Greetings! Welcome back to the big column. First, links to our Best Shots Extra from this week . . .
And now, regular reviews . . .
Captain America #40
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve Epting
Review by Richard Renteria
Ed Brubaker and his artists, this issue's being Steve Epting, continue to tell a solid espionage tale with enough twists and turns to keep readers enthralled in a story that has been unfolding since issue one. As the story has progressed Brubaker and his collaborators have managed to elevate the Captain America book into a must-read title. With this issue the bar has somehow been raised again on this title as Brubaker tells a parallel story of the internal and external struggles that James "Bucky" Barnes and Sharon Carter endure as they fight to save the legacy of Steve Rogers and Captain America.
Brubaker does a tremendous job of bringing real tension to the struggle of our lead characters while employing his past issues and continuity to propel the story forward in a believable and organic manner. The effective use of both Bucky's and Sharon's internal monologue adds to the weight of their ensuing battles as they are both at physical disadvantages and must rely on their wits to defeat their enemies. Bucky handles his situation by throwing "Captain America" a curve with the revelation of his identity. As Bucky faces his opponent a drugged Sharon attempts an escape with potentially fatal results. As effective as the parallel stories are, it's the brief scenes with the Red Skull, Dr. Faustus and Armin Zola that are the real eye opener moments of this issue. Brubaker has been hinting about the disharmony faced by this triumvirate of evil since the early issues of his run and for the most part the three egos have managed to work with each other, but as plans seem to begin to unravel so does the alliance. The cliffhanger scene is sure to leave most readers shocked and hotly anticipating the next issue.
Steve Epting complements Brubaker in an effortless manner. At times the art was a little confusing due in part to some heavy use of blacks, but the overall effort rises above any minor shortcomings. There have been times when Epting's action sequences seemed a bit stiff with posed characters, in this issue Epting manages to elevate his action scenes and gives them a more fluid feel from panel to panel. Expressions and character consistency continue to be Epting’s strong suit, as the characters deal with each other up close and personal and their reactions and expressions are important elements to effectively convey the unfolding drama.
Brubaker has really been writing a solid story with his run on Captain America and even though the title character is dead the story being told will impact his legacy. The plot threads that were seeded in early issues begin to bare fruit and readers continue to be rewarded as they read the title and go back to see how Brubaker and company have managed to weave a rather large and complex story that never seems to confuse the reader and is always adding layers as Brubaker lays the groundwork for future issues. I also like the Dr. Doom subplot that has been running for the last dozen or so issues. I have a feeling the device in question is a time machine and the Red Skull has a plan for a Steve Rogers from the past, but at this point that is purely speculation.
Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #1 (of 3)
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Scott Kolins
Published by DC Comics
Review by THE Rev. O.J. Flow
A while back, I tried to get back in the Flash game when the current volume was relaunched with Mark Waid writing and Daniel Acuña doing the art. When it became clear two to three issues into it that this team was, putting it politely, short-term, I moved on just as quickly. But it was a done deal for sure that I was going to check out the anxiously awaited reunion of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins back doing the character(s) they made so vital seven years ago in The Flash. It's hardly a coincidence either that the two Final Crisis spinoff series I'm most interested in are written by Johns, even more so than the main book that's fueling all of these other stories. Shoot, I have no idea what's even going on in Wally West's own regular book these days, but it's a good statement on Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #1 that I was gotten up to speed so quickly. If you've followed the adventures of the Scarlet Speedster in any way in the last few years and you're jumping back into it like I am, you should be good to go.
If I had any one complaint about Rogues' Revenge, and it's not anything that diminishes the impact of the story, it's the noticeable lack of, well, the Flash. To be fair, the title DOES underscore the principal players involved, but it wouldn't be a Rogues party without the Flash, am I right? Fortunately we're already a third of the way through this miniseries, and Johns' & Kolins' pacing already belies a turbocharged epic that could have big ramifications in the DC Universe. The creators waste little time setting the scene for our leads, Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Heat Wave and Mirror Master, four of the Flash's baddest who are still on the run after breaking the number one rule of the Rogues: never kill a speedster. Cold realizes and convinces his cohorts that they have no one in their corner. Libra, the Final Crisis mastermind who has successfully aligned the most vile DCU villains to follow a new agenda, wants them to accept his invitations into the fold, though they're not having it. Just when they are ready to pack it in and get out of the villain game due to being America's Most Wanted for the murder of Bart Allen, the whippersnapper who duped them into their predicament, Inertia, has escaped captivity, and they know they have one last task to complete before moving on.
