Thursday, May 27, 2010

Truth in Advertising.

Written by PAUL DINI • Art and cover by GUILLEM MARCH

Poison Ivy's new job as a research technician may have her working undercover, but that doesn't mean a new threat to Gotham City will stay secret! Dr. Pamela Isley is spotlighted in this special issue of GOTHAM CITY SIRENS.

Got some new posts in the pipeline, including more Thor, so stay tuned for that. But I was looking at the solicitation copy for some DC Comics that came out yesterday, and noticed the above.

Now, maybe I'm crazy, but if you're spotlighting a character in a "special issue", wouldn't it be in everyone's best interests to have that character on the cover? And yes, I see the ivy at the bottom left. That may be a subtle way to suggest said featured character, but does anybody think it's effective? Besides the artist and editor, that is? But wait- perhaps this is suggesting that hey- Ivy's undercover, and she's so undercover that she couldn't be there to pose seductively for the cover artist! Yeah, that's it! Genius! Also, the cover creator credits don't match the solicitation creator credits. Really- WTF is going on at DC these days?

Nitpicky, I know, and I don't even buy this comic. But I wanted to post something, OK?

ETA: d. has the skinny on this in the comments. Still, that's mighty shoddy marketing there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Stephen Perry, RIP.

I don't know exactly where this will go, but I know I have to write something, and the words are coming even harder than usual. I sincerely hope this is premature, and if that turns out to be the case I'll gladly take it down. It's gonna ramble, too, so please forgive.

In 2003, I wrote a longish blog post extolling the virtues of the short-lived mid-1980's Epic Comics series Timespirits. At some point a few months later, I had become part of a collective comics blog called "Four Color Hell" (I had completely forgotten about that blog!), and re-posted the Timespirits piece there, where it came to the attention somehow of the series' co-creator and scripter, Stephen Perry. He sent me an email on April 5, 2004:

To the 4 color hell guy: thanks for the kind words. I should like very much to bring back Timespirits, first as a reprint for the generation that has come since I left comics, and then as the continuing series I had always envisioned. The Timespirits graphic novel "Doot Lives" never was published, and the script remains in a drawer, along with many other adventures of Cusick. I've tried to contact Tom (Yeates) but this is only the third week I have entered into the world of the internet -- surprised anyone remembers. After whoring on Thundercats and Silverhawks, and losing a major motion picture deal, I bummed and, while writing all these years, have published nothing since 1991.

Well, of course, I was excited to hear from him like that, so I replied, and we exchanged a couple of emails back and forth afterwards. Mostly just small talk type stuff, a little about the series and so on. I didn't hear from him again until February of 2006, when out of the blue he emailed me to let me know that things were looking good for Timespirits to be collected and published again, and to ask me if I'd mention it here, which I did. Another couple of emails went back and forth, and that was it. About a year later, after seeing no TS collection, I asked him how it was coming along, and he told me that they had had issues with the printing, among other things, and didn't know if it would happen or not. Disappointing, but that stuff happens. After that, I heard little else from him save for an occasional forwarding of some political-type email or somesuch, no more than a couple...and thought nothing of it until I saw Steve Bissette's urgent update and appeal in his behalf with its dismaying news. I wanted to try and do something, anything, and eventually I sent along a small amount, nowhere near what I would like to have sent, thinking that something was better than nothing. After the first contribution I made, he emailed me expressing gratitude and filling me in on what had happened since the last time we exchanged emails, and his tale was horrifying. Shocking. I was heartsick for days after reading it. It was worse than Bissette had let on in his post. I briefly considered doing some sort of illustration, perhaps to auction on eBay and raise some money for him, but alas as so often is the case the plan came to naught. While I didn't have a lot of money to contribute, I did remember that the Hero Initiative was around to look out for comics creators who had fallen down on their luck, and I emailed Gail Simone, who I knew had worked with them before and might be able to tell me how I could get the HI involved. After I had sent her one of Perry's emails so she could read for herself how bad it was, she contacted them herself and got Perry a little assistance. May she be blessed for getting involved. I was very happy to hear this and hoped that perhaps things might be looking up for him and his little boy...but that turned out to not be the case. After that, I continued to get the occasional email from Steve, updating me on his status and occasionally asking for money; I did send a little more, just a drop in the bucket. Eventually, it looked like he was going to get the medical treatment he needed, and he sounded optimistic and ready to write again. But, the surgery and its aftermath went horribly wrong, and his life devolved into what surely sounded like a living hell, which culminated in the terrible news reported over the weekend. His last email, with the subject line of "Farewell" (the preceding one was named "Death"), was so depressing I couldn't reply. I didn't know what to say or do, and I regret not trying to come up with something now. Who knows- he might not have been able to have read it anyway, but at least I would have tried.

