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Friday, December 30, 2005

Stuff of Interest - March 2006

Comics of some interest for March 2006 or thereabouts (The Kirby listed elsewhere). Here are some covers, which pretty much say it all for some of these:


And here they are with words.

LA PERDIDA GN
by Jessica Abel
The first full-length graphic novel from an acclaimed young comics artist. This is an emotional, high velocity tale of a young woman who journeys to Mexico City in search of her true identity, only to discover a self she can hardly recognize.
HC, 8x6, 272pgs,$19.95
I enjoyed the beginning of the series quite a bit, although I thought the end was a bit of a let-down when I first read it. I'll have to re-read the whole thing before I decide if I want it in a more permanent format. I do recommend it for those who haven't read it, for the art if nothing else. And a very good price, a hardcover for $6 less than the separate comics cost. It's enough to put you off serialized comics for good.


SHOWCASE PRESENTS THE SUPERMAN FAMILY VOL. 1 TP
Written by Otto Binder
Art by Curt Swan, Ruben Moreria, Ray Burnley and others
Cover by Swan & Stan Kaye
The super-affordable Showcase collections continue with a volume spotlighting Superman's girlfriend Lois Lane and pal Jimmy Olsen, collecting the first 22 issues of SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN and Lois's first solo outing from SHOWCASE #9!
On sale March 15 576 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

It's almost wrong how excited I was when I first heard of this. Over 500 pages of Curt Swan drawing silly stories of Jimmy Olsen. It's almost a shame that there'll be a Lois Lane thing contaminating it at the end (though I'm looking forward to the Schaffenberger version of Lois if there are future volumes)


SOULSEARCHERS #77
by David, Staton, & Milgrom
With the rest of the Soulsearchers involved in their slapstick search for a new group headquarters, Bridget and Baraka follow Cloa Fille's trail to the accursed house overgrown by menacing plants, and find the most audacious adversary they've ever met in the "The Calamityville Horror"!
32pgs, B&W $2.50

This should be good. I'm looking forward to seeing Joe Staton's version of the characters.


PATTY-CAKE & FRIENDS VOLUME 1 TP
by Scott Roberts
At last, Patty-Cake in full color! You knew it had to happen sooner or later! After ten years,multiplee Eisner and Ignatz nominations, Scott Roberts' beloved Patty-Cake is coming to you in color! This special trade paperback reprints the first three issues of Patty's long SLG run (from away back in 1997) as you've never seen them before.
SC, 6x9, 96pgs, FC $12.95

This is really good to see. Roberts' work will look great in colour, and hopefully with their publication of some Disney stuff Slave Labor will be able to make some inroads into mainstream distribution with it.


BIZARRO WORLD SC
Written and illustrated by Tony Millionaire, Kyle Baker, Dylan Horrocks, Eddie Campbell, Harvey Pekar, James Kochalka, Gilbert Hernandez, Peter Bagge and others
Cover by Jaime Hernandez
A heaping slab of great comics featuring Bizarro by a who's-who of fantastic comic artists and writers! It's big! It's indisputably rectangular! It stays crunchy even in milk!
on sale April 26 ' 200 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Might pick this up if I see it on sale somewhere. I got the first volume a while back, and while I didn't like most of it, there were a few gems, so if this is the same I'd probably be happy to pay about half that cover price.


SHOWCASE PRESENTS TEEN TITANS VOL. 1 TP
Written by Bob Haney, Marv Wolfman and Len Wein
Art by Nick Cardy, Bruno Premiani, Bill Molno, Irv Novick, Lee Elias, Bill Draut, Sal Trapani and Jack Abel
Cover by Cardy
The "Showcase" format continues with a volume collecting BRAVE AND THE BOLD #54, 60, SHOWCASE #59, and TEEN TITANS #1-18. Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Aqualad unite for adventures only a teen team could handle!
on sale April 5 ' 528 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

While not quite as glee inducing as 500 pages of JIMMY OLSEN, this is still going to be well worth picking up. Cardy's artwork is great on these stories, and it's probably my favourite of Bob Haney's books.


LITTLE LULU: LUCKY LULU TPB
JOHN STANLEY (W/A) and IRVING TRIPP (A)
On sale April 12, SC, 200pg, b&w, 6" x 9", $9.95
For eight-year-old Lulu Moppet, nothing is impossible even if the results of her efforts are impossibly imperfect. Need to quell the fury of a rambunctious two-year-old? Lulu's got a hilarious fairy tale brewing in her brain that'll do just the trick. Father needs his best suit taken to the tailor? Lulu can handle it - so long as Pop doesn't mind if she makes a few unplanned and wholly unpredictable stops along the way. Have a wayward ghost in your house who needs a new home? Lulu's your girl!

