read Taylor’s work in The Girl, a miniseries from the early 1990s that I either found second-hand or, more likely, discovered in the “adult” section at the Adelaide Comic Centre during one of my frequent weekend trips to the big smoke during that period. Of course, I loved the dumb sex scenes but, mostly, I really enjoyed Taylor’s artwork. The guy did (does?) know how to draw beautiful women. When I moved to Sydney in the late 90s and started work at People mag, it wasn’t long before I crossed paths with Mr Taylor’s work again. We used to get catalogues from NBM’s various erotic subsidiaries, including Amerotica. Through work I purchased several of Kev’s graphic novels in the early 2000s and “reviewed” them (aka ran several sexy pix to fill a few pages) in People. And I “inherited” the books once we’d finished with them.
They then sat in my “to-read” pile for over a decade and I finally got around to reading one, Jill, the other day.
Fifteen years later, I still enjoy Taylor’s artwork – especially his pin-ups – but the storylines are pretty fucked up. Jill is a black nympho who decides to become a high-priced hooker to pay the bills (and also because she craves sex all the time). After that set-up, it’s scene after scene of Jill being fucked by men with impossibly large cocks. It’s pretty rough sex and borders on non-consensual at times. I know it’s “all a fantasy”, but Taylor’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. Oh, and of course, AIDS, STDs and condoms don’t exist in this fantasy world either. I think Jill’s biggest crime is that it’s just kinda...boring. The lead character shags a bunch of guys, walks off to meet another client, then shags again. Making dull porno is probably Taylor’s biggest crime – that said, I’m pretty certain Jill isn’t his best yarn by a long shot. I’ll have to check out the other books in my collection before I can give a full appraisal of his work.

83.-86. The Rocketeer: Cargo Of Doom #1-4 (IDW, 2012) ***½
Writer: Mark Waid/Artist: Chris Samnee
87.-90. The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1-4 (IDW, 2013) ***
Writer: Roger Langridge/Artists: J. Bone (interior); Roger Langridge (#1 subscription cover); Walter Simonson (#2-4 regular cover)
91.-94. The Rocketeer & The Spirit: Pulp Friction #1-4 (IDW/DC, 2013) ***
Writer: Mark Waid/Artists: Paul Smith (#1 interior); Loston Wallace & Bob Wiacek (#2 interior); J. Bone (#3-4 interior); Paul Smith (#1-2 cover); J. Bone (#3-4 cover)
I love The Rocketteer but these miniseries are only fair-to-middling – the first series is the best and the team-up with The Spirit is the least satisfying.
95. Groot #6 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Jeff Loveness/Artists: Brian Kesinger (interior); Declan Shalvey (cover)
The final issue and really kinda cool. A feel-good ending and I didn’t even care. 
96. Giant-Size Action Planet Halloween Special (Action Planet, 1998) **¾

Writers/artists: various 


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

*****     Watchmen, Miracleman, V For Vendetta
****      From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Fashion Beast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (first two series)
***        Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**         Promethea
*           LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD (or lower) any of his non-comics stuff

I’VE changed my philosophy about buying “floppies” (single issues) over “trades” (TPBs). You hear about it in a short podcast I did recently. It can be found HERE.
1.-8. Powers #4-11 (Icon, 2010-12) ****
9.-20. Powers Bureau #1-12 (Icon, 2013-14) ****½
21.-25. Powers #1-5 (Icon, 2015- ) ****
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Mike Avon Oeming
Pretty cool catching up on five years of Powers in one hit. If you don’t read Bendis’ back matter, then you can rip through an issue pretty quick. The feeling I got by the end of these issues is that not only being a copy the WORST JOB in Chicago. But being a cop alongside powers detectives Pilgrim, Sunshine and Walker is the WORST JOB in the world. You are almost guaranteed of getting bitchily insulted by Pilgrim or Sunshine or winding up as dead collateral damage when some super-powered guy attacks Walker. Sucks to be a cop in Bendis’ world.
Also the three main protagonists have all spied, betrayed and lied to each other in the 25 issues I’ve read, so I can’t work out why they’re all still friends. Maybe Powers isn’t meant to be read in one massive 25-issue hit ’cos the plot flaws become too obvious.
That said, this is easily one of the best cop/crime/superhero series on the racks right now – and it has been for at least five years.

