No Capes! Tuesday or Strange Tricks

In the last year or so my comic collecting has become more whimsical. As I’ve said before, I’m at a point in my collecting where I’m rarely hunting through boxes for a specific issue of a book. Nowadays I sift through boxes looking for anything that might catch my eye. Often I leave a convention or a shop with old educational/ promotional comics, a few cheap and beat up Jimmy Olsens, or a Charlton war anthology. My interest in comics has become such that I’ll pick up and read almost anything if the price is right. It’s taken me some considerable time to get to this point. Ten or fifteen years ago I would never have considered picking up some of the books I’ve gotten in the last year. I’ve become one of those guys that reads something just because it’s a comic, and it’s bound to show me something I haven’t seen before.

Case in point: Charlton’s Love Diary #94. The last time friend-of-the-blog-rakmO and I went on a comics run, I picked this up along with that Batman vs. Yeti hybrid and a few other books; it was in a buy five, get one free box. I like to think that this is my free book. I was drawn in by the cover. I mean who doesn’t like covers that talk to you? Who could read this cover and not want to find out why she’s a, “snake.”

There were three stories in the book and they’re the sort of stories Stephanie Meyer* would write if she weren’t an ardent feminist.

1. “My secret love” – A beach bunny has to choose between a reckless Sonny Bono look-a-like and a Steve Rogers look-a-like who is a by the book young highway patrolman. Since it’s written by someone’s dad, naturally she chooses the cop. Here’s the twist: she doesn’t tell her friends she’s dating a cop because she’s afraid they’ll murder him.

2. “In love again” – Boy marries girl, parents threaten to beat them both senseless. Annulment occurs. Time marches on. Bearded man reconnects with girlish woman.

3. “Manhater” – This is the one to which the cover refers. Because all of the men in her life are such poor role models,  Eve becomes a serial dater. That is until she meets Jeremy. He’s sensitive, funny… in a dad sort of way… and he talks to Eve instead of hitting her or shoving his tongue down her throat. Friends try to warn old Jerr off of Eve and her wicked ways to no avail. The story ends with love… true love.

So the stories were pretty indoctrinating, silly and fluffy… and probably written by a 40 something, pipe smoking dad. That’s only one of the reasons I love this book and will work to find more. The ads are something else! It never occurred to me that comic book ads could ever be targeted to girls/ women, and yet the entire book is slanted that way. There are ads for record sets and posters of David Cassidy, there’s an ad for t-shirts with girly sorts of images, and an ad for jewelry made from silverware. My money’s worth was found in the ad for Pursettes Tampons. It reads a bit like a Hostess ad but with almost no production value. Read and enjoy below.

My collecting just took an unexpected turn for the weird.

*for those that might not know, Stephanie Meyer wrote the Twilight series. That Gloria Steinem hasn’t issued a Feminist fatwa on Meyer is a mystery for the ages.
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This Week’s Comics

Oh, hello there.  I didn’t see you come in.  It’s another light week, but here are this week’s new and noteworthy titles.

  • DAREDEVIL #16
  • LOVE AND CAPES WHAT TO EXPECT #1 – For Matt’s creator-owned pull list.
  • MUPPETS #2 – The Last Langridge Muppet Story is a bit of a lost classic, and it’s been nice to revisit old friends, even if they haven’t been gone that long.
  • THIEF OF THIEVES #7
  • TRANSFORMERS REGENERATION ONE #82 – And speaking of revisiting old friends I don’t think Regen One has quite recaptured the vibe of the first run 20 years ago, but I can see the spark.  And it IS a good book, it just doesn’t seem like Furman and Wildman have recaptured their groove yet.  It’s dumb, but I will mention that one of the best things are the word balloons.  Growing up on the old Marvel series, Transformers always spoke with rectangular balloons with those strange flared corners.  No other series since has gone that route, and it’s nice to see them back.

I also picked up the 100-Page Spectacular so I could get caught up on issues 76-80 from the original series before picking up #81.  I have
about half the issues and had never read the rest, so it was a good refresher for me.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see those stories hold up remarkably well, and not “for Transformers comics,” but as stories in their own right.

That’s it for this week.  What looks good to you?

Sunnytime Review Show: Adventure Time #5

Adventure Time’s sixth issue came out last Wednesday, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend a little time talking about Adventure Time #5

It’s rare that we get surprised anymore.  Usually books are previewed and spoilered all over the Internet (and make no mistake there will be SPOILERS here, too) so that by the time you get it home and in front of you, you usually know exactly what you’re going to get when you crack open the cover.  Past that, once a few issues have been released you get to know the tone and approach of the book, so even with a great title the latest issue tends to feel like  just the most recent installment of an excellent run (see also Jeff Parker’s books, or Jason Aaron’s, or Jonathan Hickman’s). 

