Saturday, November 16, 2019

Planet of the Nerds

Planet of the NerdsPlanet of the Nerds by Paul Constant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Three jocks from the 1980s are accidentally cryogenically frozen and wake up in the present day. Can they cope in a world full of nerds?

I've been impressed with Ahoy Comics so far so I'm compelled to read everything they put out. Hence, Planet of the Nerds.

The premise is pretty simple. Just look at the title. Stereotypical 80s jocks get frozen and wind up in the present day. Only it's not as simple as that. The characters all have their secrets and Alvin, the nerd they used to torment, has secrets of his own.

It's the classic "man from a different time" story. Chad, Drew, and Steve struggle to fit into the modern world and go looking for Alvin, the nerd who froze them. The writing moves things along at a fair clip, no decompression, and the art perfectly suits the story. I also like that Ahoy doesn't go crazy with the computer coloring effects.

Planet of the Nerds is a fun book full of 1980s references that doesn't overstay its welcome, another entertaining book from Ahoy Comics. Four out of five stars.


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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Eerie Archives Volume 26

Eerie Archives Volume 26Eerie Archives Volume 26 by Archie Goodwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eerie Archives collects most of the stories from Eerie 126-131.

After reading Creepy Presents Alex Toth, I decided to pick this up in order to sample more of Warren's horror comic magazines of the 70s and 80s. Lots of prominent Bronze Age artists cut their teeth at Eerie and its sister magazine, Creepy, like Neal Adams, and some EC artists had some of their last work there, like Wally Wood, so I was expecting the second coming of EC Comics.

The art here is top notch, as expected. The last issue is all Wally Wood, for example, and artists like Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, Pat Boyette, and Jim Starlin are featured. The art is tailored to the black and white format instead of being color artwork that hasn't been colored yet, moody and gritty, full of life.

The stories, however, are a mixed bag. I wouldn't say any were outright duds but most of them were pretty unmemorable, especially since I can't remember many of them without thumbing through the book again.

Another gripe is that for a magazine entitled Eerie, there wasn't all that much horror to be had. Most of the tales were science fiction or fantasy and there were only a few genuinely Creepy or Eerie moments. The undead baby was great, though, and I liked the story about Houdini and Merlin going up against Lovecraftian beasties even if it had unspectacular art.

I'm giving this three stars but I'd probably give it a two if I paid full price for it. The paper is high quality and this sucker is built to last but I don't think it's worth 50 bucks unless you're already a Warren fanatic.

Eerie Archives Volume 26 had its moments but I'm going to be more selective the next time I buy one of these archives. Three out of five undead babies.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Nancy: A Comic Collection by Olivia Jaimes

Nancy: A Comic CollectionNancy: A Comic Collection by Olivia Jaimes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nancy: A Comic Collection collects the Nancy strips from April 9, 2018 to January 13, 2019, written and drawn by Olivia Jaimes.

Nancy was always one of those newspaper strips I was vaguely aware of but never got into. Until, that is, people started reTweeting Nancy strips by Olivia Jaimes. I was hooked right away.

In the afterword, Jaimes says she set out to modernize Nancy a bit and return her to her jerky roots. Mission accomplished! While staying true to the look of the strip established by Ernie Bushmiller, Jaimes' Nancy spends a lot of time talking smack and playing on her phone or computer. Jaimes is equally adept at visual gags and at wordplay. Sluggo takes a word balloon to the head on one occasion, for instance.

While it won't make you forget Calvin and Hobbes, Nancy by Olivia Jaimes is one of the best comic strips going today. 4 out of 5 stars.



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Corpse on the Imjin

Corpse on the Imjin! and Other StoriesCorpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories by Harvey Kurtzman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Corpse of the Imjin! collects stories by Harvey Kurtzman from Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat from EC Comics.

Like a lot of people, I mostly associated Harvey Kurtzman with Mad Magazine. As I chewed through Fantagraphics EC Artists Library, I kept avoiding it. War comics? Whatever. Anyway, I finally caved in and found this volume to be magnificent.

This book contains 11 war stories written and drawn by Harvey Kurtzman and 14 with scripts and layouts by Kurtzman with art by others, the others being future legends like Alex Toth, Joe Kubert, Russ Heath, and Gene Colan. Kurtzman's covers are also collected here, live and in color.

First off, Kurtzman's scripts do a lot to strip away the heroism of war, making most of the tales bleak stories of men facing their doom. I wouldn't say they're anti-war exactly, more like realistic war. The tales feature poignant moments and some are actually touching. My three favorite tales were Air Burst, The Big If, and the title tale, Corpse on the Imjin, though I wouldn't say there was a dud in the bunch.

