It's Friday night, the wife's away for the evening and the kid's asleep. Y'all know what that means... time to kick off a series of short reviews of some of the comics I've been reading the last few months. Aw, yeah!

Honestly, I'm so glad Erin consented to marry me, because I really don't think any other woman on Earth would have me.

Anyway, to get started, here’s some of the more memorable stuff I picked up at Wizard World Boston:

Action Comics 436 - "The Super Cigars of Perry White." With a title like that, it must be Elliot S! Maggin. So yeah, mutant children from, uh, someplace, either the future or another planet, pay back the solid Perry did for them in a previous issue by giving him a box of cigars that grant him superpowers. The usual hijinks, including the inevitable "GASP! Perry White is Superman!" mutterings, ensue. Overlooking the fact that this is the rare comic to tout the benefits of smoking, it's really a lot of fun. I love 70s Superman comics... they tried so hard to make Supes seem relevant to the era, and yet they were completely unashamed to occasionally use plots that would make even Mort Weisinger blush (especially when Maggin or Cary Bates was at the wheel). God bless you, Mr. Maggin.

Superman 233 - This represents the other extreme of 70s Superman comics, the Man of Steel is revitalized for the modern era under the editorial guidance of Julius Schwartz. Denny O’Neil writes this initial story, altering Superman’s status quo – Clark Kent becomes a television reporter; all of the Kryptonite on Earth is rendered inert; Superman seems mysteriously less powerful than before – in the space of… wait for it… 12 pages. It doesn’t even take the man a full issue! And it’s not like everything seems hyper-compressed, either. O’Neil just makes really excellent use of the space allowed. Amazing. The story is still pretty decent after all these years, too (though the idea of a “mail rocket” is more than a bit silly).

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 104 (80 Page Giant G38) – Yes, I know, Superman is a dick. But in his defense, I submit this issue, which reprints stories in which Jimmy: switches bodies with Superman, discovers his secret identity, and then immediately runs off to tell Lois Lane; tries to con his friends into thinking he is volunteering to be frozen for 1,000 years so that they’ll appreciate him more; mistakes Professor Potter’s “Elastic Lad” serum for a soda; gets himself turned into a giant turtle monster… honestly, I could go on and on. They’re all amazingly fun stories, but they all drive home an important point: Jimmy Olsen is both a moron and an asshole. If you had to spend every waking hour with this tool and that bipolar Lane chick, you’d be a dick, too.

Legion of Super-Heroes (Vol. 2) 290-294 – This is, in many fans’ eyes, the end all, be all of LSH stories: the Great Darkness Saga. Basically, Darkseid shows up after centuries of, um, not showing up (they’re kind of unclear on what he’s been up to), kicks the Legionnaires’ collective asses for 5 issues, and is only really defeated because he kind of gets tired of fighting them. I first read this story a while back in trade paperback, and was left feeling kind of “meh” about the whole thing. A few years and a healthy dose of Legion fandom later, I can appreciate it a lot more. Definitely a great story, and it’s consequences for felt for years to come (right up until the Zero Hour reboot, actually). Is it better than “Earthwar,” though? I’ll let the hardcore Legion fans fight amongst themselves over that one.

Squarecat Comics Vol. 1 – I think Jennifer Omand’s table was my last stop at Wizard World Boston, as I was making a final pass through Artists’ Alley before heading for the T station. I stopped because I was drawn in by her cute drawings of funny animals dressed as Marvel super-heroes. But the main attraction was this book, a collection of her online diary strip that features Omand, her boyfriend and others depicted as cartoony animals (Omand herself is the Squarecat of the title, literally a square-shaped cat). Think American Elf without having to see James Kochalka’s weiner all the time. The book is cute, charming, heartwarming and laugh-out loud funny, and Omand herself was a lot of fun to talk to. Buy it, read it, give copies of it to all your friends.

Wrath of the Spectre – I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Michael Fleisher/Jim Aparo Spectre stories from Adventure Comics in the 70s, so getting this TPB for half-off was a no-brainer. They were a great mix of detective and horror stories, and they made my jaw drop more than a few times. If you’ve never read any of these, here’s the basic formula for each story: someone commits a murder, which Detective Jim Corrigan investigates; he discovers the culprits, turns into the Spectre, and proceeds to KILL THE BAD GUYS DEAD in gruesome, often fittingly ironic ways. Kind of like if the Crypt Keeper decided to get involved in his own stories. How this stuff got by the Comics Code (like the guy getting cut in half by the giant scissors, for instance), I’ll never know; I’d love to find out the stuff they had to cut!

Tricked – I talked about this book and meeting Alex Robinson at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund table in a couple of different places (which I'm too lazy to link to now, but you can go look for them yourself - it's like a scavenger hunt!), but I just want to say again that this was a terrific book and you should all read it and love it, and maybe even feed it and cuddle it and name it George. I’m just sayin’.

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