26. Pizzazz #11 (Marvel, 1978) **½
[Star Wars] Writer: Archie Goodwin/Artists: Walt Simonson & Klaus Janson
[Hey Look] Writer/artist: Harvey Kurtzman
I’d always been fascinated by the ads for this ill-fated teen entertainment mag put out by Marvel in the late 70s. It was the sort-of mag that promised young readers everything, but even as an impressionable child I just KNEW it would never deliver on that promise. Nearly 40 years later, I finally read a copy and I was surprised to find that I was wrong. Oh, sure, there are plenty of horrible features on celebs and “teen” activities clearly written from the perspective of 30-something Jewish New Yorkers, but how could I completely hate a mag that featured classic Stars Wars characters and art by Simonson AND a 1949 reprint of a Kurtzman one-pager? Add an out-of-the-box feature on New York’s legendary CBGBs (which managed to be both cool and uncool, especially when it referred to KISS as a “punk” band) and Pizzazz was a helluva lot better than I imagined.

27.-29. Dark Corridor #1-3 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/Artist: Rich Tommaso
Fucking brilliant film noir-style comics from the creator of The Horror Of Collier County. I’m so glad I picked up this title.
30. 8house #4 (Image, 2015) ****
Writers: Fil Barlow & Helen Maier/Artist: Fil Barlow
Beautiful artwork and an intriguing storyline from Fil, an Australian comics legend of the 1980s. 8house hadn’t caught my interest in previous issues, but I’ll definitely buy the next instalment to see where Fil and Helen take us with this sci-fi fantasy yarn. I may even pick up the previous three issues as well.
31. Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 (BOOM!, 2015) ****
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: LNJ Culbard
Our heroes from the first arc are back and now they’re prisoners of the British Army, being held for “questioning”. So now we have HG Wells-style Martian aliens mashed up with X-Files-like paranoia. Very cool. Sadly, it’s too expensive to keep reading, so I’ll wait for the trade now.

ComicBlock comics for October:
32. Deadpool vs Thanos #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Elmo Bondoc (interior); Tradd Moore & Mat Wilson (cover)
Not a big Deadpool fan but this was kinda funny.
33. Mad Max: Fury Road: Max #1 (Vertigo, 2015) **½
Writers: George Miller, Mark Sexton & Nico Lathouris/Artists: Mark Sexton (interior); Jim Lee (NerdBlock variant cover)
Okay parts, lame in others. I like how this comic works the original Mad Max trilogy into the history of the new film. This miniseries is actually a prequel to Fury Road and it starts strongly, but has a flat ending to the first issue. I see no need to buy the next issue (especially as it’s US$4.99 a copy).
34. Mirror’s Edge: Exordium #1 (Dark Horse, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Christofer Emgard/Artists: Mattias Haggstrom & Robert Sammelin (interior); Robert Sammelin (cover)
Sci-fi meets dystopian future meets parkour. Read worse.
35. Danger Girl: Renegade #1 (IDW, 2015) ***
Writer: Andy Hartnell/Artist: Stephen Molnar (interior); Juan N. Cabal (NerdBlock variant cover)
Nice good girl art by Molnar, but I’m not into Danger Girl.

