Friday, June 22, 2018

The Blue Boy Scout and the Big Red Cheese - DC Comics Presents Annual 3

DC Comics Presents Annual 3
Cover and interior: Gil Kane
Writer: Roy Thomas with Julius Schwartz and Gil Kane

Superman battles a giant robot tearing up New York.  Using his X-Ray vision, he sees Dr. Sivana inside.  Superman destroys the robot but Sivana escapes in the head, flying back to the Rock of Eternity.

Sivana reveals that he has Shazam in his power and taunts Captain Marvel until Billy Batson says the magic word and most of the power goes to Captain/Major/Colonel/General Sivana!  Sivana syphons off most of the Marvel Family's power, beating down Captain Marvel and trapping him in a cave under the Rock of Eternity.

Sivana tangles with the Marvel Family and uses the Rock of Eternity to escape.  Not wanting Superman to interfere with his plans, Sivana goes gunning for the Man of Steel and winds up on Earth 2. 

Sivana defeats (!) the Superman of Earth-2 and chains him to an asteroid with Kryptonite before heading to Earth-1 to fight that Superman.  Damn, Sivana has some set of balls on him.

Sivana and Superman duke it out and Sivana whips out the Kryptonite.  Superman weakened, Sivana puts on the Kryptonite knucks and beats the shit out of Superman while Captain Marvel has his Spider-Man moment under the Rock of Eternity and busts out.

As Sivana prepares to deliver the death blow, Captain Marvel attacks him and slams him into the Rock of Eternity, waking up Shazam.  Superman is able to save the Earth-2 Superman and Shazam shows up to strip Sivana of his powers.  The Marvel Family take Sivana off to Earth-S so he can escape to fight another day.

After decades of seeing Captain Marvel repeatedly playing second banana to Superman, this was really good!  Sivana handed two Supermen their asses using Cap's powers and Cap was the one to save the day despite being severely weakened.  Not a bad day for the Big Red Cheese.

The storyline was simple but still good.  A villain lusting for power never goes out of style.  Gil Kane's are was top notch, although his Clark Kent looks about 20 years older than his Superman.  This makes me want to dig out the other three DC Comics Presents Superman/Captain Marvel team-ups I have in the long boxes.





Thift Store Find - The Legend of the Dark Claw!

Legends of the Dark Claw
Cover and Interior: Jim Balent and Ray McCarthy
Writer: Larry Hama

Way back in 1996, DC and Marvel had a crossover that led to a merged universe of combined characters under the Amalgam Comics brand.  Dark Claw resulted from that unholy union, a combination of Batman and Wolverine.  I wasn't able to score a copy back in the day but found one at the thrift store a few weeks ago.

Dark Claw hunts down his arch-nemesis The Hyena, a combination of The Joker and Sabretooth.  The Hyena heads for the roof and his goons open fire on Dark Claw.  Sparrow, Jubilee+Robin, Dark Claw's sidekick, shows up in a helicopter to fly him to safety.

Meanwhile, The Huntress, aka Carol Danvers, breaks into Logan Wayne's penthouse and discovers he is Dark Claw!  Dark Claw shows up and catches Danvers in the act.  Turns out Danvers was looking for Creed, aka The Hyena, and stumbled upon Dark Claw's identity by mistake.

Dark Claw and Hyena were created by the same covert project.  Dark Claw was the reject of the project since he was a killer with a conscience.  Dark Claw takes The Huntress to The Barrow, his secret headquarters beneath his apartment building. 

Dark Claw, Sparrow, and The Huntress figure out that the Hyena is planning on killing the president when he visits Gotham and spring into action.  This culminates in Dark Claw and Hyena battling on Air Force One!

Okay, first off, this is a very 1990s comic, meaning that it's full of action.  That being said, Larry Hama and Jim Balent did a hell of a job on it.  In one issue, they managed to create two characters and a mythology that felt surprisingly deep, combining aspects of Batman and Wolverine while still feeling fairly unique.  While I would have enjoyed it more at the time it was released, it's still pretty damn good for a nineties comic.