Kurtzman's art did a lot to elevate him in my esteem. I associated him more with humor but his cartoony style is equally adept at depicting the atrocities of war. Seriously, Harvey Kurtzman is now my favorite EC Artist not named Wally Wood. The guest artists knock it out of the part as well, particularly Alex Toth in his two tales.

Corpse on the Imjin shows why Harvey Kurtzman was a comics pioneer. The Harvey Awards are named after a fitting artist. 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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Monday, November 4, 2019

The Complete ElfQuest Volume One

The Complete ElfQuest, Volume OneThe Complete ElfQuest, Volume One by Wendy Pini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the Wolfriders are driven from their forest home, they endure great heartships before joining with the elves of the desert. But are there more tribes of elves on the world of two moons and where did the come from in the first place? That's what Cutter, Leetah, and the rest of the Wolfriders want to know!

ElfQuest was always in the periphery when I was playing Dungeons and Dragons back in the day but I never read an issue. We were milling around in Barnes and Noble not too long ago, waiting for some of my wife's college friends to show up, when I flipped through this tome. Needing a new series to read now that I'm caught up on Usagi Yojimbo, I eventually decided to give it a shot.

Yeah, I should have picked this up decades ago. For my money, ElfQuest has a lot going for it. It's not your typical Tolkien by way of Dungeons and Dragons fantasy. There are science fantasy elements lurking in the background. The Wolfriders have more in common with Native American culture than they do Professor Tolkien's creations. I have to think there's a little Michael Moorcock in their parentage as well. Instead of wanting to save the world, the Wolfriders and their elfin allies seek only to find where they came from and where they belong.

Flowery hippy crap aside, this is great stuff. The art isn't your typical comic fare of the time period. Wendy Pini drew inspiration from more than the usual suspects of the day, from diverse sources as Disney cartoons and manga. Yes, I'm aware manga is influenced by Disney cartoons brought to Japan after World War II. She puts a lot of detail in the background, probably more than she needs to, and her elves are both beautiful and alien. I have to think it was an influence on later works like The Dark Crystal and Pirates of Darkwater.

It was easy to get enthralled by the adventures of Cutter, Skywise, and the rest as they go from adventure to adventure, battling men, trolls, and even other elves in their quest for the truth. Since the Pinis are working without a net, I had no idea who would live or die.

There's not a lot else I can share without spoiling too much. The Complete ElfQuest is a journey I should have embarked on years ago. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Gogor

GogorGogor by Ken Garing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the Domus attack the floating islands of Altara, Armano is lucky to escape with his life on the back of his giant shrew, Mesmer. Armano seks Gogor, the monster that sleeps within the earth to defeat the Domus. But is even Gogor enough?

While my wife and I stood in line on Free Comic Book Day, I spied the first issue of Gogor on the rack and picked it up along with my freebies. Once the trade was solicited, I immediately pre-ordered it.

I've never been a fan of cookie-cutter, Tolkien by way of Dungeons and Dragons fantasy. Luckily, Gogor isn't of that genre. It's more science fantasy with an environmental message. There are islands floating in the sky, some magic, some technology, and some that's a little of both. There are numerous humanoid species, most resembling different animals. Armano rides a giant shrew and one of the villains uses a giant flying manta ray for transport.

The Domus are taking over the sky islands and it's up to the survivors to defeat them, with the help of Gogor! Gogor is a Swamp Thing/Incredible Hulk type of monster. Once Armano summons him, the book kicks into high gear.

While I like the story and the world, the artwork is the star of the show for me. It's definitely a minimalist style, simultaneously reminding me of Jeff Smith's Bone, Moebius, and Nausicaa. I'd love to see more of Ken Garing's art. It's right in my wheelhouse. The only bad thing about this book is that Gogor was cancelled so this is pretty much it. At least there are still plenty of mediocre super hero books for people to fawn over.

While the saga is as of yet unfinished, I liked Gogor quite a bit. Four out of five plant monsters.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal

Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest MortalShazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal by Chip Kidd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal details the Captain Marvel phenomenon of the 1940s.

I've known for a long time that Captain Marvel outsold Superman in the 1940s but I had no idea what a media juggernaut he really was. This volume contains lots of art from the adventures of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family in comics, but also touches upon the movie serials, I had no idea Captain Marvel was the first superhero ever depicted on screen, and the extensive merchandise that was churned out during Captain Marvel's heyday.