I don't want to come across as self-serving. Perry and I were only acquaintances, and Internet acquaintances at that. We all have them here, some of us more than others- people we interact with frequently and in a friendly manner in chat rooms and Twitter and whatnot, but have never met, and most likely never will. My admiration for his work began and ended with Timespirits, a comics work which moved me more that I can reasonably explain (and I know that Thomas Yeates probably had a lot to do with that as well). I'll come out right up front and admit that while I did read, and promptly forgot, a lot of his other Marvel stories in publications like Bizarre Adventures and Epic Illustrated, I freely ignored other work like the Thundercats and Silverhawks stuff, based on cartoons my son watched and not especially interesting to me. Figured he was paying the bills by doing that; little did I know back then. But there was just something about the 'Spirits comic that grabbed my imagination and emotion like few others have. All this said, I was delighted to have known Perry as well as I did, and was honored to help in the insignificant way that I did. I always hoped that I'd be able to buy new comics that he had scripted, and perhaps someday attend a convention in which he would be a guest. After this past weekend, though, this is unlikely to ever happen. Until the grisly remains are identified as his, there's always a slim chance he'll be found or will turn up...but since the police are already treating this as a homicide case, I'd say that's very unlikely. I worry about his young son going forward; from his emails, (and I want to be diplomatic and not make insinuations I can't prove or back up) I'm not sure that his situation is the best for him right now. I hope that concerned parties keep an eye on this. I also hope that Stephen, if he is indeed gone, is in a better place now, free from pain, where he can write to his heart's content. I am, and was, proud to have been his "Internet friend".

Two more things: first, when I sent a money order to him last year, I also enclosed the original to the quick pencil sketch I did of the Timespirits, link above, since it looked like I was never going to do it up right. In return, after complimenting the drawing (he said "Not Yeates, for sure, but not too awful"- high praise to me!), he asked if I'd be willing to draw a 2-3 page TS story if hr wrote one for me. I told him that I didn't want to make promises I couldn't keep, but I would try. For the first time anywhere, here is the story he wrote (and I've cleaned up the spelling and such just a bit):

Tentative Title: The Arrow Heard Round The World

Cusick is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at a thermal vent collect a weird sea animal that lives in the extreme water heated by magma. He needs this critter to finish a potion that will save the planet ...

We go into flashback panels here to tell what has happened, to tell the bulk of the story:
Doot is practicing with a bow and arrow, shooting at a target of some sort. (George Bush photo? Cheny? Osama? Something funny.) He has shot a lot of arrows and is reaching for another one in a quiver.
Cusick is appearing, to shout: NOT THAT ONE!
But he is too late, Doot has let the arrow fly.

The arrow will not stop at the target. In fact ... it WILL NOT STOP AT ALL ...FOR ANYTHING!
(This arrow is, in effect, an idea stolen from the first Men in Black movie. In MiB Will Smith is brought to HQ for the first time and he knocks that little ball from it's mooring, and the little ball, over the next twenty seconds, careens around HQ smashing through everything and bouncing all around until Tommy Lee Jones stops it. That thing, Jones explained in the movie, caused the Eastern Seaboard blackout in 1979.)

Our arrow is the same concept. Once released ... it will not stop, smashing through everything -- targets, walls, cars, bridges, buildings, mountains ... as Cusick and Doot chase it, Cusick trying to throw a potion on it that will stop it -- which he does and the potion does not work, at which point he remembers he needed one final ingredient for the potion -- which is a little critter found only at the thermal vents at the bottom of the pacific.

We've wrapped to the thermal vent by now, and the potion is complete, but Cusick and Doot still can't catch the arrow -- it has gone right through the center of the earth and Cusick picks up Doot and the chase at the point of its emerging.