It's a shame the Big Two don't have the same relationship they used to.  They're leaving money on the table by not trotting out the Amalgam characters every few years for a nostalgia run.

A Trio of Team-Ups - DC Comics Presents #12, #41, and #84

Back in the day, the team-up books were my favorites.  I loved Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-In-One, The Brave and the Bold, and even World's Finest.  However, the one I have the most issues of in my collection is DC Comics Presents.

Ten years ago, one of the local comic shops was having a huge back issues sale and I snagged these three.  They went into a long box unread.  Unread until today, that is.

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DC Comics Presents #12
Cover: Ross Andru and Dick Giordano
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artists: Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano

Mister Miracle escapes from a coffin dropped from a plane over the Nevada desert and is pissed when he finds out most people were tuned to a documentary about Superman and missed his special.

After some moping, Mister Miracle sees an Intergang boss and follows her.  Turns out Intergang has a mind control device that can destroy Superman!

The criminals test the device and Mister Miracle tries to warn Superman but can't because of the device's effects.  Since he can't warn Superman, Mister Miracle challenges him to a contest to somehow convey the message to him.  Huh.

Anyway, Superman confronts Mister Miracle for acting like a douche and they head back to the desert to settle things.  Mister Miracle tricks Superman and destroys the machine, freeing him from his mental block.

Yeah, the ending was pretty hokey but getting there was fun.  DC sure brought the A-game to the table with the art on DC Comics presents.  Ross Andru always gets overlooked as one of the top artists of the late 70s/early 80s and Rich Buckler was hot at the time.  The plot was kind of flimsey but gets extra points for alluding to Superman vs. Mohammed Ali.

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DC Comics Presents #41
Cover: Ross Andru and Dick Giordano
Writer: Martin Pasco
Artists: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Frank McLaughlin

The gripping Ross Andru cover sets this one up nicely, or does if the scene actually appears in the issue.  Superman has to choose between saving Perry White or The Joker.  Maybe let them both die?  Didn't The Joker kill Lois in the Kingdom Come timeline?

The Joker springs the Prankster from the joint.  Superman goes looking for the Prankster.  Superman calls Alfred and tells him to keep Batman in the dark about The Joker being on the loose again.  WTF, Supes?

Clark Kent, Lois, and Perry White head to California for an assignment and sees that the estate of a famous comedian is going up for auction.  Putting two and two together, Superman heads for the auction.

The Prankster swipes some novelties from the auction and takes Perry White hostage.  Since there's no room for two criminals with similar gimmicks, The Prankster turns on the Joker and throws him out of the helicopter as they make their escape.

Superman and the Joker team up to find The Prankster.  The Joker turns on Superman and poisons the Prankster before he can reveal where Perry White is being held captive.  Supes takes the Prankster to the Fortress of Solitude and saves his life with Kryptonian medicine.  Superman arrives just in time to save Perry White and haul the Joker off to jail.

Apart from the Joker and the Prankster turning on each other, this one's plot was kind of a dud.  JLGL's art is spot on, though.

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DC Comics Presents #84
Cover: Jack Kirby and Greg Theakson
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Artists: Jack Fucking Kirby and Alex Fucking Toth (with Greg Theakson on inks)!

Before Jor-El discovered the Phantom Zone, criminals were put in prison ships orbiting Krypton.  Now, one of them is approaching Earth.

The Challengers of the Unknown are hassling a secretary at the Daily Planet when Clark Kent shows up for work.  The Challengers are there looking for Superman and relay the tale of saving a suicidal jumper.  The jumper had a card in his pocket with Kryptonian symbols on it.

Using the wayback machine at the Fortress of Solitude, Superman identifies the symbol as a mind control symbol used by Zo-Mar, a Kryptonian criminal foiled by General Zod and exiled to a satellite prison. Superman gathers the four Challengers up in his arms and they go looking for Zo-Mar.