And so it’s been with Adventure Time, the comic anthology of Cartoon Network’s hit (I have to assume) show.  Written by Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics) with art by Mike Holmes, it’s been a pretty consistent book.  Fun, zany mayhem with the characters you love, chock full of anthropomorphic candy and fist bumps, it’s a breezy read that somewhat betrays exactly how funny it is.  I mean, there’s a joke in almost literally every single panel.  Plus hidden messages!

When I brought home issue 5 I figured I knew exactly what I was into.  In this issue Jake the dog and Finn the human visit their pal BMO, who offers them a cupcake, but since they can’t decide how to share it a contest is devised: whoever can walk in a straight line the longest wins.  It doesn’t take long for their friendship (and most likely, laziness) to override their competitiveness so they can work together.  Then they stumble across Adventure Tim –a Finn/Jake composite — and his friend ALN.  They discover that their friends and adventures are almost exactly the same, but just a tad askew.  The Mice King attacks, they team up, and Finn and Jake return home having learned how to share.

Which is amazing.  I mean, it just works on all levels.  A kid could pick this up and get a funny, self-contained story (it’s a standalone issue) with a nice moral about teamwork and sharing that doesn’t feel overworked or preachy.  An adult can read it and stay happily delighted by the gags. 

But then — and I apologize if every other reader got this immediately and I’m just slow to arrive — North surprised me.  The entire issue was a love letter to fandom. 

Finn and Jake’s race in a straight line?  That’s a pretty straight homage to the first Superman/Flash race from Superman #199.  Adventure Tim is an admitted mashup of Finn and Jake, but it’s also a nice reference to the Composite Superman/Batman.  And Tim’s friend?  There’s been a long-time theory that when Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, the insane computer HAL 9000 was a reference to IBM because those are the letters you get when you subtract one from each letter of IBM.  And when you subtract one letter from BMO it equals ALN.

None of this is done with an overt nod and a wink, but it’s there if you choose to see it and otherwise completely transparent, as it should be.  This is an exceptional and amazingly-crafted book, and that’s just the main feature.  The second backup is by indie legend Paul Pope, who manages to tell a short four-page story that’s true to both the characters and his own sensibilities.  Finally, the last story is a one-pager by Superman savior and Monkeybrain founder Chris Roberson and his 8 year-old daughter Georgia, with art by Lucy Knisley.  It’s a nicely-told story, but  the involvement of actual children along with their professional parents is such a charming touch I hope kaboom! continues to utilize it.

These days there are so many comics out there that just don’t know how to package and deliver entertainment.  All too often a story gets split into 6 issues and winds up stretched so thin that each part feels like the middle, or is bogged down in needless continuity, or frustratingly ignores any continuity whatsoever.  It’s so REFRESHING to pick up a comic where every single one of the 22 pages is packed with content, where there are no extraneous panels and every one is a delight.  Seriously friends, this is a perfect comic book. 

#THE_LIST

In this day and age it’s easier than ever to keep tabs on friends, family, and nemeses. Especially if you want to let those same people know where you are and what you’re up to. For the Bat-family the Twitter is the preferred method of announcing thoughts and events. This week we take a peek at tweets that were posted to @Batfamily.

@Hush_SHHHH
Hey, kids, guess whose face I have this week?  #BruceWayne

@THE_BAT
STFU @Hush_SHHHH

@DICKEY_BRID
@HUSH_SHHHH @THE_BAT Your mama’s?

@PussyCat
Need an In-N-Out Burger!  Who’s in? #Seriously

@Harold_The_Hunch
Can’t leave the cave. Bring me 3X3 w/extra stinkers plz. @PussyCat

@ALFRED
Removing blood from kevlar? Thoughts? #laundryday

@THE_BAT
Couldn’t find my cowl this morning. Slept in it! #TIREDFAIL

@DICKEY_BIRD
Sometimes I miss Bludhaven #BAZINGA!

@RED_ROBIN
If we get 10,000 followers, I’ll post nude pics of Selina Kyle. #SCHWING!

@Man_Who_Laughs
@RedHood seen my crowbar?  I seem to have misplaced it.
@THE_BAT
Looking 4 new butler/major domo. He doesn’t keep the soup warm.
@ALFRED
@THE_BAT It’s supposed to be cold #vichyssoise
@BROKE_THE_BAT
Howz the back? Hurt in cold weather? @THE_BAT
@THE_BAT
Howz the voice? @BROKE_THE_BAT
@BROKE_THE_BAT
sTFU!!!!!!!1!!!!!!! @THE_BAT
@Harold_The_Hunch

Saturday Morning Comics

Once again it’s time to settle in with a bowl of Fruity Pebbles and peruse this week’s comics offerings. It’s a strong showing with the return of The Goon and a couple of monthly favorites.