It should cause tons more damage before Cusick and Doot finally are just about to catch it as it heads toward some famous theater or arena or something like Madison Square Garden or the Hollywood Bowl or something ... a name is on the marquee.
Cusick manages to throw the potion on the arrow just before it zooms into the theater ...
to hit ...
in the head.
The last panel is, yes, Steve Martin, with his banjo and the stupid "arrow through the head" as he performs, with Doot and Cusick in the wings.

That's it.


How cool is that, anyway? I laughed out loud when I read the revelation at the end. I'm not sure exactly who owns the copyright to these characters, so I'll just say they're © Thomas Yeates and let it go at that. Perhaps this falls under the Creative Commons thing (which I've ever understood all that well). I tried to be true to my word, but except for a couple of hastily scribbled attempts at laying out the opening scene, I did not live up to my promise, sorry to say.

Finally, I want to post some Timespirits pages that came to mind, months ago, when I first heard of Perry's plight, and echo somewhat the hopes of those (this may be presumptive of me, but I hope anyway) who knew him and loved him. In these pages, we see the aftermath of their final battle with the Spirit Eater on a mountain in Tibet; an unfortunate result is the death of Doot, Cusick's young companion and fellow Timespirit. Something must be done with all the souls the Eater captured, including Doot's, and the High Lama knows what to do. Apologies if I spoil. Click to view them bigger, of course.

The last page, below, of not only this issue but (as it turned out) the series as a whole, and one of the absolute best endings I've ever read in a comics series, never fails to move me, and I find it hard to express exactly why. Each character featured in the previous seven issues- Three Birds and the Bloodless Ghebe, Princess Pey and Tubal Carrin, the human/dinosaur spaceship captain and her prehistoric ancestor, which Doot encountered on a trip to the past (long story); Thorneypaws and her manager (no Hendrix, though), the High Lama and the Yeti Spirit Eater, all come out and take a bow. Then, they turn (and it's implied that the applause is louder and louder) back to the curtain, expecting someone else (again, implied, Doot and Cusick and perhaps the Talking Fish, last seen in Cusick's frying pan) to come out and take their turn...but no one comes. It's left for Three Birds, Doot's unfortunate brother from the very first issue, to have the final word: a shrug. I thought this was absolutely brilliant.

Goodbye, Mr. Perry, if such this is. I hope you have found peace.

For more: Steve Bissette, part one and part two. Also, Nat Gertler, Rich Johnston, and Mark Evanier.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Still I am Mightiest of Them All!" Part 2: Mighty Thor #'s 144-168 (1967-69)

Continuing to look back at some 1967-1969 issues of The Mighty Thor that I recently read.

#145 picks up where last issue left off, with the aftermath of Thor's battle with the Enchanters (two of them anyway), and dealing with being stuck on Earth with Sif and Balder, powerless
and unable to return to Asgard to aid Odin in his battle with the third member of the terrible trio.

Recap: Having bested Brona and Magnir in battle, Thor turns the equally powerless pair over to the police. We then abruptly head back to Asgard, and witness Odin, last seen rocketing through the cosmos in a fireball with Forsung, the third Enchanter, standing over his vanquished foe, just like that, and loudly proclaiming "you better recognize", or at least what passes for that in Asgard. I mean really- check these pages out for some truly epic chest beating:

Now that is some cold blooded shit right there. Having dispensed righteous godly justice, Odin turns his attention to his son and his entourage, restoring their powers and summoning them home. But.

Thor isn't so sure that he should go back home, because he has grown attached to Earth and believes (rightly so) that he can do much good as Dr. Donald Blake, and says as much to Odin, which pisses Odin off no end because he's just got done kicking Enchanter butt and doesn't want any lip from his wuss of a son. In another ongoing theme that was happening before this run and probably continued for a long time after, Odin decides to teach Thor yet another lesson and says "OK, fine, you want to stay on Earth? Then you can stay- but without your powers! Because I don't want any more of your lip!" And that's just what happens. Now, I don't really understand why Thor just couldn't get a haircut and continue to practice medicine as Dr. Blake, but apparently that's out of the question so he decides to go out and find a job, no easy task for a long-haired young man in 1967. But look who Thor winds up running into:

Yep, the freaking Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime! Small world, isn't it? Thor is apparently unaware that the Circus of Crime and its slimy Ringmaster have battled the Hulk and Spider-Man, this being the Marvel Universe of 1967 and not the Marvel Universe of 2010 (crossovers were more limited, even then), so when they ask him to try out for the vacant strongman position, he is more than happy to oblige and demonstrates his might for them:

The Ringmaster, slimy bastard that he is, returns the favor by hypnotizing Thor with his hat, and instructs him to carry a giant bull made out of lead (colored brown by the colorist- oops) for fifty paces before setting it down. Thor succeeds, of course, and Ringy reveals his true plot- they want to steal a giant calf made of solid gold, and need someone strong enough to lift it, then carry it to a waiting conveyance. More on the actual heist next issue, next time.