Zo-Mar whips the symbol on Superman and the Challengers and quickly has them under control.  Jo-Mar sends Superman on a property destroying rampage.  Superman uses super-ventriloquism to command the Challengers to subdue Zo-Mar and take the symbol from him. 

By this time, Zo-Mar is exhibiting Kryptonian super powers due to exposure to the card bearing the symbol, which is somehow made of a weird variety of Kryptonite.  Superman manages to use his super breath to hit Zo-Mar with the symbol, robbing him of his powers.  Superman exiles Zo-Mar to the Phantom Zone and everything is right again.

Okay, I was enjoying this one quite a bit right up until the Super-Ventriloquism.  The card being made of Kryptonite and giving Zo-Mar powers was also dubious.  Still, the tale was still pretty enjoyable.  Alex Toth AND Jack Kirby on art?  Holy shit!

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The ConclusionThese three issues of DC Comics Presents were all enjoyable at times but none of them really jump out at me as particularly good issues of the title.  As a kid, I would have loved them.  As an adult, #84 is the only one that strikes me as particularly memorable and that's because of the art.  It was fun reading these three issues of DC Comics Presents for the first time but there are a lot of issues that were better than these three.



















Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil - Blue Devil #1

Blue Devil #1
Cover: Paris Cullins and Dick Giordano
Writer: Dan Mishkin
Artist: Paris Cullins and Pablo Marcos

When I started Dantastic Comics in 2016, I made a stack of comics from my long boxes that I meant to review for it.  Then I forgot about most them.  I was rummaging around for DC Comics Presents #31 when I found this.  I rescued it from the quarter bin sometime in the dim past and I don't remember if I actually read it or not prior to this.

Some men approach ancient ruins when The Blue Devil springs upon them!  In a nice swerve, it turns out they're part of the Blue Devil movie.  Dan Cassidy, a stuntman, is inside the Blue Devil suit, giving him super strength and other powers.  Right away, this feels more like a Marvel book than a DC book.  Dan is lamenting over being a genius with gizmos but not being able to tell Sharon how he feels.

Anyway, the actors are fucking around inside the ruins and awaken the demon Nebiros.  Sharon comes running to Dan and he puts on the Blue Devil suit to fight off the demon.  See where this is going?

Naturally, the director gets the fight on film.  Nebiros blasts Blue Devil and goes on the rampage.  Blue Devil recovers and battles Nebiros and gets taken out a second time.  The star of the movie distracts the demon long enough for Blue Devil to blast him back into the chamber he came from.  With Nebiros defeated, Blue Devil has no trouble talking to Sharon but find that he can't take the suit off!  He's now Blue Devil forever!

I've never heard of Dan Mishkin but this was an action packed tale.  The dialog had a funny edge to it and it felt like a silver age Marvel tale at times.  I was already a Paris Cullins fan from his work on Blue Beetle not long after this and he did a great job on Blue Devil and Nebiros.

This was a solid first issue and made me want to read more Blue Devil.  I think I have more issues in the long boxes but I'll have to dig.  I can see why this series was never popular but I have to think it had a loyal cult following back in the day.  It's quirky and has a sense of humor about itself, not something that was terribly popular in the post-Watchmen world. It was probably a case of wrong comic, wrong time.  I think a Blue Devil revival would work well today.




That's So Wang! - Plastic Man #1

Plastic Man #1
Cover: Aaron Lopresti
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Adriana Melo

Apart from some appearances in Adventure Comics during the 1980s and the cartoon on Saturday mornings, I didn't have much Plastic Man experience prior to this but I'm a big fan of Gail Simone's other work so I grabbed this when I spotted it down at the comic shop.

Eel O'Brian takes a shit kicking but that's fine, for he is Plastic Man, Cole City's #1 super hero!  Plas is tracking down some old criminal cronies of his to figure out who shot the guard on their last heist and winds up stumbling upon something much bigger.

This is some great shit!  Gail and Adriana look to be doing Plastic Man: Year One here.

First off, I love that the story is set in Cole City, a reference to Jack Cole, the creator of Plastic Man.  Secondly, this is one hilarious yet gritty book.  While he's clearly reformed after the accident that gave him his powers, Plastic Man is plumbing the depths of his criminal past to piece together what happened on his last job.