Not much turns me off in comics more than the idea of multiple spinoff series tied into an already massive companywide crossover. If it's not good enough for the main miniseries and the regular monthly titles that feature all these characters anyway, what's the point? I may be rethinking that now. I give all the credit in the world to the creative team involved here. Johns and Kolins know these characters inside out, and it shows. The guys are even crushing it with a character I believe they had little or nothing to do with, Inertia. And Johns knows how to handle the Final Crisis bits more prominently under the stewardship of Grant Morrison & Co. Turning down Libra's overtures to join the latest version of the Society is not going to do them any favors, to be sure. Plus the one prominent "unofficial Rogue" featured here, Zoom, is the one key villain who chose to ally himself with Libra in the main story, yet he's sill an invaluable component of Rogues' Revenge and he's got crazy designs on the fate of the Flash hierarchy.
The sublime artistry of Scott Kolins is razor sharp, too, and it totally sells the overall heft of this epic. "Book One" of Rogues' Revenge takes place around Keystone City primarily in the pouring rain during the mother of all thunderstorms (those paying a lot of attention lately will probably have a good idea what -- that is, who -- the likely catalyst of the storms is), and Kolins deserves a lot of credit for singlehandedly handling all the extra detail required of a cast who spends a lot of the issue soaked. Heck, in one instance during a major escape, the action takes place indoors, but the fire alarm sprinklers are tripped off and all hell breaks loose in the form of more downpours. Colorist Dave McCaig also should get credit for using a color palette that conveys the impending hell that's about to be unleashed upon Keystone as Captain Cold and his band of Rogues ready themselves for a mission of vengeance.
It's hard to tell who's going to come out of Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge in one piece. The hints are there that we may even witness some sort of resurrection and/or redemption in this story when it's all said and done, I can only guess, but if the debut issue is any indication, Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins are going to blow some minds in the process.
Mighty Avengers #16
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Khoi Pham and Danny Miki (with Dean White)
Review by Troy Brownfield
Readers of big events have come to disdain what is called the “Red Sky” crossover; that means that a book is labeled as a crossover tie-in when in essence only a tiny part of the action reflects that larger event. The Avengers issues related to Secret Invasion have been the polar opposite of that; they’re all deep background issues that thoroughly examine a small part of the big picture. No one says, “Hey, Skrulls are here,” and that’s it; we’ve gotten to see near-complete development of both the Spider-Woman and Hank Pym infiltrations. Similarly, this issue takes us back to a few key points in the Elektra/Skrull storyline.
There are a couple of decently sized revelations contained in this issue, with the first stretching back to New Avengers #1. In fact, the dialogue there made me pull out a few old issues, and you can bet that some of that will make its way into a future installment of “Damn Dirty Skrulls: What We Know Now”. Yes, it really does look like all of this was there all along, though it was played with incredible subtlety. That actually enhances the experience of reading this one, as in of itself its kind of choppy. I understand the effect that Bendis is pursuing (short vignettes of the larger Elektra switch), but it came off as seemingly incomplete. I think that if you went back at the end of this issue and re-read the Ronin arc, it would feel more cohesive.
On the art chores, Pham and company do solid work, particularly in two major fight sequences. There’s a nice flow to Pham’s panel-to-panel action, and you get a fluid sense of motion. Pham also draws some nice combination Super-Skrulls, an ongoing feature that’s one of my favorite bits of the whole SI affair (“Look! That one’s Spider-Man crossed with Moon Boy and Madcap!”).
While it will be a kick to get back to reading Avengers team adventures in the Avengers team books, Bendis has quite cleverly deployed his knot of titles to present a stronger overall narrative. Some of the individual stories may be more entertaining than others, but it’s smart work.