The Arabian Nights-inspired "Tales of Asgard" backfeature concludes this issue, as Thor and the Warriors Three, with the help of Prince Aladdin, I mean Alibar, use magic and might to defeat the evil wizard Mogul and rescue Hogun's people in the land of Zanadu. Volstagg gets to carry his big-ass cannon around for a while too. Ya gotta love Volstagg- check out the page at right, and the aftermath of the abrupt defeat of Mogul:

Comments: I'm a father, I understand a little about parenting, but the constant "gotta teach Thor humility" events that were a hallmark of this comics' golden era kinda strained the old disbelief meter a bit. Still, this was 1967, and the Generation Gap, with parents and their difficulties with their kids (and vice versa) was very much on everyone's minds at that time- and of definite interest to the Counterculture crowd that Marvel was aiming at in those days. So Thor kept getting "bugged at his old man" for a long, long time.

Boy, talk about odd dramatics- the sudden end of the Odin/Forsung battle came across almost as an afterthought. I would have thought it would have been stretched out for more drama, but I guess that wasn't the case. I wonder if Kirby drew a battle, but they decided to leave it out because of space considerations?

It shows how used to today's comics I am, I suppose, that I find it hard to believe that Thor didn't recognize the Ringmaster and his outfit...I mean, he was in the Avengers, for heaven's sake, and I know it was early on but surely they had files on all the costumed creeps, even then!

Kirby's art is often very powerful in places this issue; I was especially impressed by the staging and the bulky, strong figures of Odin and the fallen Enchanter on page 3. I liked his Ringmaster, as well- Kirby drew him fiddling with his gloves a lot, and generally made him look as unctuous as he could be. I usually associate the character with Steve Ditko, since they were regular Spidey foes for a while there, but I guess Kirby was first, when they appeared in an early issue of The Hulk.

Next time, will Thor help the Ringmaster get his golden calf, and what will replace the Tales of Asgard?

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Movie Year, the conclusion.

OK, now to finish what I should have finished a long time ago, a look back at the films I watched in 2009.


Blood Simple
The Blood Waters of Dr. Z aka Zaat

I though Jumpers was fast-paced and fun; no classic by any stretch but a good time-waster with a decent cast and few dead spots. Blood Simple was the only Coen Bros. film I hadn't seen, and I'm sorry I waited so long. It isn't as polished and quirky as their subsequent films would be, but it's no less well written and full of memorable characters. Blood Waters, also known as Zaat!, aired as part of Turner Classic Movies' Underground late night showcase for Psychotronic cinema; it's a dull grade-z dud that I had been curious about for a long time. Now I can check it off the list and happily live the rest of my life without seeing it again! October, especially on the 31st, is usually a big movie-watching month for me, but the usual cable network suspects didn't air the expected Halloween marathons and the films they did screen I'd already seen many times. Hopefully 2010 will be better. I also held on to Blood Simple for a long time before I finally watched it.


Johnny Mercer: The Dream's on Me
Run, Fatboy, Run
Role Models
American Scary
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
It Takes a Thief
The Devil and Daniel Webster aka All That Money Can Buy