While Michael Allred would have been my dream artist on this issue, Adriana Melo's art is pretty perfect for the tale.  Plas is cartoony without being too cartoony and the transformation into Wonder Woman was worth the price of admission on its own.

Gail Simone does a great job juggling the humor and the seriousness.  That's hard to do in detective fiction in general and has to be a lot harder when you're dealing with a character like Plastic Man.  It would be easy to descend into ridiculousness when you're dealing with a wisecracking guy made of rubber but Gail sticks the landing.

In today's decompressed times, I don't often feel like I'm getting my money's worth in single issues but this one is stuffed to the gills.  I can't recommend it enough.























My First Comics

I've been a comics fan on and off my whole life, not surprising considering I'm writing this up on my comic blog.  Some of my earliest memories are of flipping through comics when I was a kid.  These are the three earliest I can remember and have re-purchased as an adult.  I remember thumbing through my uncle's Captain America #100 sometime during this time period and I know I had at least one issue of Spider-Man featuring The Wizard and the Trapster and Spidey in a faded costume from around the same time but I haven't identified it as of yet.  The Empire Strikes Back Treasury edition is my early 80's white whale at this point.

Back in the day, most of my comics were purchased at the local drugstore or the Venture a couple towns away.  Remember Venture?  Anyway, here are my first three comics and my impressions of them decades later.

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DC Comics Presents #31
Cover - Ross Andru and Dick Giordano
Writers - Gerry Conway, Bob Rozakis
Artists - Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Dick Giordano, Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta

I was a huge fan of Robin from watching the Superfriends and Batman & Robin at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings, much to the chagrin of my parents so I was all over this.

Now that I've read it decades later, the main tale is pretty hokey.  Robin investigates some mysterious goings on at a circus and finds a brainwashed Superman acting as the strongman.  Robin is also brainwashed and is doing the trapeze act when the circus goes to Metropolis.  Turns out Superman was only faking to find out who was being the hypnosis at the circus and frees Robin.  They beat up the entire circus, including the animals, and save the day.

The backup features the original Robotman waking up in an abandoned mine and wandering out into the world to find 20 years have passed.  After settling things with the gangster who set him up, Robotman's brain is transferred into the cryogenically preserved body of a dead friend of his.

I complain about the decompression of today's comics all the time but each of these tales would have been better if it had taken the entire issue instead of a portion of it.  The main tale was pretty standard fare for 1981, although a little on the short side.  Jose Luis Garcia Lopez's art was as spectacular as always.  Five year old me must be spinning in his grave but I preferred the second tale as an adult.  Alex Saviuk's art wasn't nearly as good as JLGL's but the tale had more punch.

Fun fact: For a couple years after this, I asked my mom for more Superman and Robin comics whenever we went to the drugstore.  Poor Mom.

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The Brave and the Bold #182
Cover - Jim Aparo
Writer - Alan Brennert
Artist - Jim Aparo

I had vague memories of a battle between Batman, the adult Robin of Earth-2, and Hugo Strange for years but had no idea what comic it was until someone posted the cover of this issue on Twitter a few days ago.  Fast forward to yesterday when I found a copy in good condition down at the local comic shop.

Dick Grayson is at Ted Knight's observatory, investigating a strange storm.  Robin and Starman spring into action.  Huge Strange is behind the storm and he snatches Starman's Cosmic Rod! 

A side effect of the storm sees the Batman of Earth-1 winding up in a cemetery in Earth-2's Gotham City, at his own grave!  Robin catches Batman trying to break into Justice Society headquarters.  After a brief skirmish, the Dynamic Duo is reunited.

Huge Strange means to level Gotham City with the Cosmic Rod and Batman and Robin must stop him!  Strange uses the Cosmic Rod to pit the Dynamic Duo against gadgets used by their old enemies AND the 1940s Batmobile.  Batman and Robin deduce that Hugo Strange must be operating out of the Batcave and head there with Batwoman in tow.  After some friction, the trio enters the Batcave and battles the giant robot dinosaur!