Glad to see Dark Horse is getting these out on a steady basis. I've really enjoyed those I picked up so far, and look forward to getting all of them at some point.


RUNAWAY COMICS #1
by Mark Martin
After a hiatus from a regularly serialized comic - but not from comics - Mark Martin debuts his new, semi-annual title Runaway this month. The first issue begins the longest story starring his popular character Montgomery Wart (from Tantalizing Stories) - plus several shorter stories to round out the first issue. The book is full of Martin's patented visuals, slapstick humor, perfect timing, distinctive character designs, and rambunctious storytelling. Find out why so many cartoonists, from Scott McCloud to Jim Woodring, love Martin's comics.
MATURE THEMES
24pgs $3.50

Good to see Mark Martin back on the printed page, even if just on a semi-annual basis. More than worth taking a look at.


USAGI YOJIMBO #92
STAN SAKAI (W/A)
On sale March 29, b&w, 24pg, $2.99
Internationally acclaimed storyteller Stan Sakai presents another adventure from feudal Japan! The foxy thief Kitsune visits the Geishu clan in this issue, and the rabbit ronin is caught between his friendship with the charming thief and his loyalty to the Geishu clan... and how will Tomoe react when she meets Usagi's beautiful and flirtatious friend? It's a meeting of two fan-favorite characters, with the long-eared samurai caught in the middle! As if that weren't enough, when Kitsune's young protege Kiyoko steals a priceless temple scroll, the man who wants it would rather kill the pair than pay for it. Can they get out of this mess before permanent damage is caused to the clan? Find out, this month in Usagi Yojimbo!

I guess there are only so many ways to say hey, it's Sakai, it's Usagi, it'll be good.


SGT. ROCK: THE PROPHECY #3
Written by Joe Kubert
Art and cover by Kubert
Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. continue on their mission to bring "“The Prophecy"” to Estonia. After a harrowing shootout with a band of renegade Nazis, the combat-happy Joes of Easy Company and their precious cargo stumble upon a place they've never seen before and one they won't soon forget.
On sale March 22 3 of 6 ' 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

And of course Kubert doing Rock is always going to be good to look at.


I don't really care about this comic enough to even copy the solicitation, and won't be picking it up, but I really really like this Brian Bolland cover.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Doctor Who - "The Christmas Invasion"

...or, for Canadians, "The Boxing Day Invasion". This slightly longer than usual episode (it ran in a 90-minute timeslot, with commercials, but didn't fill it) introduces the latest Doctor, who'll be headlining the next season in a few months. He and Rose return to modern day Earth, just in time for a massive alien invasion. We also get a hint of the new spin-off series TORCHWOOD.

I was pretty unimpressed with it, unfortunately. While there were a few clever bits, they were few and far between, and a lot of the stuff between them wasn't worth watching. Overall ranks close to the bottom of new series episodes.

The good news is that this doesn't mean much for the upcoming season, since the new Doctor spends most of this lying around doing nothing. The actor didn't seem to bad in the few bits he had, and maybe if they have him doing more it'll pick up some. The end of the episode had a few clips from the upcoming season, and while some of them don't seem too promising (as I've said before, I think DW should avoid Victorian England, so actually having Queen Victoria herself can't be good news), there are a few bits for the long time fan that I'm looking forward to, already leaked in rumours, but I won't mention them here.

I also just got the first tape of the original series from my library in a while, "Terror of the Zygons", from the Tom Baker years, with Sarah Jane Smith and Harry and the Brigadier, so that'll be a good way to get this latest thing out of my mind.

Monday, December 26, 2005

EC - Upheaval (Williamson)

Upheaval!
art by Al Williamson, story by Al Feldstein & Harlan Ellison
Weird Science-Fantasy #24[#2] (1954)

Some sources seem to indicate that this was an unauthorized adaptation (a la the first few Bradbury adaptations) of an early Ellison short story, "Mealtime", others seem to indicate that it was authorized. In any case, it was the only Ellison story published by EC. The story concerns an exploration mission, looking (so far in vain) for signs of intelligence on other worlds. The captain is convinced that humanity is the pinnacle of evolution and they won't find anything, until they come onto a seemingly empty world, which swallows up their spaceship and the crew. After barely getting out with their lives, the skeptical captain is now convinced that he was wrong, and the world they just left is an evolved intelligent world, far superior to the parasite based evolutionary model of Earth.