36. Batman ’66 #27 (DC, 2015)
Writer: Jeff Parker/Artists: Scott Kowalchuk (interior); Michael Allred (cover)
Lucha libre! Bane! Santo! Mil Mascaras!
37. Paper Girls #1 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Cliff Chiang
Vaughan! The 80s! Newspapers! Aliens!
Meh...I’ll wait for the trade.
38. Tokyo Ghost #1 (Image, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Sean Murphy
Seriously fucking good cyberpunk sci-fi yarn. Gruesome and disturbing as hell. I must get the next issue.
39. We Stand On Guard #4 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Steve Skroce
40. Starve #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Brian Wood/Artist ;Danijel Zezelj
A bit of a flat ending to the first arc. I’ll get the next arc as a trade. I sense a theme in my comicbook-collecting from now on.
41. Nailbiter #16 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
42. Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions #6 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: Bob Fingerman
Thus ends the next (and possibly final) arc to this tremendous series. Rob is such a fuck-up. He sure gets a lot of pussy though.
43. Southern Bastards #11 (Image, 2015) ****½
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
44. Copperhead #9 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
45. Groot #5 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Jeff Loveness/Artists: Brian Kesinger (interiors); Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (covers)
46. Secret Identities #7 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writers: Jay Faerber & Brian Joines/Artist: Ilias Kyriazis
Another superhero yarn bites the dust at Image. At least loyal readers got an ending. It had some real promise, but comes across very rushed in this final instalment.
47.-51. Rat God HC (Dark Horse, 2015) ****
- originally published by Rat God #1-5 (Dark Horse, 2015)
Writer/Artist: Richard Corben
I had to buy a copy of this hard-copy book, even though I have digital copies of the original issues. Because you have to have Corben as hard copy to truly appreciate his greatness. Now, this Lovecraftian/Native American mythology mash-up isn’t particularly good – Corben’s weakness has always been his writing – but at age 75 his art is as powerful as ever. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
Pity fans are getting bogged down by the whole self-censorship issue. If Corben wants to eliminate bald vagina from the collected edition, then that’s his right (as long as he wasn’t pressured into it by Dark Horse).
52. A Train Called Love #1 (Dynamite, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artists: Marc Dos Santos (interior); Russ Braun (cover)
Not bad. I’ll wait for the trade now.
53.-58. Outcast Vol. 2: A Vast And Unending Ruin (Image, 2015) ****
- originally published in Outcast #7-12 (Image, 2015)
Writer: Robert Kirkman/Artist Paul Azaceta

59. KFC: The Colonel Of Two Worlds (DC, 2015) *
Writers: Shaine Edwards & Tony Bedard/Artists: Tom Derenick & Trevor Scott (interior); Tom Grummett & Trevor Scott (cover)
An horrific advertorial for KFC that I picked up for free from Comixology.com. An evil Colonel Sanders from Earth-3 comes to Earth-1 and teams up with Captain Cold and The Mirror Master to make bad chicken. Then the good Col. Sanders arrives to kick his arse and tell everyone why KFC makes the best fried chicken on Earth (or Earth-1, that is). The Flash and Green Lantern stand around looking impotent. Arguably the lamest superhero comic of the 21st century.
60. First Wave Special #1 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: Jason Starr/Artist: Phil Winslade (interior); JG Jones (cover)
61. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #8 (Image, 2015) *****
62. Doc Savage #14 (DC, 2011) **½
Writer: JG Jones/Artist: Qing Ping Mui (interior); JG Jones (cover)
63. CBLDF Liberty Annual 2015 (Image, 2015) ***
Writers/artists: various
The usual strident mix of good and not-so-good tales about censorship. Art Spiegelman’s one-pager – which was originally to be published in the Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer-edited “censorship” issue of New Statesman magazine earlier this year before it got dropped due to fears of an Islamic backlash – gets a run here and it’s the clear highlight.
64. Survivors’ Club #1 (Vertigo, 2015) ***¼
Writers: Lauren Beukes & Dale Halvorsen/Artists: Ryan Kelly (interior); Bill Sienkiewicz (cover)
65. The Twilight Children #1 (Vertigo, 2015) *****
Writer: Gilbert Hernandez/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
$4.99 for the first issue? Fuck me! Good thing this is just about the best new comic I’ve read in 2015. Gilbert rises above his usual overrated, mediocre self to deliver a strong script and Darwyn is fucking ON SONG. But damn! $4.99 an issue? Yeah...you guessed it, I’ll wait for the trade.