After defeating the dinosaur, a robot Batman manhandles all three of them until Robin freezes it with Mr. Freeze's gun from a trophy case and bashes its head in with a rock.  An old decrepit Hugo Strange reveals himself as the mastermind and winds up disintegrating himself with the Cosmic Rod after Batman convinces him that he lured them to the Batcave to kill him because he didn't have the guts to do the deed himself!  Starman sends Batman back to Earth-1 and things are back to normal.

This one stood the test of time fairly well.  There was a lot of action and the tension between Batman and the Robin of Earth-2 helped give the story extra grit.  The twist behind Hugo Strange's motivation was pretty surprising.  I didn't know Starman's Cosmic Rod was so powerful.

Jim Aparo has been my Batman artist of choice for years.  Turns out this issue was probably why.

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The Incredible Hulk #269
Cover - Al Milgrim
Writer - Bill Mantlo
Artists - Sal Buscema

As I said in the intro, I don't think this was my first Marvel comic but it's the first one I can identify.  I had nightmares of the Hulk from the TV show for years so I wonder if my mom bought me this comic to settle me down.

On Kylor, techno-artist Bereet fears she's growing stale, reveals that the Rampaging Hulk stories were fabrications by her, writing them out of continuity, and goes searching for the Hulk.

Bruce Banner, Betty Ross, and Rick Jones are at a secluded lab in the Southwest, looking for a cure for Bruce's condition, as always, when The Hulk-Hunters arrive!

Torgo, Amphibion, and Dark-Crawler show up and Bruce Hulks up.  The Hulk battles the three Hulk Hunters who are actually hunting the Hulk so he'll help them.  As the battle winds down, Empress Daydra shows up and tells the Hulk she needs him to fight the Galaxy Master's champion.  The Hulk leaves with her just as Rick Jones subjects himself to a massive dose of Gamma Rays in a misguided effort to become another Hulk.

I can see why my loyalties shifted toward Marvel after this book.  It holds up a hell of a lot better than the DC Comics Presents issue from a year earlier.  Sal Buscema's art was great for the time period and Mantlo was in his prime.  The Hulk Hunters were an interesting crew.  I remember Torgo from an issue of Marvel Two-In-One that I think came after this and Dark-Crawler used to be called Nightcrawler before the X-Man of the same name was introduced.

The story was one of those cliched misunderstandings but Bruce wanted to destroy himself along with the Hulk was an interesting twist.  Rick's conflict over whether or not to let Banner destroy the Hulk was also cool.  I'm a little sad I don't have the next issue, although I know Rocket Raccoon gets introduced pretty soon.

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The Conclusion:  As an adult, I have to say the issue of The Brave and The Bold was my favorite.  I can see why each of these stuck in my memory for so long after other comics from the same time period faded away.  While none of the comics were earth-shattering, they were all memorable enough to make me a lifelong comics fan.  For that, I'm grateful.





Sunday, June 17, 2018

Silver Surfer Epic Collection: Freedom

Silver Surfer Epic Collection: FreedomSilver Surfer Epic Collection: Freedom by John Byrne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After years of being trapped on earth, The Silver Surfer, sentinel of the spaceways, is free to soar the stars!

The Silver Surfer has always been an enigma to me. Apart from his appearances in other books, I read very little of his appearances until the exemplary run by Michael Allred and Dan Slott. That series awakened a hunger not unlike that of Galactus in me so I picked up this volume. This collection collects material from SILVER SURFER (1982) 1, SILVER SURFER (1987) 1-14, SUPER-VILLAIN CLASSICS 1; EPIC ILLUSTRATED 1, and MARVEL FANFARE (1982) 51.

The book starts with the Silver Surfer still trapped on earth, battling Mephisto for the soul of Shalla Bal. With help from the Fantastic Four, the Surfer is freed and embarks on a series of adventures. The longest story involves the Elders of the Universe and their plan to take down Galactus while a second Kree-Skrull war looms in the background.