Joker's Asylum: Poison Ivy
Writer: JT Krul
Art and cover: Guillem March
Published by DC
Review by Lan Pitts
With The Dark Knight in full swing, DC is churning out everything and anything with Joker's name on it. Makes sense, right? Joker's Asylum is a series of one-shots with Poison Ivy being number three out of five. The issue plays out like an origin story and a story by itself, though told by the Joker. I loved it almost instantly after the second page because not only does the Joker "tell" the story, he does it in the way that pays homage to Tales from the Crypt. I loved that show as a kid. And when I say "kid", I mean eight or nine years old. I have been told that all the stories are, in fact, narrated by the Joker and they make a pretty dang good read.
The script, written by JT Krul of Aspen fame, plays out almost like an adult version of Batman: The Animated Series. Poison Ivy is killing people for the love of nature. Batman does his detective work, discovers a pattern. Though while in B:TAS, she would be stopped and sent back to Arkham. Instead, she really does a number on her final victim that is truly worthy of Tales from the Crypt. There are two more issues of this set and I can only imagine what it's store for Scarecrow and Two-Face. I still need to pick up the first two issues, but moving, packing and unpacking is taking a chunk of my time and to run to my comic shop is a bit of a pain now.
I like how this issue makes every Bat-villain seem like they impose a threat and that Joker isn't the only crazy one abound. We really see what Batman faces almost everyday with the chaos that even Ivy can bring to the table. She's more than an overzealous plant nut, she's an eco-terrorist that can "talk" to the trees and plants of our planet. She will stop at nothing to save anything from the mightiest redwood, to the tiniest blade of grass. She is to be taken just as seriously because she can be just as dangerous as the big boys.
The art is by the talented Guillem March, who has worked on Playboy Magazine Spain and other miscellaneous magazines and design projects, really shines in this title. His style is quasi-anime with some pretty solid line work. He draws Ivy as like a forest nymph, whose skin reflects the color of green life without her looking like a She-Hulk rip-off or appearing sea sick. I should go out and try to find this set, if they're just as good as this one; it's going to be worth the trip.
Too Cool To Be Forgotten
Writer/artist: Alex Robinson
From: Top Shelf Productions
Review by J. Caleb Mozzocco
After the amusing little tangent of his Dungeons & Dragons-like Lower Regions, Alex Robinson returns to somewhat more serious and sustained work with Too Cool To Be Forgotten, a deceptively powerful work that lives up to his very best work in graphic novels Box Office Poison and Tricked while narrowing the focus from a cast of characters to a single protagonist.
And make no mistake, Robinson is a true graphic novelist; that’s not just publishing buzz-speak or a term grown from embarrassment over funnybooks. Robinson’s works are built, function and read like novels, albeit novels with panels instead of paragraphs.
He’s working rather high concept here, as his middle-aged protagonist Andy Wicks goes to a hypnotist at his wife’s urging in an attempt to give up smoking. Something goes unexpectedly, however, and he finds himself back in 1985, attending high school in his high school body, but with his forty-something brain and memories.
Not entirely sure what’s going on, but eventually assuming he’s been sent back in time to before he started smoking so that he could refuse his first cigarette, Andy tries to re-muddle through high school, with the perception of a grown man.
Getting a second chance to re-do one’s formative years right is a common fantasy, and Robinson plays it as both a dream come true and a bit of a nightmare, as Andy asks out the girl he was too shy to ask out in high school, shows his mom how much he appreciates all she’s done for him, and so on.
However Andy has a bit of pressure some of us might not have—in the future, he’s a parent, so if he doesn’t retrace his steps exactly, his daughter might not ever be born, potentially dooming him to reliving his whole life as he already did to make sure he still meets his future wife and makes his daughter with her.
I won’t say of this book that “I laughed, I cried,” but I certainly snickered to myself a few times, and I did tear up a little near the end, when Andy seizes the second chance he most needed to take. Shorter and less sprawling than Box Office Poison and Tricked, Too Cool To Be Forgotten might seem like a slighter work, but it may just be Robinson’s best work to date. And considering the man’s resume, that’s really saying something.
