Report what comic books you have read today--and tell us a little something about it while you're here!
...I finished Saturday Evening Pearls. It's 2007-8 strips. One I enjoyed seeing again was a Sunday that parodies soap opera strips, I remember seeing that then! Topical references: Jokes on " Mission Accomplished " and someone's " stance " in the men's loo!
...I am now reading that 2019 Steve Roper & Mike Nomad crossover story in DICK TRACY,
The strip is copyrighted King Features so I guess Trib DID go OOB as a strip-distributing company! :-@! I tried to find that " Comic Strip Nation " page and could not find it, haven't tried for that Facebook version yet!
Me am re-read Tales of Bizarro World. It am very suspenseful because it am basically same story over-and-over with small variations.
It am mixed bag, though. There am some bits that are not tedious or unfunny, and even some that am amusing and clever.
Now re-reading The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen.
Now re-reading DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories.
Heh. Funny review of Tales of the Bizarro World. I've got all three of those collections. Here's a link to Imaginary Stories on Infinite Earths.
Just notified that my copy of Batman: Creature of the Night collection should be arriving Tuesday from Amazon.
Agents of Atlas #1-11 (2009): as part of "Dark Reign", Jimmy Woo tries to "Green Hornet" Norman Osborn and finds out what happened to his long lost love, Suwan. They battle Bucky-Cap and the New Avengers, Namor and the Hulk. Namora learns why she was born and her secret love! M-11 learns about his heritage. And they all learn not to trust dragons!
Blackhawk #244-251 (1976-77) mediocre reboot of the Ace Aviators. They get updated uniforms and secret identities. Drama is forced at every turn and no one explains why guys who fought in WWII still look the same age after thirty years! Standard super-villains, though Biolord was interesting and the return of both Killer Shark and the War Wheel! They add FIVE female supporting cast members including the bikini-wearing Duchess Fatale or Patch (she's called both) and Ilsa, Hendrickson's daughter! The brief revival ended with the death of a Blackhawk!
Dipping into some back issues lately:
Batman #490 - Bruce is NOT Batman. Azrael is. I was originally confused as I thought it was too early for Bruce's back to be broken. It was. Bruce is just sick in bed, and Azrael was running around as Batman. The Riddler is on the loose, so Bruce takes over Batman again. Bane gets to The Riddler first and injects him with some venom. This makes him a tougher physical opponent but his riddles are easier. Not a bad story, but I don't know if Jim Aparo was feeling the crunch, but the art wasn't that great. I did like the Travis Charest cover.
Batman Annual #18 - Part of the Elseworlds year of annuals, and it was terrible. Trying to tie-in Da Vinci into Batman with a tale that takes place in modern time and the past with Da Vinci. Dealing with the theft of the Mona Lisa now, and a tale of revenge in the past. It had weird pacing and terrible art. Hard pass.
Batman Annual #22 - This one was part of the Ghosts year. It was okay, but pretty weird.. A ghost has animated the armor that Azrael was using. he is using the armor to make one of his relatives have a miscarriage. If that happens, then the ghost will have a new body to live in? I don't know man. Cool Bernie Wrightson cover.
I recently bought the eight "Master Series" Vampirella TPBs. I'm halfway though, and enjoying them.
That's not a given; I generally think Vampirella is a truly stupid character and it takes a top-notch writer to make her work. Archie Goodwin took a moronic origin ("Draculon"? Really?) and basically ignored it, grounding her with a mission (fighting Chaos) and a supporting cast that was ... well, not that great. But he weaved it out of whole cloth, and it was enough to make the character work during Vampi's Warren years.
In her current incarnation at Dynamite, Vampi's backstory is entirely different: She's the firstborn of Lilith, Adam's first wife, Mother of Demons and Queen of Hell, who is now dead. But on her deathbed she reached redemption, and begged Vampi to correct her mistakes -- by wiping out all her other children, the vampires, werewolves, ghouls and other monsters that stalk the Earth. Which is not only a cool, cohesive mythology, but a strong, open-ended narrative that should provide plenty of story springboards. Well done, Dynamite.
But hold! It wasn't Dynamite! Apparently, this conversion happened sometime in between Warren and Dynamite, during Vampi's Harris years. I had no idea! I thought Harris was BS! But it turns out a parade of A-list writers achieved this -- and those writers, and their stories, are what comprise the "Masters" series.
