Monday, January 10, 2005

The reviews are new, the comics are not.

I skipped New Comics Day last week and enjoyed a few Old Comics Days instead, thanks to stuff found at a show in South Attleboro, MA, the weekend before and a book I picked up at Wizard World Philly last May that I just finally got around to reading (I get a little behind sometimes). As usual, I found OCD far preferable to NCD (that doesn't look right at all, but I'm too lazy to go back and fix it, and you get what I mean anyway).

Strange Adventures 182 – There’s a fun Star Hawkins story by Dave Wood and Gil Kane here that’s a play on the old Noir chestnut of the no-good blonde bombshell who’s stringing along the smitten gumshoe, except with Martian revolutionaries and Ilda, the robot secretary, of course. Ilda really steals the show here, going to Lucille Ball-esque lengths to do most of the actual detective work while Star just makes goo-goo eyes the whole time. Some really fantastic artwork by Gil Kane on that one. Not as stylized as his later work, but definitely headed there (and much better than his Green Lantern work, IMHO). Gil could draw dames with the best of ‘em back in the day. The main attraction, though, is the cover, featuring a monster whose glare can turn men to diamond, which DC kindly censored so that we, the readers, wouldn’t get transmogrified as well. You didn’t see much of that kind of editorial protectiveness past the Silver Age. This just may be one of my favorite comic covers ever; too bad the story accompanying story isn’t all that good (and yes, we’re similarly shielded from Tarku’s peepers on the inside, too; just another public service from the folks at DC Editorial!).

New Adventures of Superboy 51 – I think this book is probably looked at as one of the red-headed stepchildren of early 80s DC, but I always dug its Weisinger-era throwback style, which of course would soon come to a screeching halt thanks to Crisis. Anyway, this expands upon the old story of Superboy’s last day in Smallville and details his decision to move to Metropolis. In the retro-Silver Age fashion the book was famous for, his decision is based on a completely ridiculous set of circumstances which I’m not going to spoil here; the fun in stuff this cheesy is reading it yourself. But in the meantime, we get to meet Clark’s college roommates (one of whom jokingly suggests Superboy should set up shop at the North Pole so he can watch over the entire world, causing Clark to kind of wink at the “camera”), as well as a 30ish Perry White, who plans to win his second Pulitzer by proving the Boy of Steel has set up shop in the city (Superboy’s decision to leave Smallville was big news, apparently, and every major city in the DCU America wanted to claim him as their own). The story by Bob Rozakis was in no danger of winning a Pulitzer itself, but it’s fun (as the Answer Man’s work always was), and on top of everything else (literally), you get a great Frank Miller cover which itself is worth the price of admission.

Legion of Super-Heroes (Vol. 3) 1 – Now here’s how you handle a title relaunch. We get a reference to past events (Mon-El, Shadow Lass and others helping rebuild Daxam after the events of the Great Darkness Saga), some character bits (Star Boy and Dream Girl on vacation at a casino world; Lightning Lass, or maybe it’s Light Lass at this point, easing into post-Legion life on a commune), action sequences (a prison break at Takron-Galtos led by a Darkseid crazed Daxamite teen, a robbery attempt at the aforementioned casino) and portents of evil to come (the reformation of the Legion of Super-Villains, it’s sinister recruitment drive, the kidnapping of Lightning/Light Lass, and Lightning Lord’s pledge to murder his bro or die trying). Paul Levitz gets the ball rolling on a new storyline (and a new book, on the fancy Baxter paper and everything) and while managing to make things actually happen at the same time. Set-up AND forward progression in the space of a single issue? Why, that’s unheard of today! It’s literary anarchy, I tell you. Sigh… once upon a time, we used to get actual content in our comic books. Don’t you miss that?

Paul, come back to writing comics! We beg you! All pulpings will be forgiven!
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