Props to cover designer Matt Kindt and Top Shelf for a killer book design too; the squat book is shaped and designed to resemble a giant pack of Kool brand cigarettes.
Amor Y Cohetes
Written & Illustrated by Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez & Mario Hernandez
Published by Fantagraphics
Reviewed by Michael C Lorah
The Education of Hopey Glass
Written & Illustrated by Jaime Hernandez
Published by Fantagraphics
Reviewed by Michael C Lorah
From 1981 to 1996, Los Bros Hernandez, Gilbert and Jamie, created fifty issues of their seminal comic book series Love & Rockets. Amor Y Cohetes is the final of seven books that collect the entirety of those initial fifty comic books by the brothers, compiling all of the non-Locas tales by Jaime, Gilbert’s non-Palomar shorts, and a handful of narratives by the occasional contributor, Gilbert and Jaime’s brother Mario.
While each of the six previous editions Fantagraphics has put out is the gold standard for comic books, the stories in Amor Y Cohetes are primarily of interest to fans of Los Bros. Much of the work in this book was created before either brother had developed his cartooning voice or established the central core of what became their respective magnum opus. Consequently, the first half of Amor is a jumble of not-quite-developed shorts and odd gags.
Fortunately for fans of the family’s creative output, the quality quickly picks up as each brother finds his muse, and later tales are focused and clear, deliberately playing against type or pushing boundaries that are not open for exploration in their central work. Jamie’s “Rocky” stories are whimsical, sci-fi exploration at its finest, while Gilbert plays with biographies Frida Kahlo and unleashes the surreal “My Love Book.” Mario, the comics dabbler, shows enough promise to make you wish he’d do more L&R work, but the peculiar political satire of his Marzipan strips never feels entirely coherent. Mario’s Harvey-Kurtzman-gone-banzai artwork does become extremely worth reading in later stories, however. Long-time readers will certainly love seeing Jaime’s Maggie and Hopey characters filtered through Gilbert’s surreal prism, while Jaime takes Gilbert’s cast for a humanistic stroll.
While Amor Y Cohetes collects early stories, The Education of Hopey Glass is Jaime’s most recent book, two novellas that focus on long-time protagonists Hopey and Ray. “Day by Day with Hopey” is Jaime as his finest, tracking the titular protagonist during the final week before starting a new job. For established Love & Rockets readers, there’s plenty of meat, including Hopey’s possible maturation (a real job? for Hopey?) played against her emotional and social irresponsibilities. For new readers (and I say this based on actual evidence; my L&R-neophyte girlfriend having read this book before I did), the fundamental core of the characters is easy to pick up, and Jaime’s elegant depiction of their relationships remains among the most nuanced and engaging character work in fiction today.
The second narrative tells of the evolving relationship between Maggie’s one-time paramour Ray and Vivian, while also exploring Maggie’s current relationship and Vivian’s recent abusive boyfriend. Slick and clean, the linework is gorgeous as ever, while the storytelling is pristinely clear.
Praised by nearly everybody for twenty-five years now, there’s little I can say that hasn’t been said thousands of times. Amor Y Cohetes and The Education of Hopey Glass are both testaments to how varied Los Bros’s voices are and the indisputable quality of their legendary cartooning. You’ll find few books, if any, this year that I’ll recommend as highly.
Writer: Elizabeth Genco
Artist: Sami Makkonen
From: Desperado Publishing
Review by J. Caleb Mozzocco
The Bluebeard fairy tale gets a modern update in this original graphic novel by writer Elizabeth Genco and artist Sami Makkonen, in which the evil duke/ogre is a successful rock star and his young victim is his ex-girlfriend, a waitress in a café who does music on the side (and presumably keeps it realer than her sellout ex).
The update elements all work rather well, with rich celebrity being the new royal, a many-roomed mansion being the new castle, and collecting ninja weapons giving a perfect excuse for a sword to be lying around when someone needs a good stabbing.
