Report what comic books you have read today--and tell us a little something about it while you're here!

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Captain Comics said:

I've been reading the PS Artbooks' two Pre-Code Classics: Space Cadet books... The GCD says these books were drawn mostly by Jack Lehti, but I swear there's a lot of John Forte in the DNA. Some expressions, body language, panel blocking -- very Forte.... Anyway, is there any way to figure out if Forte had anything to do with Space Cadet?

The thing to do is to look for elements in the art that seem to show the artist’s hand beyond doubt. If the artist’s style is distinctive enough and clearly present one can feel certain. I don’t claim to be great at this, but I had a look at the “Tom Corbett” story in Four Color #378 to see if I could find something. I think there are two styles in the story. One is Forte-ish. The other is non-cartoony, I suppose Alex Raymond-school.

The alien in this panel looks like Forte’s work to me:

This guy does too:

And the guy on the left here:

And the poses and layout in this panel:

The catch is I’m not familiar with Lehti’s work, so I can’t say if these examples are unlike his style. But I take it his was the non-cartoony hand. In the third example above the guy on the right is in this other style. Full disclosure: I read the story not long ago, and didn’t notice the mix of styles without your prompting.

One should be wary of the argument that’s got to be x, no-one else drew like that, as a lot of artists of the period aren’t well-known today. (Also, artists were told to imitate others’ styles sometimes.) I've seen "acting" from other artists in the vein of that first example. But Forte’s stuff is pretty distinctive. There’s so much Forte-ish stuff in the story, and it’s so Forte-ish, I think your identification is certain.

Forte-ish stuff crops up here and there throughout. For example, the aliens mostly have a Forte look, and appear on 10 pages. So I’d hazard Forte ghost-pencilled, and Lehti imposed the other look when he finished/inked.

Some original art by Lehti can be seen here.

I only know Lehti from Crimson Avenger, and I can't say I really know his style. But I'm certainly familiar with Forte. And while a lot of Forte-isms are absent in Space Cadet -- like people standing around with one hand on their belt, or a face showing surprise with forehead wrinkles going up way too high -- what kept bugging me was panel layout. The positioning of the figures, the repetition of mid-distance shots, the blank expressions ... it all just screamed Forte at me. I wondered if maybe he just inked it, but that wouldn't explain the Fortean panel composition. 

I'm thinking either Forte did breakdowns which Lehti inked over, or Lehti was just lifting a lot of Forte's art (and others as well). I don't guess I'll ever know.

Meanwhile, I've read a bunch of other stuff:

Killadelphia #1-2: Turns out there are vampires in the City of Brotherly Love, and have been since the late 1800s. Our heroes have really only just figured out that part, so the whos and whys are in the future. 

Our main hero is a cop, but not a particularly good one, living in the shadow of his famously tough old man, who was a cop and died something of a legend. Well, guess who isn't quite dead -- and got turned before he "died"? I don't mind spoiling it, because I don't think anyone would be surprised,  and besides, it promises some great characterization coming up. 

What really sold me is the art, which is sort of a Denys Cowan-Bill Sinekiewicz look. He's not as good as those two guys, but the shadowy, swirly-fog rendering is perfect for the story.

20XX #1-2: I really loved the Luna Bros. style when I first saw it in, I think, Girls. There the Lunas' inability to draw more than one girl was actually a plus, since all the girls were identical. And I still enjoyed them with the tabloid-superheroine tale, Ultra. They were a bit more progressive than other writers at the time in giving women more of a spotlight, and more agency.

I think they did another one with an android? I don't remember the name, but I could tell from the first issue that it was going to tell us another Pinocchio story, with the lead guy falling in love with a robot despite hating robots, and the robot wanting to be a real girl. Been there, done that, got the Data T-shirt. I read the first few issues, and when it followed exactly my predictions on every page, gave it up.

The world has caught up with that approach, so the Lunas aren't really interesting. And their art is flat and repetitive, and now that novelty has worn off, not very compelling. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself about 20XX, which failed to hold my interest. It's only one Luna, on art I guess, but it looks like all the others, and the story was, once again, predictable to the point of irritation. I called the Surprise Lesbian Reveal at the end of the second issue somewhere in the middle of the first issue. I won't be reading a third.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt v1: Watch: This is, believe it or not, a Watchmen sequel. It never quite says that, but if you haven't read Watchmen, it won't make sense and will seem like random crap thrown together.

The story is this: Aliens invade Earth, and the five remaining superheroes try to get "the smartest man on the planet," Peter Cannon, to help them. Yes, he's Ozmandias, in red and blue. And he divines that the Earth isn't being invaded by aliens, just that someone is faking it, in order to draw all nations together to fight the external threat.

Think "giant telepathic squid teleported on top of New York," because that's exactly what this is, And as Peter Cannon explains, the only person who could pull this off would be himself, and since he didn't it must be a Peter Cannon from another dimension. Cannon and the other five heroes (who are analogues of the Charlton characters, just as the Watchmen characters are), go to confront this other Peter Cannon through a "nine-panel grid."

It turns out the other Peter Cannon is living on a dead world, killed in the battle between Cannon and that world's Captain Atom/Dr. Manhattan analogue. It was a long struggle, and Cannon eventually won, but the struggle wiped out the population. So now Cannon is doing the giant telepathic squid routine -- I'm sorry, "alien invasion" -- on one parallel Earth after another, in order to save one, which would mean the sacrifice of his own world would have been worth it. And, though he has never succeeded, and every Earth he's dealt with he's destroyed, now he can't quit, or he'd be "the villain of the story." So he has to keep trying, to find the successful approach that will prove him right all along.

So, yeah: It's a parallel-world Watchmen story. But because it's not published by DC, it can never say that it is. Weird.

