CAPTAIN AMERICA #176-192: Of this run of issues, the only two I chose to get rid of in the ‘80s were #187-188. Frank Robbins was the artist for a good chunk of these issues, and I did not like his style (at the time) at all. It has since grown on me and is often said to be of the Milton Caniff school. I can certainly see that, but I see a lot of Harvey Kurtzman in it, too. The reason I kept the majority of these issues although I hated the art is simple: story trumps art. This Nomad/Falcon/Red Skull is a classic, right from the iconic John Romita cover that starts it off.
In this classic arc, Steve Rogers gives up the identity of Captain America for a time, eventually adopting a new heroic identity, Nomad. This move was unprecedented, and his return to being Captain Americ was heralded by another iconic cover image.
When John Warner took over the writing from Steve Englehart, it took him two issues, #187-188, to get a handle on the characters. These are the two I chose to get rid of because they did nothing to advance the overall plot. The run reads better skipping from #186 to 189. Although I didn’t realize it back in the ‘80s the last time I read these stories, John Warner was drawing heavily on the Lee/Kirby issues of Strange Tales and Tales of Suspense.
I think that’s a good thing, because I had forgotten that Nick Fury and Captain America had such an adversarial relationship throughout the ‘70s up to this point. As the details of the Falcon’s origin come to light, Nick Fury is temporarily out of the picture, having been replaced by “co-director” (although obviously subordinate) Jeff Cochran. When he returns, he becomes Sam Wilson’s parole officer and reinstates Captain America’s A-1 Priority clearance.
NOTE TO RICHARD WILLIS: It is issue #186 in which Gabe Jones and Peggy Carter share a kiss, but Englehart had been building up to it for some time.
Incidentally, it’s not often that comic book writers nail down character’s exact ages, but it happened three times during this run: Peggy Carter is 47; Leila Taylor is 23; Deadly Nightshade is 18. I never cared much for Leila as a character, but my opinion has softened now that I know she was only 23.
Issue #192 is a done-in-one placeholder marking time until Jack Kirby was ready to take over as writer/editor with #193. It is drawn by Frank Robbins, but I kept because it introduced the character Karla Sofen, who would later go on to become Moonstone.
Thanks for pinning down the Gabe/Peggy romance. I would have sworn that it happened much earlier, and didn't remember that they kissed in-panel.
So, the other day I worked at my LCS (yay, I got paid to read some comics!). This I what I put down:
Reborn #1-6: A Mark Millar joint. A story where everyone is reborn in another dimension(?) or something? Our protagonist is the typical fantasy/sci-fi heroine of prophecy who will crush the evil of the world. It was a good not great series, and issue 6 proclaims it the end of Book 1. There were some very good bits, so I would recommend it, BUT get it on the cheap if you can. I think the trade comes out in either July or August.
Iron Fist #1-4: Now, I'm a huge Iron Fist fan, and I was hesitant about this series. I will admit I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Even if we get the tired bit of K'un L'un being destroyed. Here we get Danny going to an island that no one knows about to compete in a kung-fu tournament to get some of his chi back. This doesn't finish the storyline, which I hate, but it was still a pretty fun run of comics. Plus, thee was a neat little nod to the 80s Karate Kid movie in issue #3 that just tickled me. I recommend this as well.
*** Please note that my recommendations come one the fact that i didn't have to pay to read them ***
Nick Fury #2: The first two issues give off a strong Steranko vibe with dazzling and pop-art visuals but we still don't know much about Fury, Jr. He's an agent of SHIELD battling HYDRA with stoic grace and quips.
Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1: If this series is going to be a celebration of all of Jack Kirby's DC work, I'm fine with that. Crisp artwork and dialogue and Forager becomes a real character here and one I like!
Archie #20: "Over the Edge, Part 1" Archie & the gang are put into a Jan & Dean song! Can there be real consequences in an Archie comic? Also they want to portray Betty & Veronica as strong women but they're still fighting over this idiot!
Batman #23: "The Brave and the Mold!" The Strangest Team-Up in History? Bah! Happened at least FIVE times already! Plus Batman makes a terrible mistake that no rookie cop would have done!
Luke Cage #1: After the light-heartedness of Power Man & Iron Fist and the raw emotions of Jessica Jones, we have a much calmer and efficient Luke here but he gets rocked by no less than FOUR incidents that shake him to his core!
Zombies Assemble #1: From Japan in the manga style, the Movie Avengers battle a Zombie Plague and two of them get infected! Better than it sounds!