66.-67. The Fade Out #9-10 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
Now things are getting good.
68.-69. The Spirit #3-4 (Dynamite, 2015) ****½
Writer: Matt Wagner/Artists: Dan Schkade (interior); Eric Powell (cover)
70. All-Star Section Eight #5 (DC, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: John McCrea
71.-72. Invader Zim #3-34 (Oni Press, 2015) **** ½
Writer: Eric Trueheart & Jhonen Vasquez /Artists: Aaron Alexovich & Megan Lawton
This series is finally hitting its stride and reading like an episode of the old series. I genuinely found this issue funny.
73.-74. Revival #33-34 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
75. Agents of Atlas #1 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Tom Taylor/Arists: Steve Pugh (interior); Leonard Kirk & Carlos Cabrera (cover)
I hate Secret Wars, but I loved this one-shot, even if they DID kill off Gorilla Man. I hoping that will be retconned once the series ends.
76. Astro City #28 (Vertigo, 2015) *****
Writer: Kurt Busiek/Artists: Gary Chaloner & Wade Von Grawbdger (interior); Alex Ross (cover)
Chaloner rules!
77. Villains For Hire #0.1 (Marvel, 2012) ***½
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Renato Arlem (interior); Patrick Zircher & Andry Troy (cover)
78.-83. Nevada #1-6 (Vertigo, 1998) ***
Writer: Steve Gerber/Artists: Phil Winslade & Steve Leialoha
A promising comic about a Las Vegas dancer and her pet ostrich battling a mobster with a lava lamp for a head while a bizarre serial killer butchers folk in a big Vegas casino. However, Vertigo falls apart under its trippy pretentiousness by the fourth issue. Pity.
84. Numb (self-published, 2006) ***½
Writer/Artist: Joshua Kemble
A cool tale about a lovelorn author with writer’s block looking for a new muse.
85. Odd Comics (Fanatic Press, 2009) *
Writer: Dan Burke/Artist: Dan Burke (interior); Dave Herring (cover)
Below-par sub-MAD magazine fare.
86. HMM? #1 (Altered Fates Entertainment, 2004) *
Writers/Artists: the usual gang of idiots
More wannabe MAD crap. Poorly printed, too.
87. Wavemakers #1 (Blind Bat Press, 1990) ***
Writers: various/Artists: various (interior); Brad W. Foster (cover)
A solid indie anthology featuring the likes of Foster, Matt Howarth and Bernie Mireault. The best story is a nasty post-apocalypse tale called “Civilized Stuff” by Earl Geier: murder, incest, cannibalism and more nastiness.
88. The Verdict #1 (Eternity Comics, 1987) **
Writer: Martin Powell/Artists: Dean Haspiel (interior); Howard Chaykin (cover)
Below-par superhero comic made slightly better by the Chaykin cover. It appears he’s signed this issue that I possess, so I guess I’ll hang onto it.
89. Ultra Klutz #1 (Onward Comics, 1986) DUD
Writer/Artist: Jeff Nicholson
A woefully horrible Ultraman/Godzilla pastiche. Really shithouse considering I’d heard such good things about this series many years ago.
90. Hi-Horse #3 (self-published, 2002) **
Writers/artists: various
Mixed bag of eclectic work in this patchy anthology. “A Turnip’s Progress”, Andrice Arps’ pastiche of 18th century cartoons (with spirally speech balloons and old-timey language), is easily the pick of the strips.
91. Nameless #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Chris Burnham
92. Dredd: Top Of The World, Ma-Ma (Rebellion, 2012) ****
Writer: Matt Smith/Artists: Henry Flint (interior); Greg Staples (cover)
A free promo comic I received at work promoting the new Dredd movie. Very cool as promos go.
93.-94. Oni Double Feature #4-5 (Oni Press, 1998) ****
“A River In Egypt” – writer/artist/cover: Bill Sienkiewicz (#4-5)
“The Return Of Cheetahman – writer/artist: Mike Allred (#4)
Bacon – writer/artist: Troy Nixey (#4)
“Zombie Kid” – writer/artist/cover: Jim Mahfood (#5)
“Double Feature” – writer/artist: Ed Brubaker (#5)
A great anthology featuring some tremendous contributors.
95. Thought Bubble 2012 (Image, 2012) ****
Writers/Artists: various
96. Marvel October Previews (Marvel, 2015) **½
Writers/Artists: various
Squirrel Girl...Karnak...Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. ... Yeah, I’m buying these trades.
97. Ray Bradbury Comics #1 (Topps, 1993) ***½
Writers/artists: various
Bradbury tales featuring incredible talent like Bill Stout, Antoni Garces, Richard Corben and Al Williamson. Corben’s tale is a modern retelling of Williamson’s original tale, reprinted from E.C. Comics.

AdHouse of fun
98. Supermag by Jim Rugg (AdHouse Books, 2013) ****
99.-100. Pope Hats #3-4 by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books, 2012-15) *****
101. The Secret Voice #1 by Zack Soto (AdHouse Books, 2005) ***½
102. Mort Grim by Doug Fraser (AdHouse Books, 2005) *****
103. UR by Eric Haven (AdHouse Books, 2014) *****
104. Skyscrapers Of The Midwest #4 by Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse Books, 2007) ***¼
105. White Clay by Thomas Herpich (AdHouse Books, 2012) **

Read my blog review of these publications HERE.