There's all kinds of Watchmen junk in there worth mentioning. Like the gear symbol on alt-Cannon's forehead, which he lifted from the dead Dr. Manhattan. It's a circle, of course, like the hydrogen symbol. Or when the Rohrshach analgue throws up raspberries on a yellow table, it forms the blood-on-the-happy face shape perfectly. And then there's Nucleon, the nuclear-powered hero of Cannon's world, who, when she appears on alt-Cannon's world is suddenly paralyzed by new perceptions -- she sees past, present and future all at once. You know, like Dr. Manhattan.

And so on. I'm tempted to get this book and put it on the bookshelf next to all the Watchmen stuff, but the artwork was only so-so.

“This is, believe it or not, a Watchmen sequel.”

Sounds more like a Watchmen rip-off to me, but it sounds interesting.

But because it's not published by DC…

I’m having difficulty identifying this series. Who did publish it? Is it new?

ADVENTURE COMICS #4-5 & TEEN TITANS #98-100: The last Superboy-Prime before Flashpoint.

PENDULUM CLASSICS: I forgot to mention yesterday that I pulled out those six Pendulum books I have for a look. They are numbered “Series 1, Book 1,” “Series 1, Book 2” and so on. In the back of each one was an ad for the contents of twelve series (72 titles). Since no more were published, we can conclude sales didn’t exactly set the field on fire.

Making my way through "Choke Gasp! The Best Of 75 Years Of EC Comics" - which as someone mentioned on another thread is a misnomer since the stories are from a six year period - 1950 through 1955. The cover copy reading " A Selection Of Handpicked EC Comics Stories" makes more sense.

The book is a great sampler from the EC glory years with the emphasis on the horror material, naturally. Since the stories are grouped by artist, I have been skipping around rather than reading all the Johnny Craig stories or all the Jack Davis stories at one time. I would have preferred having them in chronological order or by original title. And while the original title and issue numbers are listed in the table of contents,  publication dates are not included which seems odd. These are minor quibbles though, the book is well worth having.

The covers I saw from Pendulum were spectacularly bad. Was that true of yours, Jeff?

As to Peter Cannon, it was published by Dynamite as a miniseries (coinciding with Doomsday Clock), and the collection came out Jan. 8. It's an oversize "deluxe" book, so I can see the art I didn't care for even better.

This was preceded by a 10-issue maxi in 2015 or so, that I didn't read. It's collected in the Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt Omnibus. I don't know if it's a Watchmen rip-off or not. 

It's kind of funny to think of Peter Cannon as a Watchmen ripoff, since Watchmen was, in part,a Peter Cannon ripoff.

I read the first issue of Peter Cannon, and I don't really think of it as a sequel or a ripoff. I think of it more as a piece of art that's commenting on other art. I found it interesting, but didn't continue buying it, because. like Cap, I didn't really care for the art, and also I know Dynamite often offers Comixology sales of its complete catalog for a buck apiece, if not better for the collections. If I ever get around to reading this, it'll be digitally.  

I realized that I actually had a preview of Peter Cannon, so you can see for yourself if you like the art. (I assure you, these are the best pages. As the book progresses, there is less and less detail.) I put the preview on previous post.

And for those of you who love comparing analogues (I confess I am one of those people) here are the Watchmen characters in Peter Cannon.

I think one of the themes of the book is that the characters on Peter Cannon's world are more Charlton than Watchmen, in that they compare better to the former than the latter, but as demonstrated by the growth shown by Nucleon and Cannon himself, they have the potential to become their Watchmen counterparts.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt: He's "the smartest man on Earth" and has the origin of the Charlton Thunderbolt, and the same South Asian sidekick -- although, this being the 21st century, is not a servant but actually Cannon's former lover, who hangs around to clean and cook out of love despite the relationship failing. The lack of empathy is an Ozymandias marker. And the description of the previous series indicates that Cannon did something Ozymandias-like to bring peace to his planet.

Nucleon: A Chinese woman who was caught in an atomic accident, a la both Dr. Manhattan and Captain Atom. She is more Captain Atom like here, including a suit that protects others from her radiation and atomic super-powers, but becomes more Dr. Manhattan-like when she visits and alternate dimension.

Pyrophorus: A guy in a red bug suit, obviously an analogue of Blue Beetle. His suit gives him extra strength, flight, etc. And he has some sort of flamethrower, since a "pyrophorus" is a fire beetle.

Supreme Justice: Peacemaker, with a superpatriot slant. No obvious super-powers, aside from self-righteous belligerence.

Baba Yaga: A Russian woman with magic powers. Corresponds to Nightshade, albeit more powerful. Watchmen's Silk Spectre was actually based more on Phantom Lady eventually, but she started from Nightshade.

The Test: This one's a puzzler. He should correspond to Rorschach, but seems unique. He has a two-week lifespan (evidently he's just the latest in a series), has Gatling guns for hands and is crazy. Maybe the last part is the Rorschach part.

“The covers I saw from Pendulum were spectacularly bad. Was that true of yours, Jeff?”

Not at all. The covers were pretty good, actually, all new (like the ones on the Valiant/Acclaim Classics Illustrated reprints). (See cover for "Series 1, Volumes 1" below.) Oddly, I have no idea what I paid for them because there’s no price on front or back or inside.

“I realized that I actually had a preview of Peter Cannon, so you can see for yourself if you like the art.”

Ah.

COMIC STRIPS: Little Orphan Annie is on a temporary hiatus. Currently I am reading Barney Google and Star Wars.

Barney Google and Star Wars would be an awesome comic.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

COMIC STRIPS: Little Orphan Annie is on a temporary hiatus. Currently I am reading Barney Google and Star Wars.

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