In the '40s, kids could get their hands on Captain Marvel tin cars, Captain Marvel temporary tattoos, Captain Marvel patches, Captain Marvel buttons, and pretty much any other piece of crap you could slap the likeness of Captain Marvel or the Marvel Family on.

Mac Raboy had a pretty good section devoted to him. Unless I missed it, there wasn't much about CC Beck. Spy Smasher got a little more time than I thought he would, especially since the Lieutenant Marvels didn't get a peep. The book is more of a scrapbook than anything else. There isn't much in the way of text apart from a page here and there. It's jam packed with art and photos, though. Would it kill DC to put out a collection of CC Beck Captain Marvel covers at some point?

I find it interesting that before the comics code & deliberately phased out Steamboat because even then they knew the character was an offensive stereotype.

Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal is an interesting scrapbook detailing the phenomenon that was Captain Marvel in the 1940s. I wouldn't have minded more in the way of actual text, though. 4 out of 5 lightning bolts.



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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Doctor Strange: Herald

Doctor Strange, Vol. 3: HeraldDoctor Strange, Vol. 3: Herald by Mark Waid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When an alien sorcerer banishes Galactus to the Dark Dimensions, the Eater of Worlds runs amok. Can Doctor Strange bring Galactus back to his home dimension and restore the cosmic balance?

Doctor Strange: Herald collects issues 12-17 of Doctor Strange.

Mark Waid's run on Doctor Strange continues, this time with Barry Kitson at the art helm. When the Sorcerer Supreme goes up against the Devourer of Worlds, things take an unexpected turn.

Kitson's art does a great job portraying alien dimensions and Waid certainly stacks the deck against Doctor Strange. When Mephisto and Dormammu are pulling the strings of Galactus, you know shit is serious. Seeing Clea, Umar, Strange, and the magic and space allstars of the Marvel Universe try to stop Galactus was a spectacle worthy of a crossover that derails a lot of books but it was fairly self-contained.

My one pet peeve is that Marvel can't wait to have its heroes make deals with the devil. Just when it looked like Waid might do something interesting with Clea for the first time in years, the rug gets yanked out from under us.

Mark Waid and Barry Kitson exceeded my expectations on this one. Four out of five Wands of Watoomb.

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Doctor Strange: Remittance

Doctor Strange, Vol. 2: RemittanceDoctor Strange, Vol. 2: Remittance by Mark Waid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Doctor Strange finds himself locked in combat with... himself? Can he unravel the mystery of The Two Doctors before the true mastermind shows himself?

Doctor Strange: Remittance collects issues 6-11 of Doctor Strange.

The previous volume, Across the Universe, was a pretty inventive tale. This one feels like a bridging volume more than anything else. Yeah, the stuff with Baron Mordo, the Ancient One, and the Faltine was cool but the book was the tail end of the previous volume, plus a two parter, plus some standalone tales. I guess it just lacked a unifying component other than Doctor Strange.

That being said, I did enjoy it. My favorite tale was the one of the demonic real estate developer trying to buy up Doctor Strange's neighborhood. The anniversary stories in #10 were also quite good. Another thing that impeded my enjoyment was the shifting of art teams. Sure, they all produced great demons and monsters but the contrasting styles were a little irritating.

That's about it, I guess. I liked Doctor Strange: Remittance but never contemplated making sweet love to it on my Cloak of Levitation. 3 out of 5 stars.


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Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Addams Family: An Evilution

The Addams Family: An EvilutionThe Addams Family: An Evilution by Charles Addams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Addams Family: An Evilution collects over 200 cartoons featuring the Addams Family by Charles Addams.

Like most people, I was unaware that the Addams Family started life as one panel cartoons in The New Yorker in the 1920s. I picked this up on a whim and was quite entertained.

The Addams Family: An Evilution chronicles the evolution of the various members of the Addams Family from their humble beginnings until some time in the 1960s. Fun fact: They weren't known as the Addams Family until the TV show was in development. Gomez, Morticia, and their children didn't have a last name, although Granny Frump's surname implied that Gomez was Gomez Frump.

Charles Addams conveyed a lot in his one panel cartoons, leaving some things for the reader to puzzle out. The amount of detail in some of the cartoons is astonishing. I have to think some were the work of a week or more. The humor is of a very dark vein, hilarious yet somewhat disturbing at times.

That's about all I have to say. Charles Addam's family was creepy and hilarious even in its embryonic state. 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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