Tuesday, May 31, 2016

COMICS READING FOR MAY: “Keep It Civil – Captain America vs Iron Man (Part 1)”

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

*****     All-Star Superman, We3
****      New X-Men (the early issues), Batman Inc., Batman And Robin, Dare, Arkham Asylum
***        Zenith, Seven Soldiers
**         Final Crisis, Flex Mentallo
*           Marvel Boy
DUD (or lower) Nameless, later New X-Men and any of his hippy-dippy, pseudo-mystical crap

1.-9. Captain America: War and Remembrance (Marvel, 1990) ****
- originally published in Captain America #247-255 (Marvel, (1980)
Writer: Roger Stern/Artists: John Byrne and Joe Rubinstein
I expected this to be a bit painful – and God knows Stern’s goofy, pseudo-patriotic dialogue that he gives Cap is awful at times – but, surprisingly, I found myself enjoying this tasty nine-issue run by Stern and Byrne. Byrne is at his artistic peak here and the tales are rollicking, featuring Cap taking on the likes of Baron Blood, Batroc the Leaper, Mr Hyde, Baron Von Strucker, Dragon Man and MachineSmith.
10.-18. Captain America #193, 195-199, 203, 210-211 (Marvel, 1976-77) ***¾
19. Captain America Annual #3 (Marvel, 1976) ***½
Writer: Jack Kirby/Artists: Jack Kirby and friends
The King’s last run with Marvel has been unfairly maligned. Sure, his writing style was bombastic and of another era, but his “Madbomb” epic is actually a lot of fun as he puts Cap and the Falcon through their paces as they battle a traitorous “elite” intent on destroying the USA during the Bicentennial celebrations. Kirby’s artwork is as epic as ever. In fact, it’s quite surprising now to realise that some readers were more concerned about Jack’s art than his writing ability. A letter from future Marvel staffer Ralph Macchio talks about having “nightmares” in anticipation of Kirby’s “uselessly large panels”, only to be relieved that he’s kept most of his panels small. What a douchebag. Thankfully, Kirby was happy to use plenty of double-page and single-page spreads to get across the majesty of his work.

20. Captain America #115 (Marvel, 1969) ***
Writer: Stan Lee/Artists: John and Sal Buscema
21. Captain America Annual #6 (Marvel, 1982) *
Writer: JM DeMatteis/Artists: Ron Wilson and Vince Colletta
What should have been a fun tale about the four Caps (Spirit of 76, The Patriot, the insane 50s version and the real Cap) being brought together by Mr Buda (last seen in the oversized Bicentennial Treasury) is very ordinary and painfully forced. The concept of the four Caps fighting together is actually really confusing as it’s just four guys in the same uniform and they’re hard to tell apart. Ron Wilson’s art is bad and Colletta’s inking makes it even worse. As for JM, this isn’t his finest work. His attempt to showcase the 50s Cap’s racism is offensive, especially when he has him using words like “darkies” and “jungle bunnies”. Hideous.
22. Captain America #221 (Marvel, 1978) **
[main story] Writers: Steve Gerber and David Kraft/Artists: Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito
[back-up tale] Writer: Scott Edelman/Artists: Steve Leialoha and Al Gordon
I bought this comic at the time, but sold it years ago. But I rebought it recently because I’d always liked the back-up yarn about Rick Jones becoming “Captain Avenger”. It’s a dreaded “it was all a dream” story, though.
23. Captain America #221 (Marvel, 1982) *
Writer: David Kraft/Artists: Alan Kupperberg, John Beatty and friends
A bizarre wrestling tale – part kayfabe, part real. Really one of Kraft’s poorer efforts, although the wrestling yarn is fun, considering it takes place before the rock’n’wrestling boom, which came three years later.
24.-27. Captain America: Forever Allies #1-4 (Marvel, 2010-11) ***¼
Writer: Roger Stern/Artists: Nick Dragotta, Marco Santucci and Patrick Piazzaguta (interior); Lee Weeks (cover)
28.-30. Captain America: The 1940s Newspaper Strip #1-3 (Marvel, 2010) ***½
Writer: Karl Kesel/Artists: Karl Kesel (interior); Butch Guice (cover)
31. What If...Captain America Were Revived Today? #44 (Marvel, 1984) ***
Writer: Peter Gillis/Artists: Sal Buscema and Dave Simons; Bill Sienkiewicz (cover)
32. Captain America Book and Record Set (Power Records, 1974) *
- originally published in Captain America #168 (Marvel, 1973)
Writer: Tony Isabella/Artists: Sal Buscema, John Tartaglione and George Roussos (interior);Sal Buscema and John Verpoorten (cover)
33.-34. Captain America #27-28 (Marvel, 2004) ***½
Writer: Robert Morales/Artists: Eddie Campbell and Stewart McKenny (interior); Dave Johnson (cover)