So, yeah, I'm digging it. So far, the weakest story of the group has been Alan Moore's! The rest of the "team" consists of Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Kurt Busiek ... man, it's an all-star cast.
I will mention something I have noticed more and more as I read older material. And that's how older stories tend to suffer because so much is stolen from them. When some of this material was written, it was brilliantly original. Now, a lot of the ideas and concepts have since shown up in high-profile, Big Two storylines, where they were celebrated as if they were new. But now you and I know where they come from, right?
Which brings me to another thing I've been reading during the coronavirus isolation: Marvel Masters of Suspense: Stan Lee & Steve Ditko Volume 1.
Now, I have a LOT of Steve Ditko. Not just in the original pamphlets, or in early collections, but in the recent "focus" collections, like Fantagraphics' Steve Ditko Archives. Do I really need any more?
And, superficially, I don't. I have most of the material in this book in various Marvel Masterworks. This book doesn't add much new material to my library.
But it's cool to see all this stuff in the proper order, one story after another. I noticed Ditko advancing as an artist in the Ditko Archives, especially when he would experiment. But only gradually. In this collection, he really comes into his own -- especially with Lee doing the writing/editing.
Say what you like about Lee -- and I'm sick of hearing the detractors, so STFU, the lot of you -- but he was a solid writer and an outstanding editor. Not one of these stories has a flaw. They are rock-solid, mostly 6-page stories that tell all you need to know on page one, take the concept for a quick, fun ride, and then deliver a satisfying twist ending. The dialogue flows naturally, even 60 years later; the stories end with a professional flourish. The man was good.
But here again we need to mention how older stories get robbed of their best bits, and then when you read them later, you go, "Hey, I've already seen this!" At least two of these stories were stolen for Twilight Zone episodes (or, possibly, the other way around). At least a dozen more re-appeared in other forms I've seen, many of them in Marvel Comics.
But, phooey. I kept in mind that these stories came first, and given their entertainment value, that kept them fresh for me. Of all the '50s horror/suspense stories I've read in the last few years -- and, brother, that is a LOT -- I may have enjoyed these the most.
Maybe Lee is that good -- or maybe he was rising to the occasion. Because I'm beginning to think this is Ditko's peak as an artist.
Heresy, I know. But I've read all his 1950s work (that wasn't Marvel) in the Archives. And I've read all of his Charlton and Marvel work from 1961 to ... well, I've read all of it, even 1980s ROM. But right there, in the late '50s and early '60s (there's a TON of work from 1960 and 1961), is the best I've ever seen him do.
He is still experimenting in this material, but it's the experiments of a pro. He uses excellent rendering I've never seen him use before or since. He uses spot blacks -- especially clouds -- as a technique that he seemed to abandon with Spider-Man, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, The Question and Dr. Strange.
In fact, he uses tons of experiments here, most of which work, that I've never seen in his later superhero work. He keeps some of the cross-hatching, and maybe some of the scratch work on black. But everything else ... well, this is the first time I've seen him use some of this stuff (Kirby swipes!), and the last.
And, mind you, this is before Ditko became DITKO, and his eccentric mannerisms became his style. Yes, there are eccentric hands and exaggerated faces. But everything feels fresh here, not like his later work, which was often repetitive and derivative (of himself). Heck, he even tried to make his women attractive, something his later work didn't do!
But I shouldn't rush to judgment. There's a second volume in this series, which I will read next. I've perused the contents page, and a lot of it I have seen before. Did he do these things in those stories, and I simply don't remember? Was I not enough of Ditko expert when I read Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Adult Fantasy to not notice when he was doing cool things he would later abandon?
I don't know, but I'm going to find out. Stay tuned, Frantic One! The best is yet to be!
(Ditko) is still experimenting in this material, but it's the experiments of a pro. He uses excellent rendering I've never seen him use before or since. He uses spot blacks -- especially clouds -- as a technique that he seemed to abandon with Spider-Man, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, The Question and Dr. Strange.
I wonder if, because these stories were stand-alone, he could put one aside and work on it later while moving on to another. When doing a series on a single character deadlines are a major consideration.
That is an excellent insight, Richard.
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