Friday, November 20, 2009

Four-Color Fiend: some disappointments and some surprises

Okay, I was on the fence on whether or not I was going to be dropping JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA (DC), but a couple of things happened in the last couple of months that made the decision much easier. (There are some SPOILERS in the rant & review below, so I apologize and warn you off.)

First was the introduction of MAGOG as a regular member of the group. Originally created by Alex Ross & Mark Waid for their 'alternate Earth' KINGDOM COME mini-series, the character was brought back (for no good reason, IMHO) in the issues of JSA that featured the SUPERMAN of that world. Hoping that would be the end of him, when that story arc wrapped up, imagine how thrilled I was to find he was not only remaining in the JSA, but also getting his own title and then showing up in the pages of the newly launched THE SHIELD. Why DC has decided that this is a character they want to push completely baffles me. He's unlikable and, face it, not the best designed character I have seen in a while. While Waid & Ross may have been trying to make a point with his rather devil-like appearance, does the costume really scream out 'HERO' to you?

As if that wasn't bad enough, it was something I could have ignored, since Magog will be part of a splinter group departing from the main JSA cast. However, the folks at DC editorial decided they would get a few more bucks out of my pocket each month with the six-issue JSA vs KOBRA mini-series. Writer Eric Trautmann (with whom I don't believe I'm familiar, so excuse me if I'm off base) has the current JSA discover that the new Kobra leader (Jason Burr, brother of the deceased former leader) is recruiting new members and sending them on suicidal missions. In the first issue, you already lose track of the number of Kobra members and innocent by-standers that get killed. With each issue the body count mounts, the JSA seems to win, but always too late and Burr keeps escaping. After hundreds (if not thousands)have been killed the series ends with Burr free and bringing more innocents into his 'religion'. All of them with the potential to become human bombs at his command. Well, wasn't that six months worth of crap? Did I really expect the JSA, lead by Mister Terrific to become victorious? Did I really think they would capture (even for a short-period of time) Burr and bring some solace to the families of the slain? What a sap I was!! Thanks DC! Good luck with both the JSA books and Magog's own title. I'm sure some folks will be buying them.

HAUNT from Image, was co-created by Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane. Haven't been the biggest McFarlane fan for a number of years, but Kirkman's WALKING DEAD is currently my favorite comic. I'm also a sucker for his work on MARVEL ZOMBIES, so when I saw that he was the writer on this I decided to give it a try. Brothers Daniel and Kurt Kilgore (can you get a more obvious "things are going to get brutal" name than that?) do not get along. Daniel is a priest (one who uses prostitutes, but a priest nonetheless), while brother Kurt is a Black-Ops agent who goes to Daniel to confess his sins. Things turn bad when Kurt is killed by people looking for a particular notebook. In the apartment of Kurt's widow, Daniel is confronted by the spirit of his brother, just before two men (seemingly from the same group that killed Kurt) break in. When the men open fire on Daniel the brothers somehow merge into the being that will eventually be known as Haunt, I guess. This new creature has no problem beheading the gunmen and there the first issue ends. Whew!

I've already added HAUNT to my pull list at Nuclear Comics, so I'll be picking up at least the first half-dozen issues. I'm curious enough and have enough faith in Kirkman to see where this will go. My one problem is that Todd McFarlane is pretty well known for losing interest in something and moving on to the next thing. I really wonder if the two of them will be able to maintain a monthly schedule, or if Todd will be handing over all the art chores to Greg Capullo and Ryan Ottley, who assist him in the first issue. Of course, Kirkman and not the Toddster are my main reason for picking up the book to begin with, so his leaving wouldn't cause me many problems. We'll see what happens.

Finally, as I talk about over at PARTING SHOTS I'm going on a cruise for the next couple of weeks with Donna. We'll be sailing from Miami through the Panama Canal and into San Diego. If you want you can check out my Facebook page, where I may be posting at least a few words now and then. I'll get back to blogging sometime after I return on December 6th.

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Trails, until next time!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Detectives, Batman & Doc Savage - Reading Comics & Old Time Radio

Instead of posting two separate entries I figured that I would combine two shorter pieces.

I had meant to write about a recent OTR (Old Time Radio, for those unfamiliar with the term) set to which I had been listening, but got sidelined with some other things. Naturally, I misplaced the written notes so will have to go from memory. has produced a series of OTR sets consisting of several episodes of various programs under a theme. These include westerns, comedies, espionage and detectives, along with sets with multiple episodes of particular series. If you enjoy OTR as much as I do, you should check out their site (the link is included just above). The one I just finished was Old Time Radio Shows – Detectives (20-CD). Among them are NERO WOLFE (starring Sidney Greenstreet); RICHARD DIAMOND (Dick Powell); PAT NOVAK FOR HIRE & JEFF REGAN INVESTIGATOR (Jack Webb) and LET GEORGE DO IT (with Bob Bailey). This last one was new to me, having heard at least a couple of episodes of the nine other programs. Bailey plays a freelance detective whose classified ad brings him an assortment of unusual and generally deadly cases. As with Webb always making me think of his Sgt. Friday character whenever I hear him, Bailey is immediately identified in my mind with YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR. Bailey's Johnny Dollar was the only OTR program of which I have a strong memory. The program was broadcast on Sunday evening and when we would visit my grandmother, my dad would let me go sit in the car and listen to the show while the rest of the family began clearing up from the meal. I felt pretty grown up being given the keys to the car and trusted to start it up so I could play the radio. Bailey's voice is the one that comes to mind whenever I think about those shows.

BATMAN/DOC SAVAGE SPECIAL #1 is a one-shot from DC that acts as prelude to THE FIRST WAVE mini-series that begins in March 2010. Having gotten the rights to Doc Savage & The Avenger, DC has given them over to Brian Azzarello to play with. At the back of the book, Azzarello talks briefly about the series, along with character sketches by Rags Morales, who will be doing art on the series. Along with Doc, First Wave will also bring in a new generation of BLACKHAWKS, a new BLACK CANARY and a different RIMA THE JUNGLE GIRL. Add to this THE SPIRIT, who in this world is accompanied by a female Ebony White. Sounds pretty interesting, doesn't it?

The special brings together only the two major characters, but does drop some hints about an organization called the Golden Tree that will play a central part in the mini-series. Since there was no Golden Age Batman in current continuity, it doesn't seem clear if this is an alternate Earth introduced in 52 or something completely new. It is a strange place where airships co-exist with television and cellphones. Bruce mentions in some internal dialogue talking to someone 'during the war', but it is not clear which war this might have been. My initial reaction was that this might be the Batman we saw in JSA: LIBERTY FILES, but that was a more experienced and brutal Bats than we see here. Looks like a whole new Earth that will mix together new and different versions of some old favorites. I'm already going to tell Kenny at Nuclear Comics to add it to my list when he orders.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Shel Dorf: R.I.P.

If you go to Mark Evanier's website you'll find a nice tribute to Shel Dorf. Shel passed away today, from a long illness. He's probably best known to comic geeks as one of the people who started the San Diego Comic-con. Comicstrip fans, on the other hand, may know that he was the letterer on the STEVE CANYON strip for over a decade. I wanted to pay tribute and this was the closest I could come. I loved the Steve Canyon strip and enjoyed the short-lived TV series which was based on the character.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I got nothin'!

Reading the same comics....watching the same shows...thanks for tuning in!