Cute story, but more interesting for some really nice Williamson artwork. In addition to the usual great space-men there's a nice sequence of flash-backs to the evolution of life on earth, and any chance to see Williamson drawing battling dinosaurs and cavemen (separately, of course), even for just one panel each, is well worth reading.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Collection - CRITTERS [1986 Series]

Critters [1986 series]
40 issues [1986 - 1990]
1 - 38, 40, 50

A very entertaining funny animal book from Fantagraphics, CRITTERS ran as an anthology with up to #38, then ran various full issue stories from #39 to #49, returning to the anthology format for a big finale for #50.

I didn't start reading it until after it was cancelled, soon after I started reading USAGI YOJIMBO and looking for all the earlier stories. I liked the rest of those issues enough to start picking up the non-Usagi issues (Sakai has work in about a third of the issues).

Of course some were harder to find than others, and I only finally finished my collection of the anthology issues earlier this year. I still haven't read all the continued stories that appeared in it, as I was waiting to have all the chapters. And you hardly ever see the non-anthology issues around (I suspect they might sometimes be filed by the feature name, like "Fission Chicken" or "Birthright").

Still worth keeping, even with all the Usagi stuff available in tradepaperbacks. The "Gnuff" series by Freddy Milton (a heavily Carl Barks inspired series about a dinosaur family) appears in about half the issues, and is always worth reading. A good mix of single issue stories and serialized stories throughout. Also notable, #23 has a flexidisc with Ty Templeton's "Teddy Payne" on one side and Alan Moore's "Sinister Ducks" on the other.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Random TV stuff

Yeah, haven't been posting much lately. Don't know why, it's not like I get a lot else done. I'm not sure this weblog has found the voice i wanted yet, so it's easier to post on one of the more focused ones. I'll have to get on that soon.

I have been watching a lot of TV recently. I was able to borrow an almost complete set of NEWSRADIO tapes, so I watched those. I loved that show when it was on, but missed a handful of episodes both originally and on syndication, so it was great to revisit the old favourites and get the occasional new shot. I can't believe how good that show was. I'm going to have to pick up the full season DVDs at some point (first two seasons are out, third apparently out next year). I hear the commentary tracks are really good.

I also just recently got into ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. I'm not sure why, but the show managed to fly completely under my radar for the first two seasons. I knew it existed, I knew Jeffrey Tambor, who I liked from the LARRY SANDERS days, was on it, but not much else. Fortunately that's been corrected now, just in time for the series to be cancelled, it seems. Ah well. Anyway, one nice thing about catching on to a series late is that I got to watch almost fifty episodes in just a few months, which really works for a show like this, which has a lot of running jokes and references to past episodes.

The news that John Spencer passed away prompted me to dig out some videos I kept of the first few seasons of THE WEST WING. For a while there, from the middle of the first season to early in the fourth, it was my favourite show on TV, so I still have tapes of most of those (those were the days before DVD box sets became inevitable for most shows. I probably should look into buying the early ones for WEST WING). I still watch the show, mostly out of habit and affection for the characters, but I forgot just how good it was when all the pieces were in place early on. And of course John Spencer's character, Leo McGarry, was an integral part of that, especially early on, I think it was his presence which held the show together long enough for the rest of the cast to catch up. Really not sure if I'll be able to watch the show without him, especially if it continues past this season.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mod and Mad

I've always liked this 1968 cover by Curt Swan and Neal Adams, especially the unique integration of the logo into the action, but seeing it with this extra promotional dress from a period house ad makes me absolutely love it. "Mod and Mad"? So, so, hip...


Sunday, December 11, 2005

THE QUESTION by O'Neil/Cowan #31 - #36

Bit late on this, as I had misplaced one of the issues. Finishing up the "monthly" run of the book, with Malcolm Jones III still the regular inker.

#31 - "Boom. The End." sees some old housing projects, where Vic once lived, scheduled for demolition. Unfortunately some street gang squatters have other ideas, and take Myra hostage in there. A very simple but effective issue, with a lot of nice touches that point towards the eventual end of the series, the importance of Vic's childhood experiences to his current place.

This issue also has a pin-up of Vic and Tot in a library where Vic peruses a printout of the Recommended Reading List to date, which is cute.