Today, I read:
Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian #1: I like how this brought Marvin the Martian into the DC Universe "realistically" and treated him like an actual threat. I didn't really care for how seriously this book took itself. It could have been done a little less preachy. Don't get me wrong; I totally agree with the message here. It's just that it could have been given in a different book. I did love the back-up, and I also was a sucker for the Stephen DeStefano cover. Any DeStefano I can get, I'm in!
Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny #1: This was brilliant. I love the way they acknowledged right away through Dream Girl's statement "An homage!" that this was going to be what it was. Everything in this book was wonderful. Sam Humphries is obviously a longtime Legion fan. This book could have been inserted into the 80's Legion books and worked. This is exactly what I loved about the Amalgam Comics Spider-Boy issue. Every page, every panel was a celebration of the source material on both sides.
Winnebago Graveyard #1: This was an interesting issue. It was written by Steve Niles with art by Alison Sampson. From Image, this is definitely a horror comic. It didn't read like an entire issue, but that's okay. I got just enough to keep me intrigued. A 13-year-old boy and his mom and stepdad go to a roadside carnival while on a road trip in a Winnebago. Things quickly turn eerie. I like this book. I may wait for the first trade, as I do with most Image comics.
Jazz Maynard #1: This book from Lion Forge Comics was a very nice product. It was written by someone only identified by "Raule" and drawn by someone only identified by "Roger", and it was very well-written and extremely well drawn. It was the story of a jazz trumpet player who has to play gun man to save an acquaintance from his past. This was pretty much a done-in-one, although another issue is alluded to. I thought the art was especially cool with this book--very stretchy, it reminded me of the work of Adam Pollina (whatever happened to him?).
The 1000 Yard Stare: A Bulletproof Coffin One-Shot: I loved this book so much. I may have enjoyed the "comic within a comic" even more. There is something about the way this "ashcan" called Hypno Vampires From the Stars that was incredibly awesome. It was retro without being annoying whatsoever. It actually held up. Plus, the whole book was just a gem about being a creator at a comicon. I thought the whole thing was hilarious and intriguing at the same time.
Accell #1: This is another one from Lion Forge (Jazz Maynard). However, this one is by a very familiar writer, Joe Casey, and a very familiar-to-me artist, Damion Scott. Plus, the inker is Robert Campanella, who teamed up with Scott on the masterfully drawn Batgirl about fifteen years ago. It is appropriate that Joe Casey is writing this one for me. It is about a speedster, and one of my favorite Flash issues is a flashback issue about Wally West as Kid Flash versus Gorilla Grodd. This speedster, however, is a little bit different from Flash because he has real damage done to him during his fights, which doesn't manifest itself until the battle is over. Luckily, though, the protagonist in this book has an accelerated healing factor during his recuperating time. This was a great book, and it was lots of fun to see a super-hero's first issue come after his origin story, which will undoubtedly eventually be told. I love the art team, and as long as they can keep up this level of quality, I will be a reader for the long-term.
I've been away for a while but finally back trying to catch up with my reading...
Occupy Avengers v1 Take Back Justice..(trade)
I enjoyed this book, it is one of the most promising recent Marvel series and I hope more like this see their way into print once the ‘Legacy’ drive kicks in.
I come to it having liked the 1872 mini-series and the Red Wolf mini that followed but never quite warming to the modern Hawkeye.
This is my favourite Hawkeye series since he stopped wearing the classic suit.
I withheld the fifth star from this review due to the few (only 4) issues included other than the two reprints and the fact that the Red Wolf presented in those reprints bears virtually no relation to the Red Wolf of the main book.
The artwork is brilliant, the writing well-paced and the characterisation considered, even if Red Wolf is a tad generically man-out-of-time/place, what I did like was some subtle humour in the banter but not to the point of slapstick which grates on me.
No real world shattering plots makes this a nice contrast to most of the Marvel stable – I just hope it survives the marketplace.
Last night I read the first volume of Undertaker by Xavier Dorison and Ralph Meyer. It's an excellent western published by Europe Comics; I picked it up during a Comixology sale. I wish I'd realized it was continued when I'd bought it, or else I'd have bought volumes 2 and 3 right away. Meyer's art is gorgeous, and he and Dorison give us a compelling main character in Jonas Crow, an undertaker with a mysterious past and a history of violence he's trying to leave behind. The story centers on transporting the body of a gold mine owner back to the site of his first strike.