Wolverine and the X-Men #14by Jason Aaron (w); art by Jorge Molina (p) and Norman Lee (i); published by Marvel Comics. This issue was a huge improvement over the previous one. Although it’s tied to the A vs. X story, it’s more relevant to the book as a whole. We see that the school is woefully understaffed thanks to the war. There’s some Toad-related disturbing humor and a date that doesn’t go so well. Kitty and Colossus are written well here, and their discussion seems to show the direction for the ending of the overall crossover. The only down side to this issue is that gag of Deathlok spouting probabilities is a little over played. Relegating him to a C-3PO type of role is a waste.

Manhattan Projects #5 by Jonathan Hickman (w); art by Nick Pitarra; published by Image Comics. This alternate-history is equal parts wonderful and deeply disturbing. The way Hickman handles Earth’s first contact is interesting and surprising. One thing I really appreciate about the series as a whole is the cover design. It’s spare. This series stands out on the comic racks because of its covers.

The Goon #40 by Eric Powell; published by Dark Horse Comics. While waiting for another long-form story, fans of Eric Powell’s Goon are treated to three short tales related to prohibition and fast cars. The second of the tales stands out; it’s a spoof on The Dukes of Hazzard complete with Waylon Jennings style narration. The problem with these last several issue (and problem is a relative term) is that these are stories that, while featuring Frankie and the Goon, don’t need either of the book’s two main characters. Why not end The Goon and pick up with an anthology of weird tales? These last three issues have shown that Powell has the chops to do something like that without being shackled to a specific character.

This Week’s Covers

Doctor Voodoo TPB

Last weeks collection releases were a little underwhelming and full of volume threes of this and volume eights of that. That can be a little daunting to someone who’s new to comics or just wants to read something that will stand on its own with no other reading necessary.  And since I personally have over two thousand collections, I’m just going to pull out something that A) I have never read but always meant to, and B) won’t require reading any other volumes to get the whole story.

Well hello 2010…

Doctor Voodoo

Writer: Rick Remender

Artist: Jefte Palo

$16.99

Pre-Conceived Notions: Brian Bendis couldn’t capture Doctor Strange’s voice in New Avengers so he made Brother Voodoo the new Sorcerer Supreme in order to still have a magic guy in his books. Marvel agreed and gave Rick Remender an ongoing book in the hope that comic fans would eat up this re-envisioned character. They didn’t, and Doctor Voodoo was cancelled after five issues.  If you haven’t been reading comics for the last ten years or so then none of that will make any sense and I’m mostly just guessing at all of that anyway. Also, I love Remender and will read anything the man does. That is the only reason I would ever read a book about Doctor Voodoo.

I’m not usually one for introductions, but this has a pretty interesting one from comics legend Roy Thomas about the creation and history of Brother Voodoo. Well, interesting if you care about somewhat obscure comic book characters from the 1970’s. This book also contains a ton of reprinted material from that era, most of which I can do without.

I’m going to try to sum up Doctor Voodoo in one sentence: Doctor Voodoo and his ghost brother fight magic and stuff. Done.

I’ll delve a little deeper, although there really isn’t much need to…

We are thrown right into this book without much explanation of what has brought our characters to this point. The story is deeply grounded in Marvel continuity, but being as it was written two years ago, I have forgotten most of what was going on back then. There’s a lot of referencing events without any explanation of what actually happened, like how Voodoo has obtained the Eye of Agamotto or what it even is. All we know is that every bad guy that has ever used magic wants it. The ideas in this book are pretty epic but it never feels like much is at stake.

The Good

  • Man Thing!
  • Tomb of Dracula Dracula!
  • Doctor Doom screaming “Doom makes his own fate!” as he punches Ghost Rider in the face. Hell, Doom in general. Remender has that character nailed!
  • Palos art is really good and matches the tone of this book perfectly.

The Bad

  • Doctor Stranges mentor status is under used.
  • Too much continuity that is never explained.

The Conclusion

Doctor Voodoo walks the line between horror and superhero while never really being either. The horror stuff is better than the super heroics and it’s a shame that this was cancelled before it ever really got a shot. If this book had been given a real chance, Remender would have done some really cool things with it. There are parts where he genuinely seems to be enjoying the character, although he doesn’t seem to have a constant grasp on him. I was hoping for a somewhat accessible book that I could suggest to friends who want to read superhero comics that aren’t bogged down in continuity, but this is not it. I’ll just have to keep searching.