I kinda picked up the pace in November; the Mercer documentary aired on TCM, and was an interesting look at the legendary songwriter who wrote such standards as "Moon River" and two longtime favorite songs of mine, "Skylark" and "Drinking Again". Milk told the story of slain San Francisco political figure Harvey Milk; the period detail looked good and Sean Penn was excellent in the title role. Taken had Liam Neeson giving a typically solid performance in a often ludicrous kidnap rescue action thriller. It was fun as long as you didn't think about it too hard. Fatboy was the Simon Pegg vehicle in which he trains for a marathon to impress the girl he loves; not top-flight Pegg, but he was likeable as ever in the role and there were a few laughs here and there. Role Models surprised me a lot; I expected another lame comedy with Hollywood life lessons and/or juvenile fart and tit jokes, but it turned out to be a good, and often very funny, little account of two slackers who wind up having to mentor two misfit kids. American Scary was a documentary on TV horror movie show hosts; I rented it hoping to see some footage of Sir Cecil Creape, the fondly remembered (by me, anyway) 70's horror host that I watched faithfully on Nashville's NBC Channel 4 in my teenage years. Sure enough, Sir Cecil got some screen time, but not as much as others- some of which, like Zacherley and Ghoulardi, I had heard of and many I hadn't. Worth a look if you're interested in the subject. Keanu Reeves sleepwalked through the unnecessary remake of Day the Earth Stood Still, no big surprise but at least he was playing an alien. Don't know what the rest of the cast's excuse was, including one annoying kid with big hair. Thief was some classic Hitchcock I hadn't seen, very enjoyable. Finally, one of my favorite films- the excellent 1941 version of Devil and Daniel Webster, imaginatively staged and featuring excellent turns by Walter Huston as Mr. Scratch, and the stunning Simone Simon as a literal nanny from Hell.


Breaker Morant
A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge)
Drag Me to Hell
Gran Torino
Four Wives
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Indestructible Man

The death of Edward Woodward prompted me to finally get around to screening Breaker Morant; it was a gripping drama with a fine perf by Woodward as the lead. Usually, a little Will Farrell goes a long way with me, and so I was fully prepared to ignore Semi-Pro, even though it was a film that was loosely based on the real-life American Basketball Association, which I loved as a kid. Happened to catch it on HBO one afternoon, and wound up liking it a lot more than I expected- sure, Farrell was doing his usual clueless buffoon schtick, but the supporting cast was great and the situations, many based on ABA stunts I recall, were very funny. Every year at Christmas, I watch 1951's Scrooge, which is one of my favorite films period and features what I consider to be one of the best performances in the history of cinema, Alastair Sim's portrayal of the title character. The supporting cast is excellent as well, featuring many vets of British stage and screen at the time (including young Patrick MacNee, who appears (as an older man, in the 1990s) on my DVD in a completely pointless color introduction) as well as gorgeously oppressive and gloomy black and white photography. When Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday one year in the 70's, Sir Cecil Creape (see above) screened this on "Creature Features", it was so gothic; I saw it for the first time, and I've made it a point to watch it pretty much every year since. Drag Me to Hell was a bit of a disappointment; Sam Raimi's energetic return to horror was sabotaged by an unlikable heroine and some (admittedly typical for Raimi) scenes that came across as a bit more goofy than I think they were intended. I liked Gran Torino; Clint Eastwood's grouchy, bigoted old man who gradually comes to accept his foreign neighbors was a very good role for him, and was often touching without overdoing it. Four Wives was the sequel to Four Daughters, which starred my Forties inamorata Priscilla Lane and her sisters, along with Claude Rains as their dad and John Garfield as a bad-boy love interest. Wives brought most of the cast back (sans Garfield) and caught us up on what they were doing later; it was an enjoyable soapy time-waster, and of course you all know I can watch Priscilla in pretty much anything. Finally, the last thing I watched in 2009, on Netflix's "watch it now" on New Year's Eve, was the MST3K episode that spotlighted an old el cheapo Lon Chaney thriller called The Indestrucible Man. I had seen that film many times growing up on Nashville Channel 5's afternoon Big Show, but I thought it would be fun to see what Crow, Tom Servo and Joel brought to it, and I wasn't disappointed- much fun.

And that's all, folks! I'm keeping a movie diary this year, too, so perhaps I'll do this again in 2011.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Still I am Mightiest of Them All!" Part 1: Mighty Thor #'s 144-168 (1967-69)

Recently, while scrolling through my Google Reader feeds, I came across a site which features pics of a lot of original artwork from various publishers and years of comics. This particular post had several examples of original Jack Kirby art, specifically pages from his run on The Mighty Thor. This made me realize that it has been ages since I read any of this stuff (and to be honest, I didn't always buy Thor on a regular basis back then, when I was a preteen), and I didn't recall what happened in a great deal of it. So, I decided to go track some down and see what I thought about it now. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found a run of mid-late '60s Thors from 1967-1969, the waning days of what we've all come to understand as the Classic Period of Marvel- and after having read them, I thought it might be interesting to recap them. So, shall we begin?