#32 - "The Peacemaker" is a bit of an oddity as the main characters don't really figure into the main story. Vic and Myra appear in a few pages in the middle, furthering his own inner conflicts, but the main story is about a Vietnam vet who is brought into a neighbourhood watch program, and his own flashbacks and reactions. Not a totally successful departure, but it had its moments, including a rather depressing ending.

#33 - "Harold" is the last of this stretch of single issue stories, and introduces a character who would eventually go on to a regular supporting gig in the Batman books, the mute mechanical genius hunchback of the title. The main story this time revolves around a psycho killer being hired by a judge to kill Myra, forcing her and her daughter on the run where they're fortunately helped by Harold while Vic is mostly ineffective.

#34 - "were it not that I have bad dreams" begins the final story arc for the series, with Carlos Garzon guest inking. The city spirals into even worse chaos, and Vic is unable to handle it, finally cracking amidst exhaustion and hallucinations about his mother. Myra handles her problems a bit better, and Richard Dragon finally comes to town to help. I like bits of this issue a lot, but overall not one of my favourites, especially with the art looking very rushed.

#35 - "Let Nothing You Dismay" brings Izzy into the crisis-of-confidence party, as he pursues a Question impersonator, while Myra and Richard continue the search for Vic. A good issue, but mostly just a warm-up for the grand finale...

#36 - "Or Maybe Gomorrah" brings it all to a close, with several brilliant bits, Richard's revelation being on the top of that list. Don't want to spoil that for anyone who hasn't read it, but it took me by surprise. Anyway, it's a good resolution to the series, as Vic finally decides he has to leave Hub City, and Myra decides she can't. A fitting end to a great series, sometimes I think they should have stopped here, as some of the subsequent stuff, while entertaining, detracts from the ending as Vic keeps returning to the Hub.

Still to come, a GREEN ARROW Annual, some QUARTERLY issues, the RETURN and a few other appearances of Vic Sage.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My Collection - GRIMJACK [1984 Series]

Grimjack [1984 series]
38 issues [1984 - 1990]
1 - 8, 11 - 15, 21 - 26, 37 - 44, 46, 50, 52 - 53, 60, 63 - 64, 68 - 70, 74

Long running science fiction series created by John Ostrander and Tim Truman, first showing up as a back-up in STARSLAYER. Truman was aboard as artist for the first little while, until he started up SCOUT at Eclipse, and then various artists continued with Ostrander until #81. Recently revived in a mini-series by Ostrander/Truman and reprint collections at IDW. The title character is John Gaunt, a mercenary operating in the transdimensional city of Cynosure.

I didn't start reading the book until around the time it was cancelled, originally picking up a few based on the back-up stories done by various guest artists ("Munden's Bar" stories, set in a bar owned by Grimjack and allowing for guest characters from any dimension). I liked those enough, and liked Truman's work in other books, that when I saw a good run of the early issues for sale I picked those up, and since then have picked up the rest I have. I haven't actually read the main story in all of them yet, partly because I have a lot of single chapters of larger stories, and partly because I have some trouble with a few of the post-Truman regular artists (I like Tom Mandrake's run in the middle a lot, but Tom Sutton and Flint Henry don't quite do it for me on first glance. I might change my mind when I actually read more of the stories).

Noteworthy issues:

#1 is a good intro story, with lots of hints for the future and character establishing bits

#12 - #15 had some good single issue lead stories, and backups by John Totleben, Phil Foglio and Bill Messner-Loebs

#42 is a nice example of Tom Mandrake's run, and the first issue I ever read thanks to the really weird back-up drawn by Larry Marder

Monday, December 05, 2005

Stuff of Interest - February 2006

Here for the Kirby. Kind of a slow month overall, but a few really good bits.

PHOENIX VOLUME 6 TP
by Osamu Tezuka
In the 25th century, a Japanese woman named Romy establishes a civilization and history for the formerly uninhabited planet, Eden-17. Her husband dies an unnatural death, but the life she carries inside her holds a great mystery...
SC, 424pgs, B&W $16.99

Cool. It's been over a year since the last volume, I was beginning to think they might not finish the series. And a nice thick volume, too. By they way, all these Phoenix covers are pretty interchangeable, aren't they?


SUPERNATURAL LAW #1 WITH A SILVER BULLET
by Batton Lash
In this homage to Famous Monsters, attorneys Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd must deal with a crazed werewolf, a reluctant vampire, and — scariest of all! — an annoying TV shrink! Plus, guest pinups and the letters pages!
32pgs, B&W $3.50

So I guess this series has gone the MILK AND CHEESE route and every issue is going to be a "#1" (the previous one-shot was the "First Amendment" issue). Hope it helps in a comics market that doesn't reward longevity.