The Strange World of John Jacobs
106. Far Frontier #1 (Madison Comics, 1984) unrateable
107.-108. Power Stars #1-2 (Madison Comics, 1985) unrateable

Read my blog review of these publications HERE.

FINDING JOHN JACOBS (More remarkable tales about Black Atlas, Tami, Wolf Angel and the mad genius behind Madison Comics)

IF YOU’VE never read any of John Jacobs' output from Madison Comics in the mid-1980s, then you’ve missed out on some of the most bizarre outsider art ever produced in the comics world.
I first became aware of him through a review by noted comics writer Jan Strnad in The Comics Journal #94 of Dr Peculiar #1. I read and re-read it dozens of times and marvelled at the samples of his primitive pencilled art. My mind tried to absorb a comic that had heavy religious overtones plus a healthy dose of T&A (with a monster rape/cannibal fetish). The reviewer theorised that John Jacobs’ mind must be like a bowl of maggots.
It became my mission to own a copy of Dr Peculiar #1. I eventually did receive a copy 25 years later courtesy of American friend Mike Pindell of the Comic Book Attic podcast fame.
I immediately read it and, yes, it was every bit as weird and perverse as I’d imagined.
I reviewed Dr Peculiar #1 in BP #31 in 2009 and followed it up in two years with an article in BP #32 about Ken Landgraf, the professional inker who’d polished Jacobs’ turd-like pencils.
I also wrote to Jacobs, but never received a response.
Fast forward to last September when I received an email from Chris Pitzer, the publisher at AdHouse Books: “Dann, Greetings! My friends and I have slowly been trying to piece together the Landgraf/Jacobs world as well! Do you have any more insights you’d like to share? For instance, is John Jacobs the same John Jacobs that would do the Power Team comic? It really seems like it given the religious undertones. I’m still on the hunt for a Black Atlas and Dr Peculiar #2 if you should ever have dupes.”
Someone else was interested in John Jacobs? And they were trying to track him down? I had to reply to this guy: “ Hi Chris. I wish I could help you more, but sadly the only info I have about John is what I gleaned from Ken. Apart from that, nothing. John never replied to my letter – he may not even be alive anymore. I have a copy of Dr Peculiar #1 and Power Stars #1&2. While Dr Peculiar #2 was solicited and I've even seen a cover for it online, I've never found an actual issue for sale, so I suspect it was never published.”
An email conversation ensued. Chris wrote: “Dann, thanks so much! While I have owned Dr Peculiar #1 for a year, I’ve yet to read it. I’m sort of ‘saving’ it, I guess? My comic creator pal Jim Rugg said of Jacobs/Landraf: ‘Why create anything else? Wolf Angel is the best thing ever created.’”
Chris asked for John Jacobs’ postal address (which I’d received from Landgraf) plus copies of my zines. He traded me some AdHouse comics. You can read my review of those publications HERE.

TALKING to Chris got me thinking about the other Madison titles I had in my “to-be-read” file. I pulled them out and guess what? They’re just as FUCKED UP as Dr Peculiar #1.

Far Frontier #1 (1984): The magazine-sized comic opens with an EC-style sci-fi/horror cover by Lee Carlson, which would be good if it wasn’t so heavily cross-hatched and was a little less subtle with its monster. Seriously, at first I thought it was a green doormat in the corner of the pic.

The first feature is Astroman (Story & pencils: John Jacobs/Finished art: Ken Landgraf), a Superman knock-off who’s also a Christian. We see Astroman stopping an out-of-control car, then cut to a hooded female assassin breaking into “SeeDee Comics” where she confronts “Manny Phares”, penciller of “The Titanic Teenyboppers”.
The assassin and her robot accomplice carry the protesting penciller into the printing room and drown him in a vat of ink.
Meanwhile, there are various not-so-subtle hints on who’s under the hood. A Seedee Comics nightwatchmen is watching Gone With The Wind during a scene where Scarlett O’Hara talks about her plantation Tara. Later, in the printing room, the radio is playing the song, “Tara-ra boom-de-ay! Tara-ra boom-de-ay!”
The assassin then tracks down Teenyboppers writer “Merv Foxman”, who’s watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica titled “Experiment in Terra”. She shoots him with a tranquilliser dart, transports him to a nearby print shop, then throws him into the printing press where he’s crushed to death.
A month later, SeeDee editor Ben Winesap decides to unwind after a hard day at work by going to a movie theatre to see a new film called “Stepsons Of Terra”.
Ben tells his bodyguard, “It’s a sequel to ‘The Wolfman Who Destroyed Terra’.” I just hope that wolfman doesn’t go on another killing spree.”
After leaving the movie theatre, Winesap’s killed by where Ben is killed by a giant blue pencil fired from a crossbow by the robot.
Astroman is called in on the case, but he’s too late to save the SeeDee Comics building, which is destroyed by “a small, localised earthquake”.
Our hero flies over and finds the assassin and her robot. He uses a power damper to stop her superpowers, then uses “ice vision” to freeze their feet.
He arrests them and removes the hood, exclaiming, “You’re just a kid! You can’t be a day over seventeen!”
He demands to know why she assassinated all these people from SeeDee Comics, which sets up the big reveal over the page...a FULL-PAGE PIN-UP of a young blonde woman with an artificial left arm, scars on her cheek and an eye patch. She refuses to reveal her identity and the episode ends.