35.-53. The Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2010) *****
- originally published in The Invincible Iron Man #1-19 (Marvel, 2008-09)
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Salvador Larroca
Fucking awesome mature (as in MATURE) superhero action. First, Tony Stark faces his worst fears when terrorists use Iron Man technology to create bloody mayhem around the world. Seems an old enemy’s son has decided to target Stark. Then, following the Skrull invasion, Stark and SHIELD are out, Norman Osborne and HAMMER are in. Tony decides to stop Osborne from accessing top-secret documents by storing them in his brain, then slowly deleting the info using Iron Man tech. Only problem is, the process is making him dumber and deader by the minute. How can Stark – using increasingly older and more outdated Iron Man armour – defend himself against the likes of the Sub-Mariner, Madame Masque, Crimson Dynamo and Osborne himself in the guise of the Iron Patriot?
This is amazingly well-written, beautifully illustrated comics. Sophisticated superheroes? Who woulda thunk it?
54.-67. The Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2 (Marvel, 2012) *****
- originally published in The Invincible Iron Man #20-33 (Marvel, 2009-11)
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artists: Salvador Larroca; Jamie McKelvie
68.-72. Hulk Smash The Avengers #1-5 (Marvel, 2012) ***½
Writers/Artists: various; Lee Weeks (cover artist)
Naturally, if we talk about Shellhead and Cap, then we have to talk about The Avengers. So I read this weekly miniseries and will continue with a big Avengers catch-up next month. The Civil War continues...

Seemed like an appropriate time to read (and re-read) some glorious comics put out by one of the great storytellers of this generation.

73.-84. Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art Of Darwyn Cooke (DC, 2015) *****
- originally published in a bunch of comics (DC, 1985-2015)
Read my blog review HERE.
85. Marvel Double-Shot #3 (Marvel, 2003) ***
(Fantastic Four) Writer: Jai Nitz/Artist: Gurihiru
(Ant-Man) Writer: Sean McKeever/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
86.-88. Batman: Ego And Other Tails (DC, 2007) *****
- originally published in Batman: Ego, Selina’s Big Score and other titles (DC, 2000-05)
3 comics
89.-92. The Twilight Children (Vertigo, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Twilight Children #1-4 (Vertigo, 2015-16)
Writer: Gilbert Hernandez/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Darwyn’s final project and it’s a fitting tribute to his genius. Gilbert’s magic realism doesn’t always grab me in Love And Rockets, but here married to Darwyn’s extraordinary art helps take it to another level. Love, lust, betrayal, aliens, CIA agents and weird glowing orbs make this book a must-read.
93.-97. Catwoman: The Dark End Of The Street (DC, 2002) *****
- originally published in Detective Comics #759-762, Catwoman #1-4 (DC, 2001-02)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Darwyn Cooke, Mike Allred and Cameron Stewart

98. Mooncop: A Tom Gauld Sampler (Drawn 7 Quarterly, 2016) ****
Writer/Artist: Tom Gauld
99. Indie Comic Previews (Boy In A Box Productions, 2016) *
Writers/Artists: various
100. Civil War II/Avengers (Marvel, 2016) ***¼
Writers/Artists: various
101. Serenity/Hellboy/Aliens (Dark Horse, 2016) ***½
Writers: various/Artists: Richard Corben and friends
102. The Phantom (Hermes Press, 2016) *
Writer: unknown/Artist: Jim Aparo
Reprints of dull Charlton tales from 1970. Disappointing and Aparo’s art is pretty primitive.
A curiosity and nothing  more.
103. March (Top Shelf, 2016) ****
Writers: John Lewis and Andrew Aydin/Artist: Nate Powell
A helluva interesting historic tale about Senator John Lewis and his experiences during the Civil Rights Era of the 1950s and 60s.
104. Attack On Titan Anthology (Kodansha Comics, 2016) ****¼
Writers/Artists: various
I NEED this anthology!
105.-111. Oni Press Starter Pack (Oni Press, 2016) ****
- originally published in The Sixth Gun #1, Letter 44 #1, The Bunker #1, Stumptown #1, Helheim #1, Kaijumax #1, The Life After #1 (Oni Press, 2009-14)
A handy tasting tray of seven classic Oni Press titles. I’ve read two – The Sixth Gun (great) and Kaijumax (offensive) – but I’d not read the other five series. So five comics for $5 was great value. I was impressed by all of them, except maybe The Life After. I’ll have to check them out.
112. Camp Midnight (Image, 2016) ****
Writer: Steven T. Seagle/Artist: Jason Adam Katzenstein
113. Bazza The Bogan Barbarian: Sydney Zombie Apocalypse (Silver Fox, 2016) ***
Creators: Sorab Del Rio and Don Ticchio
114. Suicide Squad #1 (DC, 2016) ***¾
- originally published as Suicide Squad #1 (DC, 2011)
Writer: Adam Glass/Artists: Federico Dallocchio, Ransom Getty and Scott Hanna (interior); Ryan Benjamin  (cover)
115. Steve Rogers: Captain America (Marvel, 2016) ***½
(Captain America) Writer: Nick Spencer/Artist: Jesus Saiz
(The Amazing Spider-Man) Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Javier Garron