The comparisons between the original work and the modern dysfunctional relationship are a natural fit too, particularly in our post-post-modern fairy tale world in which the reading of our great-great-grandparents’ bedtime stories for symbolism is old hat (And it’s worth noting that, even if you don’t know what Genco and Makkonen are riffing on, the story still works just fine as a supernatural thriller with some magical realist elements—although I believe the publishing industry it term for such elements is “urban fantasy” these days).
Oddly, it’s not the villain but the heroine who has the blue hair here, and it’s on top of her head, not sprouting from her chin, contributing to the post-punk Suicide Girl aesthetic of our girl Blue (I’m going to go for my personal record of the most usages of the prefix “post-“ in a single review, apparently).
Even odder, she also gets a superpower for some reason—Genco and Makkonen do know comics don’t have have superpowered people in ‘em, right?— she can turn into animals, though only small ones that she understands on an emotional level (thus negating the possibility of turning into a gorilla or tiger and superpowering her way out of her dilemma).
Makkonen’s artwork bears a passing resemblance to that of Ben Templesmith and Bill Sienkiewicz, and more than a passing resemblance to that of Ashely Wood (If a Wood-drawn woman and a Makkonen-drawn woman were both in a police line-up, I would likely have trouble picking out the one who mugged me).
His character designs are sketchy and abstracted, but not to the point of losing cohesion. He uses a lot of elegantly applied lines, giving the work a lot of texture; it all looks somewhat flat and two-dimensional, but the lines all seem to have weight to them.
The color scheme is a sort of gray-filled black and white, with Blue’s blue hair the only color, aside from the blue color-scheme that any animal shape she takes on keeps. The black, white and one-color gimmick is an older trick, but it’s a clever one, and it’s employed to good effect here.
It, with Makkonen’s line-work, helps elevate the story, so that even the parts that might seem a bit trite if read in straight prose take on a lyrical quality that can only come from well-drawn comics.
Rounding out the book are about twenty pages of back matter, including a previous collaboration from the creative team (a short story entitled “Yes, Mother”), rather extensive notes from Genco, including the text of the original popular version of the fairy tale and some insight into some of her particular creative choices, plus sketches from Makkonen.
ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction #1
From: Red 5 Comics
Written by: Kevin Grevioux
Art By: Geraldo Borges,
Reviewed by Tim Janson
Red 5 Comics gave us when of the best new independent series of the past year with their quirky and retro Atomic Robo. Their latest series is a bit more conventional in plot as they jump on the zombie bandwagon with ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction. The comic shelves are getting pretty crowded with books on the living dead these days. Everybody wants to try their hand it seems with their own take on the flesh-eating ghouls. Kevin Grevioux’s story mixes zombies with current political events of continued tensions in the Middle East. It’s funny…I say current political events but there’s been tension in the Middle East ever since I’ve been alive and it dates back long before me.
The setting is Iran, realizing many American’s fears of a war with Iraq’s neighbor. Reports of fighting in Iran are denied by the Vice President however his words are pasted over a stealth bomber that is dropping biohazard canisters over the war zone. However, this is not a chemical or biological agent, these are actual zombies, who becoming living (or is that dead?) weapons of death against Iranian soldiers. The zombies attack and kill everything in their path. The most ingenious part about the zombies is that the scientists have created them with something called photonecrosis which means, like vampires, they turn to dust when the sun rises. When an American team comes in for the clean up, however, they find one of the zombies unaccounted for.
ZMD takes the traditional zombie tale and gives it a needed twist. How many tales can you read about small bands of people trying to survive a zombie plague? It’s been done to death…or undeath…whatever…Grevioux at least gets his story out of the box and provides a fresh approach to zombies.
Art wise, Geraldo Borges art is competent but not spectacular. It seems a bit uneven in spots and that might be chalked up to the book’s having three different inkers. His best work comes on how he depicts the zombies. They are suitably decomposed and horrific and the gore spouts freely. Red 5 has done a solid job putting out interesting mini-series and while I’m not ready to put ZMD in the same class as Atomic Robo, I’ll certainly be back for issue #2.