WELCOME TO HEAVEN, DR. FRANKLIN ONE-SHOT
by William Messner-Loebs
When Ben Franklin dies and goes to heaven, he discovers that God has been replaced by the ancient Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius... and then the wild times begin! Out of print for decades, this fine work by Epicurus the Sage writer William Messner-Loebs is collected for the very first time!
24pgs, B&W $2.95

This is the story that appeared in the back of CEREBUS way back when, isn't it? I think I vaguely recall thinking it was pretty good back then, so good to see it being collected.


USAGI YOJIMBO #91
STAN SAKAI (W/A)
The hauntings continue! Last issue the rabbit ronin, Usagi Yojimbo, was faced with a mysterious and grisly murder at Geishu Castle, but the leading suspect was a woman who has been dead for ten years! Now, after another murder attempt, Usagi himself is believed to be the ruthless assassin! The long-eared wanderer must team with Tomoe and a distrustful bodyguard to solve the mystery of the Geishu ghost—before its razor-sharp claws carve into another victim. Catch the conclusion to the two-part “The Ghost in the Well,” this month from world-renowned storyteller Stan Sakai!
On sale February 22, b&w, 32pg. $2.99

USAGI YOJIMBO SIGNED AND NUMBERED LIMITED-EDITION PRINT
Stan Sakai’s creation, the rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo, is one of the most beloved and enduring characters in comics today. With over twenty years of adventures throughout feudal Japan, countless awards, and a following that spans the globe, this long-eared samurai continues to attract life-long fans, and the comics master who tells his stories is the nicest guy around. Dark Horse is pleased to offer discriminating Usagi readers a poster-sized art print of this beautiful painting originally created for The Art of Usagi Yojimbo. Featuring Usagi, Tomoe, Gen, and sensei Katsuichi, these 17" x 24 1/2" prints are individually signed and numbered by Stan, printed on high-quality archival paper stock, and limited to an edition of only one hundred. Shipped flat and shrink-wrapped to a cardboard backing, they will arrive ready for framing.
FC, 17" x 24 1/2", signed and numbered, limited to 100, $100

The usual reliable issue of USAGI. Not so much interested in buying a $100 print, but that is a very nice image, and one of the few prints that would interest me.


SGT. ROCK: THE PROPHECY #2
by Joe Kubert
Sgt. Rock and the combat-happy Joes of Easy Company have seen it all — but they’ve never been served with a mission like this! Having picked up the “package” that could swing the war for the Allied forces, Rock, Easy and their Partisan guides begin the dangerous trek from Lithuania to Estonia. Little do they know that what they’re delivering could result in their own downfall. Has Easy Co. finally met its match? Not if Rock has anything to say about it!
On sale February 15 2 of 6 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Looks like some nice Men of Easy pin-ups on the covers for this series. Although I've read enough DC war comics to feel sorry for any cute dog who shows up in these stories.


SUPERMAN: THE DAILY PLANET TP
Written and illustrated by various
Cover by Kevin Nowlan
This 192-page Superman collection revolves around the Daily Planet newspaper and its staff. Featuring classic stories with reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane, photographer Jimmy Olsen, Editor-in-chief Perry White, and many more – showing how far they will go to get a great story!

This volume reprints select stories from ACTION COMICS #211, 429, 436, and 461, SUPERMAN (first series) #280, SUPERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND, LOIS LANE #17, 24, 45, and 56, SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #42, 63, 75, and 124.
on sale March 1 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Should be a fun collection, although its thunder is a bit stolen by the news that soon after DC will be publishing a SHOWCASE phonebook volumes including the first 22 issues of JIMMY OLSEN (and the first LOIS LANE tryout), a much more concentrated dose of classic Curt Swan artwork. But this should be good too. Wish they had a cover more representative of the interiors.


SHOWCASE PRESENTS: HOUSE OF MYSTERY VOL. 1 TP
Written by Len Wein, Robert Kanigher, Gerry Conway and others
Art by Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Alex Toth and others
Cover by Joe Orlando
Do you dare to enter…the House of Mystery? Everyone who does will find a full 22 issues of this classic DC series! Beginning with editor Joe Orlando's first issue (#174), this 552-page black-and-white trade paperback features a wealth of art from macabre masters!
On sale Feb 8 552 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

It's probably a tie between that JIMMY OLSEN collection and this for the announced SHOWCASE b&w books I'm most looking forward to. Classic 1970s stuff mixed with a lot of 1950s stories (as the book was about a quarter reprint back then). A lot of the artists in this book look better in black and white, especially with the moody material in these stories, and a great price.


