Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Let's talk about some comics, huh? We haven't done that in awhile.

Adam Strange #7 - For my money, still the best book on the stands. High art it ain't, but it's definitely Fun Comics, which is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for these days. This issue was like the ten minutes in Star Wars that happen between the Millennium Falcon escaping the Death Star and the launch of the Rebel squadron... a nice bit of expository breathing room before the big action of the conclusion. And it worked well, thanks once again to the pacing of Andy Diggle and the right purty art of Pascal Ferry. If the final issue is as good as the previous 7, I may stick around to give Rann/Thanagar War a try.

Power Pack #1 - I never read much of the original Pack, but this looked fun so I figured I'd give it a shot. Not necessarily the most intelligent comic book you're ever going to read, but it was decent. Marc Sumerak's story was light, breezy fun, and in the space of 22 pages clearly defined each of the characters' personalities and the feel of the world they inhabit. A lot of folks who write so-called "mature" comics can't pull that off anymore, so it's a real treat to see that in an all-ages book. The manga-lite art style of Gurihiru is the perfect accompaniment here... serious enough to depict the action scenes well, but fun enough to reflect the tone. The Franklin Richards back-up story by Sumerak and Chris Eliopoulous was fun, too, placing the Fantastic Four’s firstborn in a "Dexter’s Laboratory" type story that manages to do something no one else in the history of Marvel has ever been able to do: make HERBIE the robot fun. No small feat. Anyway, lately I've been looking for comics I'll be able to read with Liam once he's old enough, and I think this may work nicely. Great for the kids and fun enough to keep the adults interested.

Superboy & The Legion of Super-Heroes #241-245 – Some people have said that “Earthwar,” the storyline running through these issues of Paul Levitz’s first run as Legion scribe, was a better story than the much vaunted “Great Darkness Saga.” Having now read them both, I’m inclined to agree. This is the big Legion story done right. The group is spread thin throughout the galaxy due to various assignments, and is therefore unprepared for the increasingly deadly series of events that threaten Earth and, ultimately, all of the United Planets. It’s a slow build over the first four issues, as each of the threats they face turn out to be manipulated by still higher powers all the way up the line to one of their single greatest foes. And since Legionnaires are picked off every step of the way, the handful remaining come time for the final battle seem hopelessly overmatched (even if one of ‘em is Superboy), so you really are left wondering how they’re going to pull it all off. This is over-the-top superhero melodrama at its finest. The art is sometimes inconsistent, and the ultimate conclusion kinda left me asking “well, why didn’t they just think of doing that in the first place?,” but the overall story is such great fun that I was easily able to overlook all that.

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery... As Told by Sabrina #2 – As if the idea of a horror book produced by Archie Comics wasn’t odd enough, this one also happens to be drawn by Dan DeCarlo in his traditional “bigfoot” comedic style. And on top of all that, we get Sabrina the Teenage Witch subbing for the Crypt Keeper. Weird as all hell, I tells ya. As you can imagine, the stories in this book are pretty toothless. They tread pretty well-worn horror territory (man turned into monster, cursed jewelry, etc.), and never really get even particularly creepy, much less scary, but still, this is a horror book by Archie, drawn by Dan DeCarlo, starring Sabrina. Isn’t that enough? If I have any complaints at all, it’s that none of the stories feature the traditional Archie characters (Sabrina herself only ever gets a headshot on the first page of each story). Who wouldn’t want to see Betty murder Veronica with an axe, or Jughead feasting on Reggieburgers? Missed opportunities galore!

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