The Rabid Vol. 1
Writer: Jason M. Burns
Artist: Guy Lemay
From: Viper Comics
Review by J. Caleb Mozzocco
A perhaps inevitable side-effect of the number screenwriters being welcomed into the world of comics and the number of comic books getting picked up to be turned into movies is the number of comics that seem read like movies.
I don’t necessarily mean that as a value judgment, since there are good movies as well as bad movies, but there the last few years have seen a sharp increase in comics that read like rejected screenplays illustrated by comics artists, or auditions for film adaptations.
The Rabid is an example of the former—it’s very easy to imagine that prolific writer Jason M. Burns began this project as an on spec screenplay, as it’s structured as a C-movie horror project, something that might get released in January or February, covering every single cliché of the zombiepocalypse genre and even ending with an “Oh no the menace isn’t over after all!” shock scene. I half expected the credits to roll when I finished.
As unimaginative as this particular comic might be, Burns is actually something of a minor master of the high-concept pitch. His other comics include a ventriloquist/ventriloquist’s dummy buddy cop team, an underground railroad that usher’s dead folks into the next world before the devil can get them, and others I’d need more too long to explain. The comics aren’t always that hot (I loved Dummy Guide’s To Danger, but had to struggle through Underground Railroad, and couldn’t even make it through The Expendable One), but the ideas tend to be big ones.
The concept here isn’t quite so high. There’s this 28 Days Later-like virus that turns people into cannibals who, for all intents and purposes, are zombies, even if they’re not technically undead (You wouldn’t believe how many arguments I’ve had over whether or not 28 Days Later is a zombie movie or not, based on that distinction). Dogs get it through the air, but transmit it to humans through their saliva, and humans pass it on by biting other humans.
So when it breaks out in a small town, pet dogs start going bonkers and biting their masters, and then they start turning on each other. The town’s sheriff, his family and two fellow officers, and a couple of other characters from central casting make their way to the police station, try to hold off a siege of the infected, and then try to make a break for it.
The expected action, gore, violence, interpersonal conflict, quip-heavy Hollywood banter and occasional bursts of horror humor (like a little fluffy dog getting batted down with a frying pan) ensues.
The thing is, Burns nails all these clichés so, as rote an exercise as it is, it’s hardly a failure. The bar is so low it’s laying on the ground, but he hops over it gracefully enough.
The art is provided by Guy Lemay, and here The Rabid really separates itself from the pack of wannabe/wanted-to-be movie comics. Lemay eschews the typical style for such projects, boasting a Paul Grist-like flat, semi-abstracted, square-filled style that subverts the script’s Hollywood pastiche nicely, essentially comic book-ing the thing up as much as humanely possible.
Write Now! Magazine #18: Stan lee 85th Birthday Tribute
Published by: TwoMorrows Publishing
Edited by: Danny Fingeroth
Reviewed by Tim Janson
Write Now is one of the many outstanding publications put out by TwoMorrows Publishing. The latest issue is a special 85th birthday tribute to the one and only, Stan Lee. Lee certainly has his detractors. He’s been labeled at times an unapologetic self-promoter and others claim he doesn’t give due credit to those artists who helped create many of those great Marvel Comics characters. Hogwash! I’ve read and seen dozens of interviews with Stan over the years. Self-promoter? No! Comics and Marvel Comics promoter? Absolutely! I’ve seen and read Stan gush about the fantastic work of artists who have no business being called fantastic. People get caught up in Stan’s mystique. He’s a modern day P.T. Barnum, a brilliant showman and orator who is always “on”.
The fact is that Stan Lee is the most important, and influential person in comic book history and there’s not even a close second. Look beyond the characters he created (or co-created if you will) and look at his body of work. He’s been in the comic book business from virtually the day they started, straight out of high school, no less. In the late 1940s and again in the mid-1950s, when the comic book business was at some of it’s lowest points, it was Lee who virtually kept Timely/Atlas afloat. When superhero comics all but died out, Stan switched over to westerns, war, romance, and Sci-Fi…whatever he could to stay in business.