THE BOOK OF BALLADS TP
by Charles Vess & Various
Illustrated and presented by one of the leading artists in modern fantasy, Charles Vess, this unique collection of ballads, folktales, and magical sagas re-imagined in sequential art form features collaborations by an all-star cast of modern fantasists including Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen, Jeff Smith, Sharyn McCrumb, and Neil Gaiman. Finished with full lyrics and discographies of the classic versions of these songs and tales, The Book of Ballads is an event in the worlds of fantasy and graphic storytelling.
SC, 192pgs, FC SRP: $14.95

I posted about the hardcover that came out last year over here. Still highly recommended if you didn't get the previous edition.


MARVEL MILESTONES: DRAGON LORD, SPEEDBALL & THE MAN IN THE SKY
Written by MARV WOLFMAN, STEVE DITKO, TOM DEFALCO, ROGER STERN & STAN LEE
Penciled by STEVE DITKO
Cover by FRANK MILLER
Who - or what - is the Wani? And can Tako Shamara, latest in the line of men trained to combat the creature, stay its wrath? It’s a question of honor as the Dragon Lord debuts in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5 (March 1980). Plus: A colorful new bouncing, brawling crimebuster bursts forth in in SPEEDBALL #1 (September 1988). Also featuring “The Man in the Sky” from AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #14 (July 1962) - the first Marvel mutant story!?
48 PGS./RATED T+ ...$3.99

Seriously? Man, I kind of wish they'd gone with another issue of SPEEDBALL (this one was just reprinted, and the Guice inks don't do it for me), and maybe one of the many never-reprinted 5-pagers (although I guess neither reprint of this one was that high profile, and it is a good one). Still, loves me some Ditko. Also, seriously, "Rated T+"?


JLA: THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD TP
Written and illustrated by various
Cover by Alex Ross
Collecting some of the stand-out tales from the long history of the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, from the Silver Age through INFINITE CRISIS! Included here are JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #19, #77, #122, #166-168, JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, JLA SECRET FILES #1, JLA #61, and the 3-page origin from JLA #200, pencilled by George PĂ©rez!
On sale Feb 22 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Eh, wish I could be more excited by this, even understanding that the JLA/JSA stories are off-limits as they're in the CRISIS ON MULTIPLE books. #19 is good stuff, but #77 is really awful and #122 is mediocre. Don't know about the Conway thing, but apparently it's been referenced in some modern stuff. Kind of odd that they have nothing from the Englehart run (unless they're going to do a separate Englehart book at some point). And no JLDetroit? The JL #1 is good, but kind of loses impact as a standalone instead of a beginning, and the team hit their stride later, when guys like Max Lord and Booster and Beetle were established (although a lot of it is running gags, in-jokes and chracter stuff which might not work as well in a single sample). JLA #61 is one of the few modern ones I've read, and it was pretty bad, especially the art, probably chosen for the dubious virtue of being among the few single issue stories of the modern era. Kind of wish they included all of JLA #200, which had some great art, but that would eat up over a third of the too small page count for the book.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

EC - Beauty and the Beach (Kamen)

Beauty And The Beach!
art by Jack Kamen, story by Al Feldstein
Shock SuspenStories #7 (1953)

This was a bit of an unusual EC story in some ways. It begins with a split narrative, as we follow the stories of two women on a beach. One has a husband jealous of other men looking at her, the other has a husband who hates the sun (and kind of looks like how Robert Crumb draws himself). Usually when you get that kind of split narrative the storylines eventually intersect, but not in this case. These are effectively two similar but separate stories, as both women get job offers based on their beauty (beauty pageants and modeling), making their husbands increasingly frustrated as their careers take off, and plot grotesquely appropriate murders. That's also kind of unusual as the EC formula was normally based on some sort of turnaround where the final victim deserved what they got in some way, while here it just seems a bit cruel.

Of course the main point of the story seems to be to have as many opportunities as possible for Jack Kamen to draw women in sexy swimwear, and in that respect it's quite a success.

It also delivers one of the endings where "Good Lord" and "Choke" are both uttered as final exclamations.
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