The opposite page has another pin-up stating, “Who is this young woman and why she so angry? See the next Astroman story!”
And it’s followed by a copyright line: “Tami © John Jacobs”.
Yep, our villain’s big secret is blown by a copyright line. And Tami is clearly a pastiche of Terra/Tara Markoff, the traitorous psycho who’d recently died in DC’s The New Teen Titans.
So, this entire episode was designed for Jacobs to set up “the return of Terra”, clearly because he was pissed off that Marv Wolfman and George Perez had killed her in their comic.

Next comes arguably the Madison imprint’s most brain-melting creation, Wolf Angel (no credits, but it looks like Jacobs and Landgraf again), who is a wolf-headed angel. The strip opens with “Arthur Lomond” on a 747 to London when a meteor hits it and the plane loses a wing. Arthur wants to save the plane “but I can’t unless somebody prays in faith!”

Luckily, a few people do and a couple of underwhelming sound effects are drawn at the bottom of a panel (“Zzztt! Crak!”). Wolf Angel magically appears to save the plane and its passengers. We then jump to a scene showing who directed the meteor at the 747: Wolf Angel’s evil brother “Wolf Demon”. While he’s gloating at his sibling’s misfortune, he’s interrupted by “Lucifer”, who orders Wolf Demon to “corrupt the President of the United States”.
Meanwhile, Wolf Angel has got the plane safely onto the ground and he muses about God and the power of prayer...for five panels.
I’d love to have seen what happened in the second episode, but this was the first and last instalment of Wolf Angel.
Next are two strips that are identical except for the endings. The longer story, Moon Raider (no credits), is about female volunteer astronaut, “Lukorm”, who’s sent from her planet to Earth to investigate the Earth explorers who’ve just landed on their planet (why they don’t just simply contact the explorers is never explained).
On her trip, Lukorm is attacked by spacecraft from “the warlike Zaroti”, then upon entering Earth’s atmosphere, Lukorm’s ship is bombed out of the sky by the “People’s Democracy of Belgravia”.
Lukorm crash-lands in “Lake Louise”. She decides to explore the new planet but first: “Before I do anything else, I’d better kneel down and thank God for a safe landing on this strange and beautiful globe.”

Lukorm talks to an owl, then befriends a sasquatch family. And that’s it.
Mars Maid (no credits) is set on Mars with Lukorm replaced by “Shirla”. Instead of the Zaroti, Shirla’s ship is attacked by the Russians(!). Entering the Earth’s atmosphere, her craft is shot down by the “People’s Republic of Malugua” and it crashes into “Lake Eileen”.
However, the strip ends abruptly with an EC horror-shock ending when an owl attacks Shirla. The final panel reads, “The six-inch-high woman will make a fine meal!” The End!
Overall, Far Frontier reads like an amateurish pisstake of EC Comics (with Landgraf’s aping of Wally Wood’s inks and the EC-style lettering) mashed up with a Jack Chick religious tract.