116. Harley’s Little Black Book #1 (DC, 2016) ****
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner/Artists: Amanda Conner, John Timms and Dave Johnson
117. All-New Hawkeye #1 (DC, 2016) ***¾
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artist: Ramon Perez
118. The Sandman Overture #1 (DC, 2013) ****½
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artist: JH Williams III
119. Secret Origins Featuring Phantom Girl #42 (DC, 1989) **¾
Writers/artists: various
120.-123. The Supernaturals #1-4 (Marvel, 1998) *
Writer: Brian Pulido and Mark Andreyko/Artists: Ivan Reis and Joe Pimentel (interior); Jim Balent (cover)
This Elseworlds-style miniseries kicks off with the “Chaos! Event” (Whoa ! Subtle plug there, Pulido!), which causes all non-supernatural superheroes to vanish. Fast forward 13 years later to Halloween. A second “Chaos! Event” is about to take place that will destroy the planet, so it’s up to Brother Voodoo to bring together a team of misfits: The Black Cat, Ghost Rider, Satana, Gargoyle and Werewolf By Night. Together they must battle Jack O’Lantern and various other evil critters including Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Living Mummy, Fin Fang Foom, etc.
Whoa, this slice o’ late 90s cheese was too good (or is that “too bad”) to pass up. This weird weekly series sums up everything that stank comics during this period (particularly Chaos! Comics during this era). First up we have Brian Pulido as a writer. The guy just plain sucks. Ivan Reis – who has gone on to become a very good artist – draws in that horrible, cartoony style that Chaos! revelled in. All weird angles and odd panel construction that made little sense.
Finally, the covers are by Jim Balent! Sadly, they’re surprisingly cheesecake-free, which means they just simply suck.
I mainly picked up this series to get the free Halloween masks that came with each issue, including “the rare Ghost Rider mask”...which I scored in the first issue. Hardly rare, then.
124. Legion: Secret Files #1 (DC, 1998) ***½
Writers: Tom Peyer, Tom McCraw/Artists: various   

125. Buried Treasure (self-published, 2016) ***
Writer/artist: Sarah Catherine Firth (www.sarahthefirth.com)
It’s a cute yarn – it’s meant to be profound, but falls a bit short.
126. Weird Worlds Vol. 1 No. 1 (Eerie Publications, 1970) *
Writers: unknown/Artist: Dick Ayers (maybe others)
Downloaded off the net. This is godawful sci-fi schlock, even by Dick Ayers’ low standards.
127.-129. And Then Emily Was Gone #3-5 (Comix Tribe, 2014) ****½
Writer: John Lees/Artist: Iain Laurie

130.-134. Atomic Robo: The Dogs Of War (Red 5, 2009) ***½
- originally published in Atomic Robo: The Dogs Of War #1-5 (Red 5, 2008-09)
Writer: Brian Clevinger/Artist: Scott Wegener
135. Patience by Daniel Clowes (Jonathan Cape, 2016) ****¼
136.-141. SuperGirl: Cosmic Adventures In the 8th Grade (DC, 2016) ***
- originally published in SuperGirl: Cosmic Adventures In the 8th Grade #1-6 (DC, 2009)
Writer: Landrey Q. Walker/Artist: Eric Jones
I bought this TPB for my kids and my five-year-old son Dash liked it so much that he asked me and his mum to read it. I found it a bit too try-hard as it tried to shoehorn a bunch of Supergirl and Superman mythology into a storyline that would also appeal to tweens (and younger kids like my son). It just missed the mark, then again, I’m not the target audience.
142. Powers #6 (Icon, 2016) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Mike Avon Oeming
143.-145. Race For The Moon (Canton Street Press, 2015) ****
- originally published as Race For The Moon #1-3 (Harvey, 1958)
Writers: unknown/Artists: Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Bob Powell, Al Williamson and friends
Some classic Cold War Era sci-fi action with tons of amazing Kirby art. A rare gem. Shame about the cheap production, though – including misspelling Bob Powell’s name on the cover.
146. The Wizard King: Odkin, Son Of Odkin (Vanguard Productions, 2007) ***½
- originally self-published in 1981, parts reprinted in 1984 (Warren, mid-80s) and World Of Wood (Eclipse, mid-80s)

Writer: Wally Wood/Artists: Wally Wood with help from Peter Hsu, Jack Robinson and Randy Elliott 

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