I highly recommend it; the volumes are $7.99 at Comixology, so it might be best to wait for another sale. But I'll certainly be keeping my eye out for the next one.
I downloaded most of the recent Eisner nominee Humble Bundle. This morning I read Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In . It's a one-shot featuring the cats (as the title implies), with an assist from a raccoon. I love this series. In this story the cats have to banish a demon.
Also read about a third of the anthology Love Is Love (created in response to the mass murder in Orlando). All of the stories I read were only a page long, two pages at most. They're not all somber, but enough are that I expect to finish the rest in a couple of sittings. Incredibly diverse, as I expected, and I liked enough of them that I will certainly read the rest eventually.
Although I finished off my CAPTAIN AMERICA reading project before I left, I am still reading MONSTERS and the BRAVE & THE BOLD OMNIBUS. It is my intention to continue reading one classic Marvel and once classic DC series for the foreseeable future. Another thing I usually have on my list of projects at any given time (but haven’t for a while now) is at least one newspaper comic strip collection.
BUCK ROGERS: I’m looking forward to re-reading several of Howard Chaykin’s post American Flagg! series soon (I have now officially dropped various FRANKENSTEIN series from my project list), but before reading his version of Buck Rogers, I wanted to read some of the originals.
MAD ABOUT TRUMP: I had come to the conclusion that Mad magazine had long since lost its satirical edge, but this collection has proven me wrong.
LOST PLANET: I read quite a few Eclipse series back in the ‘80s, but this one by Bo Hampton wasn’t one of them. Although originally presented in color, the decision was made to do the reprint in b&w to better display the effects of the special art board (rarely used since the hey-day of EC and no longer manufactured) for the reprint. The story itself reminds me of a cross between Mark Schultz’s Xenozoic Tales and Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. The story is set in an other dimensional fantasy world with some famously “missing persons” such as Amelia Earhart, Judge Crater and Ambrose Bierce, in addition to original characters. Quite good stuff!
SUPERBOY & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: Picking up where the DC Archive series left off.
Batman #25: I loved this book. It was the first chapter in "The War of Jokes and Riddles." This story, it seems, will all be told in flashback. I find this to be a welcome change. Tom King knows what he's doing. Plus, the art by Mikel Janin is beautiful. I can't wait to see what happens. I do not like that the Riddler is a murderer now, though. I think he always worked better as a thieving trickster.
Shirtless Bear-Fighter #1: This is exactly what it sounds like. It was pretty good in a silly way, but probably not enough to get me to come back. The best I will give it is a first trade read if I hear bigger and better things from the forthcoming issues.
Bug #1: This is the issue from Michael Allred (plus his family, Lee and Laura) about Forager from Jack Kirby's Fourth World. It happens pretty much as fallout from Cosmic Odyssey. Well, I don't know what I expected, but this was trippy and crazy. It was good, but I could just tell that it was made for someone else. I wanted to like it, because I like the Fourth World, and I want to like Mike Allred (something about the way he draws eyes just unnerves me). I have already bought the second issue, so I will go ahead and read that and see what I think.
Crosswind #1: Gail Simone's new Image book is a gritty take on the body switcheroo idea. The writing is good and the dialog is nice and realistic without going into the uncanny valley of Bendis wording. The art on this book, though, is just a little too photo-referenced for me to fully embrace it. I don't mind photo-referencing when it doesn't look traced, but this does. If Cat Staggs can loosen up a little bit, it will work much better. I will give this the same treatment I give all Image books. I will read the first trade if I hear things are good for the first handful of issues.
Kill the Minotaur #1: I thought this was an interesting premise. It's a retelling of the Greek myth of the Labyrinth. It's written by Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa--both new names to me. The art by Lukas Ketner reminds me a lot of Tom Fowler. I have some pretty high hopes for this comic. It's refreshing to read a book that takes place in the distant past, and this is a relatively untouched part of Greek mythology. I won't spoil it, but it is very well done.
Helena Crash #3: I love this book! It's about an underground coffee dealer who has to battle her way through ninjas and goes to her blind former boxing trainer/childhood mentor for guidance. It sounds like something I would hate, but I love it. The art is incredible. This one comes from IDW, and is written by Fabian Rangel, Jr. and drawn by Warwick Johnson Cadwell.
"I could just tell that it was made for someone else."
I was made for me. You must have gotten one of my pulls by mistake. :)