In the editorial for Power Stars #1 (1985), Jacobs admits Far Frontier has been replaced by this new title. He also tackles Strnad’s review of Dr Peculiar, calling it “a fair and balanced critique”. He modestly admits Dr Peculiar was “far from perfect – not nearly as good as the one you are reading now. The only thing that offended me about Strnad’s column is his accusing me of ‘pandering’ to adolescent sex fantasies.”
Jacobs passionately defends his comic, saying it’s no worse than Americomics’ FemForce and DC’s Legion Of Super-Heroes. He says his comics are “mild” and aimed at the same audience. An audience that likes scantily clad heroines being threatened with rape by monsters who then want to eat them alive, presumably.
“Perhaps he was offended by the fact that I pointed out that there is a possibility that there might be alien animals who like to copulate with their victims before devouring them.” Er...OK, Jacobs. You’re just making it worse.
He continues, “I guffawed loudly while reading [the review], especially the part where [Strnad] indicated that my brain reminded him of a mass of squirming maggots. I thought everyone’s brain was like that! (Just kidding, folks.) Anyhoo, I consider Dr Peculiar #1 a success because it got The Comics Journal discussing the Word of God. So there.”
Back to Power Stars #1. It kicks off with Black Atlas (Jacobs/Landgraf) and his origin. Like most of their collaborations, the story is filled with blatant art swipes and storylines ripped off from other superhero comics.
Black Atlas was skinny and weak as a child – and bullied for being a Christian – but through hard work, training and prayer he became a powerhouse “too strong for school sports”.
One day, Black Atlas – who strolls around the street wearing a superhero costume with a giant “A” on his chest (no wonder people bullied the nutter) – beat up a street tough and decided to be a crime-fighter. He meets Astroman and the pair become friends...or Bible buddies...or something. Their relationship is never made clear. But he helps Black Atlas become “an undercover law enforcement agent, as well as a film actor and body builder”. Okey-dokey then.
Astroman returns in a follow-up tale to Far Frontier. After easily defeating Tami and her robot, our hero takes her to jail. Astroman has placed a collar around Tami’s neck to neutralise her powers, which I presume are the earth-based powers that Terra had in New Teen Titans. Not that we’ve seen them used at all so far in Jacobs’ stories.

We’re then treated to a looooong (like seven pages) discussion between Astroman and various officials from “the FBI, the police, the military and the Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare – among others” on what they should do with Tami. At one point there’s a jaw-dropping sequence where everyone starts discussing a book that links antisocial behaviour with poor nutrition, particularly white sugar. One charactger even explains how readers can buy the book, including the price, street address and zipcode. This is all treated as a regular conversation. Clearly, Jacobs had just read the book and felt very strongly about it.
Eventually, Tami ends up as Astroman’s ward – even though she’s responsible for at least three murders. He flies her to his base in Antarctica, planning to rehabilitate Tami – although she continues to scheme of ways to escape. End of chapter.
Next we have Bazonga The Jungle Woman (Jacobs/Landgraf), which is surprisingly sedate, run-of-the-mill jungle adventures, although there is a healthy amount of T&A plus heavy anti-Communist rhetoric as Bazonga and her animal friends defeat some Cuban soldiers invading her home turf.
This is followed by arguably the best drawn strip ever to appear in a Madison Comics release; Dove 1 by Gary Thomas Washington. He can’t write for shit, but the sci-fi tale is competently drawn so there’s no point talking about it in this review.

Finally, there’s one more Black Atlas strip (writer: Jacobs/art: Jacobs, Jeff Antkowiak & JohnJeff Potter, where he faces Miss Bunting (an African-American female Captain America with practically the identical original story). Her original name? “Jan Strand” – I’m sure there’s a solid psychological reason why Jacobs gave her that name.
Seems Miss Bunting vanished after helping the Allies win WW2. In fact, she was defeated by an evil scientist, placed in suspended animation for 40 years, then sold to the Belgravian government and brainwashed into serving their evil ends. Yep, this tale came out 25 years before the Winter Soldier storyline!
So Miss Bunting is ordered to find and kill Black Atlas. The pair clash and Black Atlas defeats her with surprising ease. The story concludes rather suddenly with Miss Bunting being led away by the police, still brainwashed.