Steve Englehart penned most of the book with Marshall Rogers and later, Joe Staton, on art duties. I always associate the Englehart and Rogers for their Batman run but I really enjoyed their Silver Surfer tales. Staton is nearly as good as Rogers, quite adept pencilling at the Surfer's cosmic wanderings. The coloring in this volume looks a little odd, probably because it was meant for newsprint, not high quality quality paper.

Quite a bit of the book is driven by the Silver Surfer's complicated relationship with Galactus and his new herald, Nova, as well as Mantis and Shalla Bal. Did Englehart shoehorn Mantis into every series he did? The Silver Surfer is a bit more complex than I gave him credit for.

The machinations behind the scenes in the brewing war between the Kree and Skrull occupy a fair portion of the book and are heading toward something pretty spectacular in future volumes. One thing I really enjoyed in this volume was how the issues were largely self-contained but clearly part of a bigger whole. I imagine the fourteen issues Englehart penned in this volume would take about fifty in today's Marvel, although the title would probably be rebooted several times before it was finished.

For a bunch of comics 30+ years old, Silver Surfer Epic Collection: Freedom holds up very well. It entertained me quite a bit and made me hungry for more cosmic adventures of the Sentinel of the Spaceways. Four out of five stars.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Black Bolt: Hard Time

Black Bolt, Vol. 1: Hard TimeBlack Bolt, Vol. 1: Hard Time by Saladin Ahmed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Black Bolt wakes up in a prison somewhere in space with no powers and the other inmates are Crusher Creel, aka The Absorbing Man, the Metal Master, and others. Can Black Bolt unite this band of criminals and bust out of jail?

Aside from the Marvel Knights miniseries, I've never ready many Inhumans comics apart from their periodic Fantastic Four appearances. Someone on Twitter likened the series to the sequence in Preludes & Nocturnes when The Sandman met The Martian Manhunter. Now that I've taken the plunge, it kind of fits.

Like I said in the teaser, Black Bolt wakes up in the clink and has to deal with being powerless, complete with being able to speak. After tussling with a couple of the inmates, Black Bolt is killed and resurrected. In fact, all of the prisoners are repeatedly killed and brought back to be killed again by The Jailer.

Saladin Ahmed does a great, believable job in making Black Bolt trust and befriend guys like the Absorbing Man. Hell, he makes the Absorbing Man a sympathetic character at times. Metal Master and the other supporting characters get similar treatment. Why isn't Saladin Ahmed doing a higher profile book? Also, the appearance by Death's Head was really cool. Yah, obscure 90s Marvel characters!

With a title like Hard Time, you know there's a prison break going. After some false starts, I was hooked for the duration. Before I knew it, I'd buzz sawed through the entire collection. Once Lockjaw showed up, it was pretty much academic but I was a little sad at the ending, although it wet my whistle for the next book.

It would have been easy to do a comic about Black Bolt and focusing on his powers but Ahmed focused instead on his (in)humanity and character, making for a great read. Four out of five stars.


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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Chew volume one: Taster's Choice

Chew, Vol. 1: Taster's ChoiceChew, Vol. 1: Taster's Choice by John Layman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Detective Tony Chu is a cibopath, meaning he gets psychic information from everything he eats. When he and his partner bust a black market chicken operation, he finds himself recruited by the FDA. But his new partner, Mason Savoy, is more than he seems...

I've had my eye on Chew for years and finally bit when the first volume went on sale for six bucks. It was well worth it.

As somebody who thinks about food quite a bit, the core idea behind Chew intrigued me. Imagine finding out where your food comes from when you bite into it. The only thing Chew doesn't get information from his beets so he eats a lot of beets. Anyway, Chew's world is one where millions died of bird flu and it's illegal to sell or eat poultry. Or, that's what the government says.

Intrigued yet? Tony Chu finds himself in hot water when he's caught biting a dead suspect's face to learn the names of his victims. The FDA recruits Chu shortly after and it's off to the disturbing races.