When the Comics Code Authority was put in place, killing off many companies, Stan was able to adjust Atlas’ content to meet the tighter restrictions. Likely, without Stan’s astute management, the company doesn’t even survive until the 1960s to give us The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and all the rest. And lets not forget, Stan hired many artists and writers who would go on to be come legends in the industry. Guys like Jack Kirby and Roy Thomas were going nowhere at DC and Stan gave them new life at Marvel.
Write Now presents a fitting tribute from dozens of artists and writers, past and present. Some of these take the form of interviews while others submit their memories of working with Stan. Those paying tribute reads like a who’s who of the industry: John Romita Sr., Stan’s brother Larry Lieber, Gene Colan, Joe Sinnott, Roy Thomas, Denny O’ Neil, Marv Wolfman, Todd McFarlane, Dan DiDio, and film producer Michael Uslan, to name just a few.
One thing that is very evident from reading each of the pieces is Stan’s extraordinary enthusiasm and energy. Many mention the legendary plotting sessions where Stan would jump on tables and desks and act out how he thought scenes should be done. Many of the artists noted that Stan was very trusting of their abilities. Rarely did he ask them to re-draw or change their work. He may advise a different way to do it in the future but it’s clear Stan showed his artists a great deal of respect and they enjoyed working with him. And lets not forget, many of these guys have known Stan for over fifty years!
One of my favorite interviews in the magazine is with “Fabulous” Flo Steinberg, Stan’s secretary in the 1960’s who handled opening and reading all the fan mail that fans sent it, passing the best letters on to Stan to be answered. Flo was often mentioned in the comics during the 60’s and it was great to hear from her.
Reading through the magazine is like being a part of a Stan Lee tribute roast…without the bad jokes. It’s filled with great stories and great memories. Definitely pick this one up!
Spike: After the Fall #1 (IDW; review by Troy): I’m somewhat given to think that this spin-off mini is a little unnecessary, almost like the story could have been told in the regular Angel book. On the other hand, we just had a big flashback arc there, and that needed to move forward again. So, here we are. Clearly this is a story that all involved wanted to tell, and Spike is indeed an entertaining character. Lynch has, after all, handled Spike as writer for work prior to the ongoing Angel series, and his easy comfort and humor with the character does indeed make the book worth a look. I’m still not totally sold on the art of Franco Urru; I think that it might be really sharp with a separate inker; as it is, I think certain elements lack definition. I’ll recommend this one to fans, but the real action is the main title (and Buffy, of course).
The Flash #242 (DC; review by Troy): I’ve gotten more into Tom Peyer’s take on the book, and he does a good job with the dilemma of the rapidly aging Iris. Many elements of the Flash mythos are in positive play here, including the welcome appearance of Gorilla City. I’m also warming up a bit more to the art of Freddie E. Williams II. He seems to be finding his stride, even if his faces on Wally are occasionally oddly angular.
Trinity #7 (DC; review by Richard): Seven issues into the series and it has been an enjoyable ride. The stories tie together nicely and do a good job of keeping the reader engaged while continually moving the story forward. The biggest problem of the series remains the abrupt endings that happen at the end of every story. Just as a reader gets into the story it is "To Be Continued", sure the wait is only a week, but the structure of the story and the back-up tales should allow for a little more page control to balance out the story's flow. This issues backup is a perfect example of this problem. Sure it was neat to see Firestorm learn about Kronas and the Cosmic Egg, but it seems that update could have been handled more efficiently to allow more pages to the main story (although I do admit I quite enjoyed the sly reference to the JLA/Avengers mini-series). Bagley's art continues to remain consistent, but his Superman looks a bit to young compared to his look in other titles. Bagley is a workhorse though and has been improving issue to issue. Solid read from a solid creative group.
Incredible Hercules #119 (Marvel; review by Troy): The pure fun of this book turns a bit more serious as the God Squad suffers a staggering betrayal. This is just top-flight super-hero action. Pak and Van Lente do a tremendous job month-in/month-out on this thing, and Rafa Sandoval and Roger Bonet hold up their end terrifically. It’s almost an internet cliché to praise this book by now, but it deserves it. Marvel has a huge head of a steam with some of its “smaller” books (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Britain and MI:13, this one), and I’d like to see that continue.
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