#144: As it turned out, #144 was the conclusion (of sorts, more on that later) of a multi-issue account of Thor and Odin's battle (aided by Lady Sif and Balder) with a trio of typically weird-ass Kirby godlike badguys called the Enchanters, one of which was in the possession of something called the Living Talisman.

Recap: As we join Thor, Balder, and Sif on Earth, apparently the lady and her escort have found Thor (or perhaps Don Blake, he was still changing back and forth at this time) in what I assume is Blake's apartment, and have informed him of the threat. As they converse in flowery Stan Lee pseudo-biblical godspeak, they're startled to see a green blotch of Kirby Krackle in the window, in which a face soon appears, Wizard of Oz-like- it's the Living Talisman! Basically, the Talisman just wants to tell them that they can't hide, and throws in a few pithy "thou art stupid fools"-type remarks before he's done, as you can see below. We meet Brona and Magnir for the first time this ish, the Larry and Curly of the trio. Dig those Kirby-designed masks:

And yea verily, this battle is joined! Thor, noble as ever, chooses to fight the pair alone, and Balder and Sif are left behind as the fighters ascend on a hunk of rock into the air, and do battle- the Enchanters' science tricks against Thor's hammer and his godlike strength, bragging and boasting about how powerful each of them are the whole while. Pay attention, kids, this is a reoccurring thing for the whole of this run. Meanwhile, Odin's up in Asgard, hosting/judging some sort of Great Outdoor Fight-type event, when the festivities are interrupted by the Moe of the trio, Forsung. After more bragging and declarations, they decide to have a fight to the death, a la Cole Younger and Belle Starr's would-be lover in The Long Riders, except instead of Bowie knives and a sash tying their wrists together, they both grasp a phallic symbol, I mean a scepter, and zoom off into space in a big fireball.

Unbeknownst to Thor and Co., still battling on Earth, Odin agrees to take away the powers of the other Asgardians (I guess to prevent unwanted interventions), and Forsung promises not to avail himself of the Talisman- and that makes things a wee bit more difficult. But feareth not, Thor prevails due to his righteous might or something like that, applying a royal butt kicking to Brona and Magnir, and the trio are left on Earth, unable to return to Asgard, and must anxiously await the outcome of the "All-Father"'s conflict.

There's a back feature in this issue, more of the "Tales of Asgard" feature that ran in the book and allowed Kirby to stretch his imagination a bit more. This one seems to be an Arabian Nights inspired arc, in which Thor and the Warriors Three strive to defeat a wizard named "Mogul", who is able to summon demon riders in the service of Satan, no less (and exactly why again did they have to call the obviously Satan-like character in Silver Surfer "Mephisto"?) on a flying carpet, with the help of a "Prince Alibar". At the end, we are rewarded by this sight:


Comments: One of the biggest hurdles I've had to overcome, reading not just this but any of the classic 1963-1970 Marvel output is just how awfully florid and stilted much of the dialogue is- not like DC's from the period, mind you, which was often even worse in its own way. I notice this more when it's Lee writing comic/magic characters like Doc Strange and Thor; his FF and Spider-Man had a more naturalistic "sound", and the humor and wit he could bring stood out because of it. Of course, the bad guys postured and pontificated just like here, but when the good guys are doing it too it gets tiresome- I can only take so much "I can't believe you dare challenge me because I am all-powerful and mighty and so on".

There's also a little soap-opera subplot going on in which Thor's bud Balder is secretly crushing on the Lady Sif, who of course has eyes only for ol' Blondie. I suppose Lee and Kirby were going for a Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot thing, and I'm not far enough along in my rereading to know if it was explored any further.

The Kirby art is, of course, full of action and energy, and it shines through despite the typically grubby-looking Vince Colletta inks. I don't intend to let this series of posts turn into a Vinnie-bashing exercise, but one can't help but wish he'd done romance comics or something else all his career and never got to touch a single Kirby page, not only here but on New Gods and other projects. He was a skilled craftsman, and was great with deadlines, I understand that...but his scratchy line and penchant for omitting background (and often foreground) details are just hard to take. I don't think the Enchanters' costumes will go down in the annals of Great Kirby Costume Design...they're a slapdash, mix-and-match set of togs, with a half a dozen different things going on with each part of the body. Brona's helmet has a weird-ass looking expression, with the eye slits so far apart. The manifestation of the Living Talisman on the chest plate of their armor is interesting- reminds of the little holograms that were placed on some of the toys from my kids' childhoods- Transformers or M.A.S.K., perhaps?