Imagine tasting a finger someone found in a sandwich to figure out where it came from. Or taking a bite out of a dead dog to find out what happened in the apartment where it lived? Yeah, Chew is not for the faint of heart. That being said, I liked this crazy shit quite a bit.

Chu is an interesting lead. He's not brave, not great with the ladies, but he's a good detective and a good man. The setting is pretty novel, a world where the FDA is in charge of a great deal more than it is in ours, cracking down on illegal chicken and things of that nature. I even like Mason Savoy quite a bit. Oh, and fuck Applebee, Chu's boss.

John Layman's writing plays things surprisingly straight for the most part, even though some ridiculous shit happens. Rob Guillory's art reminds me of Sam Keith's on The Maxx quite a bit, something I'm a big fan of. John Layman and Rob Guillory created something special here, something that easily could have been a one and done affair, but are clearly playing the long game with Chew. I'm in for the duration. Four out of five stars.

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Micronauts - The Collection Concludes

Here we are, the end of the road.  Previous installments can be found herehereherehere, here, here, and here.  My Micronauts odyssey has been a lot of fun but it ends here.  For now, anyway.


59 - The Micronauts appear to be leaving Baron Karza behind forever.  It's a fitting cover for the last issue of the series.  Kelly Jones, who inked a fair number of issues during the last year, provided the art.  It's a good cover for what it is.

As the Endeavor II charges its engines, the Micronauts ponder all that has transpired and mourn the devastation of Homeworld.  Biotron and Microtron struggle to understand the feelings of their humanoid counterparts. 

Not a lot happens apart from some flashback sequences.  It felt pretty unnecessary, even with Micronauts: The New Voyages on the horizon.  Kelly Jones' art is good but nothing like the art he'd later be known for on stuff like Sandman and Batman.

This issue might have worked better as the first issue of The New Voyages or being skipped all together.  It's kind of a fizzle as an ending or as a transitional issue.

And that's that.  Or would be if I hadn't wrangled an affordably priced copy of Micronauts #8!
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8 - The Micronauts have never had an artist as good as Michael Golden and it's great to see another of his covers.  This one depicts the Micronauts at Baron Karza's feet with Captain Universe coming to the rescue!

Talk about a blast from the past.  The Micronauts are back in Florida, in HELL, to be exact, and Baron Karza is taking on the army.  Dallan and Sepsis, it's weird reading this issue out of sequence.  Force Commander isn't a douche yet but is already a Centaur.  Rann isn't wasting his time meditating.  Microtron is actually funny!  The last year of Micronauts tales didn't have much in the way of humor.

Ray Coffin, as Captain Universe, arrives to save the day.  The Micronauts head back to the Microverse through the Prometheus Pit and intend to seal it behind them but Karza abandons Prometheus' body to give them chase.

The Enigma Force leaves Ray Coffin, letting him have a reunion with his son, Steve. 

This issue would have had a bigger impact on me had I read it in sequence.  As it stands now, it was a reminder of how much the Micronauts lost on their quest to defeat Karza.  It was also a reminder of how often they got pushed into the background on their own book.

Why the hell is this issue so much more expensive than any other Micronauts issue?  Captain Universe has never been popular and probably has made less than 100 appearances in the last 35 years.
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Micronotes:

  • Thus ends the first volume of The Micronauts.  While I'm tempted to track down Micronauts: The New Voyages, I think I'm going to leave things as they are for a while.
  • I'm not sure I want to read any Micronauts martial not written by Bill Manto.  Bill Mantlo is to the Micronauts as Larry Hama is to GI Joe.
  • I'm even less sure about reading the IDW Micronauts series.  After you take away everything Bill Mantlo brought to the table, what's left?
  • There are a couple issues of Cable set in the Microverse.  Again, no Mantlo.
  • I plan on mining the Micronauts for source material for a Dungeons and Dragons game at some point.
  • I've got Mantlo and Guice's next project, Swords of the Swashbucklers on deck.  If I continue suffering from Mantlo withdrawal, I might have to track down ROM.