Power Stars #2 (1985) begins with another John Jacobs editorial. By this stage, Power Stars was the ONLY Madison Comics title left. John tackles the big issue: “Is Tami a rip-off of Tara?” To which he replies, “No, Tami is related to Tara of the Teen Titans in exactly the same way that the Squadron Supreme is related to the Justice League of America...used by Marvel as a parody.
“Tami was originally going to be a country singer called ‘Lukie Lou’. No lie. However, I was so deeply moved by the death of Tara Markov in the Teen Titans Annual that I decided to use the character as a Tara parody in a satirical story  dedicated to all those readers who were tired of seeing their favourite characters killed off. Astroman is a parody of Superman.
“Tami is the kind of person that Tara might have become had she survived and been adopted by someone like Astroman.”
Thanks for clearing that up for us, JJ.
We launch straight into a Black Atlas tale, which is really an excuse for a few full-page collages plus we see our hero meeting Tami. Astroman introduces her to Black Atlas as “the rock singer Tami”, which is odd until we read a later strip.
We segue straight into Tami (Story/pencils: John Jacobs; Inks: Ken Landgraf and Willie E. Peppers), which clearly indicates who’s the real star in Power Stars. Tami takes the reader on a tour of Astroman’s home. First, she checks out a film that Astroman likes to watch titled “The Adventures of Krypto Man and his K-Dog, Super!” No subtlety here.
SIDENOTE: Apart from looking like Terra, Jacobs has Tami also talking like Terra (which was actually the most annoying part of Marv Wolfman’s character in New Teen Titans). Tami says stuff like, “Watch the hands, buster!” and “You’ll never hold me, you turkeys!” Everything she says is a lame insult and veiled threat. It’s extremely tiresome reading her dialogue. But I digress...
Tami watches a documentary about Astroman’s biggest enemies, such as The Croaker, The Infestor, The Furball, Parsnip Nose and Mr Boo! (Give Jacobs some credit for the imaginative names.)
At one point, a robot servant takes Tami on tour of Astroman’s private zoo. After seeing a bunch of monstrous aliens she’s confronted by a guy in a fedora.
“What is this creature?” she asks. “It almost looks human.”
“This is a mock journalist!” the robot replies. “Very dangerous! You don’t want to fool around with them. They are, if you excuse the term, bad news!”
Clearly, Jacobs was more bothered by Strnad’s review than he was letting on in his editorial.
Later, we see Astroman reminiscing about more of his arch-enemies including Professor Armand Geddon (a Dr Doom rip-off), The Bomany, Mr Zzxfzlzzxzlfzlk (guess who?), The Fleahound , Captain Vomit and Hitler Junior (!).
“Who knows?” muses Astroman. “With God’s help, some of them can be rehabilitated.”
Next, we see a double-page spread of Teen Titans knock-offs “the Teen Tranton” battling killer robots: “Wingknight” (aka Nightwing), “Mandroid” (aka Cyborg), “Presto” (Changeling), “Shadowhawk” (Raven), “Sunburst” (Starfire) and “Princess Power” (Wonder Girl).
Mandroid says, “We sure could use Geostar’s powers now! It’s a damn shame she betrayed us and got herself killed!” So now we know Tami’s codename.
The episode ends with Astroman visiting Tami in her bedroom after she’s had a nightmare and admitting to himself that he’s falling in love with her.

Mr Weird is a strange tale (well, all the strips are strange, but this one is stranger than most) of a Christian warrior fighting demonic creatures from the Lost Dimension that have invaded Earth to spread “atheistic communism”. Aiding Mr Weird as he takes his battle to the Lost Dimension is Jewish superhero “Ben Solomon” and “The Amazing Hypnoman”.
Although hideous creatures try to spew toxic vomit on them (seriously, there’s lots of spewing going on in this strip), our heroes defeat the boss demon through the power of Christ.
Yay, Jesus!
The last strip is – surprise, surprise – Tami in Rock Fever (Writer/penciller: Jacobs/Inkers: JohnJeff Potter and C. Bunker). In all her previous appearances, Tami has been depicted as a psychotic, rude, murderous bitch. Yet in this story she becomes a rock star with Astroman’s help. It’s played as total comedy and she comes across as quirky and almost likeable. It’s a surprising U-turn in the character’s development.  Astroman builds Tara an all-robot band – we’re then greeted with a gratuitous page of Tami cheesecake poses.
While Tami becomes an overnight sensation, Astroman spots a church and thinks, “Now it’s time to make some of my kind of music!” He sits in a pew, strums a guitar and sings Amazing Grace. I shit thee not.
Aaaaaaaaaand my mind is now officially MUSH.

In late October, Chris wrote to me that he’d written a letter to Jacobs: “I haven’t heard anything, but will let you know if I do! I offered to publish a collection of his!”

A collection of John Jacobs’ work? Hell, yeah! It’s long overdue!

FOOTNOTE: THIS remains my Holy Grail. Does it even exist?