In a lot of ways, the "Tales" feature gave us more of the high myth-based adventure that you'd think you'd get with a Thor-based property- at this time, the main stories were full of the cosmic epics that readers had come to expect from Stan and jack since the Galactus trilogy. I think those are collected now; I think they might be fun to read someday.

Coming eventually (you know how I am...I won't make promises I can't keep): #145, and the fate of Odin!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back.

I used to review comics on this blog, you know. But I kept getting more and more behind, and the amount of new comics I was getting and reading was directly inversely proportioned to my desire to write about I finally said "enough". I needed to stop for a while. And thusly, I left the below post in draft status since about a week before Thanksgiving of last year.

Until now.

Frankly, I'm tired of seeing it in the draft queue. So, I thought I could either finish the darn thing, or post it as is for all to see and shake their heads at. Typically, I chose the latter. So here's the post, in all its incomplete glory, and now I only have 3 posts in my draft queue! Hooray! Listed at the end is the insurmountable mountain of comics I had yet to review.

Yes, here's another CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, in which I opine in shortish fashion about comics that I have bought and/or received and/or read in the interval between October 29th and November 12th, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be.

And, yeah, I'm still way behind, so please bear with me as I look at comics you read and most likely forgot about three weeks ago...

ABE SAPIEN: THE HAUNTED BOY: Poor Abe just can't seem to keep from getting the short straw when it comes to one-shots, can he? A recycled Twilight Zone plot combined with grubby Patric Reynolds art might yank someone's crank, but not mine. D+

AMBUSH BUG: YEAR NONE #6: God only knows what happened to the real #6, but I guess it doesn't really matter. While this series certainly had its share of fun and yuks, (and a fair amount of rambling aimlessness as well, let's be fair) it was defeated mostly because no matter how hard Giffen and Fleming tried to poke fun, nothing is sillier than what's being presented as canon in the ongoings this sought to ridicule. The battle was lost before the war was waged. If this leads to Fleming getting a regular gig somewhere again (assuming he wants one), though, it will have been a success. B-

ASSAULT ON NEW OLYMPUS #1: Basically, this is Incredible Hercules Annual #1, what with the same writers and one of the artists currently doing the ongoing, so I guess it's just Herc's perpetually anemic sales figures that prompted this stand-alone, which fits right between epics in Herc's own book. While there's no tittie-twisting this time out, it's an enjoyable bridge to not only the ongoing but, I assume, another of Marvel's multi-title crossover events I really have no desire to follow. A-

BEASTS OF BURDEN #2: In which the WE3 effect comes into play once more; if you don't want to hug your pets after reading this, especially if you have dogs, well, you're a more cynical, heartless bastard than I (or Dorkin, for that matter), Gunga Din. As always, Jill Thompson's watercolor art is sensational. A-

Fairly routine update/rejiggering of the Widow's origins, marred by the jarring transition between xxx's slick, modern-comics art on the modern-day events and J.P. Leon's more aesthetically pleasing, illustrator-ish work on the flashbacks. What's more logical than to have the Winter Men's artist on a tale of an ambiguously timed old Mother Russia? If this only had some of Winter Men's style, this would be worth your time. C+


xxx= didn't know the artists' name when I wrote it, and I'm too lazy to look it up now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

Word has gone out that the great Frank Frazetta is dead of a stroke at 82.

I first became aware of him primarily as the guy who did those dynamic and evocative Warren magazine covers when they hit the magazine racks in the mid-1960's; although, ironically enough, the first one I ever bought (well, OK, had bought for me) didn't sport one of his paintings on the front, I know without a doubt the second one did, and I loved looking at the others in house ads, and as they came out on new releases. Eventually, as a teen, I discovered the many paperback covers he did, most notably the Conan series, and began to find out how he fit in with his contemporaries and the influence he had on some of my favorites of the time, most notably Berni Wrightson. He was one of the greats, and almost more of a larger-than-life figure than many of the characters he brought to life.

If you haven't seen the documentary Frazetta: Painting with Fire, that's a good place to start, and I'm sure many of the usual suspects will be posting links to many places where you can get an idea of the legacy he's leaving.