Well here we are to my third box of unread comics. For those who haven't followed, theoretically I read a comic a day of comics I bought and never got around to reading. Some of them going back to the early '90s (well when I bought them I should say). I will review some of those comics. I tried to post one once a week, but I do get lazy. 

 

Enjoy!

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The 'Nam #15

Feb. 1988

Cover art by: John Beatty

 

Story: Notes From The World

Writer: Doug Murray

Breakdowns: Wayne Vansant

Finishes: Geof Isherwood

 

By this time Ed Marks has left Vietnam and is now back in the States. He has sent a letter back to Rob Little on what it is like back there. Rob reads it while hunkered down in a bunker during an alert.

 

Ed has been made a drill instructor, and before he goes to his new base he gets some personal time. He is first shocked that there are no cheering crowds at the airport to welcome him and the other soldiers home. He is frustrated with how they and their belongings are treated inside the airport. Just kind of tossed about helter skelter as they are looking for guys bringing drugs back in the U.S. Marks also doesn't understand all of the protests against the war, and is saddened when his own parents try to explain it to him. He also quickly learns that he and his old friends just don't get along any more. In the letter he glosses over what happened with his girlfriend, but due to the magic of the comic book page we see that she had a child from someone else. Watching the television shocks him as well, with the anti-war news reports and seeing his own countrymen running supplies to the enemies.

 

Marks is now at his new base, Jackson, to begin training troops. Some of the other instructors are back from Vietnam as well, and they have nightmares from their experiences. The training seems to be going well for the most part except for one recruit who Marks and the Sergeant are forced to wash out. Unfortunately, he appeared to be the only one who really wanted to be there. Ed concludes that no one is telling what really happened back in Nam and he will be going back to college and learn to tell that story.

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This was another good issue. It is a nice use of a common storytelling device. Someone reads a letter while we see what the letter is describing. For the most part the violence takes a back seat (there is a very little bit at the end) to show what is going on in the states.

 

By this time Michael Golden had left the series. Vansant and Isherwood do a decent job of aping his style, a little less cartoony though and a bit more simple. Still it keeps the feel and look good enough.

Just catching up on this thread, Travis. You got one of Bill Sienkiewicz's more legible signatures on this one. Or did you get them out of a bargain bin already signed? I'm not sure if you said. He's a nice guy, I met him and got some stuff signed at one of the one-day MiniCons in Charlotte a couple years back. He was impressed that I had a copy of Stray Toasters for him to sign.

Travis Herrick said:

Moon Knight #25

Nov. 1981

Cover art by: Bill Sienkiewicz

 

 

 

Story: Black Spectre

Writer: Doug Moench

Art: Bill Sienkiewicz

 

Carson Knowles is a war hero who has recently returned to the US. His reappearance does not go well for him. His wife leaves him, and takes his son. His boss didn't know when he would return so he gave his job to someone else. He finally gets a low paying job as a delivery man which he can keep as long as he has his own car. He also pays a visit to Mr. Cranston who is behind a powerful political machine. Cranston tells Knowles that since his father died Knowles has no political friends, and he couldn't get elected as a garbage man.

 

A few years pass and Carson Knowles learns his son was killed in a gang fight. His car gets stripped and destroyed while on a delivery so he loses his job. Carson is really in the dumps now. He reads an article the paper about Moon Knight, and uses his story as inspiration to become a criminal. He will be the Black Spectre and his underlings will be his Ghosts. His first order of business is to steal all of the incriminating documents that Boss Cranston has.

 

After he does this he goes to visit Cranston (as the Black Spectre), and tells him he needs to back Carson Knowles. Cranston refuses and the Spectre begins to beat on him, and his Ghosts take out Cranston's men. Moon Knight and Frenchie hear what is going on over their radio and head over there. Moon Knight and the Black Spectre square off, and the Black Spectre surprises MK with his speed and power. Taking out the Silver Sentinel with ease. Moon Knight does tear away the Spectre's mask and sees the man underneath. The police arrive and the Spectre and his men flee. Detective Flint and MK go talk to Cranston who refuses to tell them anything and that he is fine and was never even touched.

 

Later Marc Spector sees an ad on the TV for Carson Knowle's mayoral campaign and realizes he and Black Spectre are the same. The Black Spectre goes to talk to another political player Chiodo. Chiodo laughs at the Spectre like he did Cranston, and he tells the villain he ain't gonna play ball. Unfortunately, Chiodo brought a wrench to a sword fight. Marc Spector as Jake Lockley discovers Chiodo's dead body.

 

We next check in with Marc Spector who is having a heart to heart with Marlene. She tells Marc she can't be with him any more. He begs her to stay, not to be with him really, but to infiltrate Carson Knowles' mayoral campaign and see if she can find anything on him. She agrees. Frenchie gets beat up by some of the Spectre's men, and Marlene does get a job with Knowles, but she can find no malfeasance and refuses to believe that Carson Knowles and the Black Spectre can be the same person.

 

Moon Knight decides to go on the offense. He holds a press conference (his first ever!) and accuses Carson and the Spectre are one and the same. He has absolutely no proof to back it up. The media scoff at him, and when he tries to get Detective Flint to back him up, Flint issues a “no comment” and distances from Moon Knight.

 

Carson Knowles then calls in some favors with the police, and wants to have MK “arrested”. Some cops do find Moon Knight, and begin shooting. One of them does wing Moon Knight in the shoulder. MK stumbles back to his home, and Marlene leaves him. A pretty bad night.

 

The next night (I guess) Carson Knowles is enjoying the crowd outside of his office chanting his name. He is going up to the roof and wonders if Marlene will join him. Shes declines as she has work to do. It is then she discovers how Knowles has personal access to a lot of the public funds, and his plans to wreck the city. Knowles spies Moon Knight on the roof of an adjacent building, and he gets into his Black Spectre gear.

 

The Black Spectre gets the drop on Moon Knight and pretty much cleans his clock again. The Spectre claims victory and goes down stairs. Moon Knight collects himself and follows..eventually. He attacks the Spectre and they go crashing through the window to the street below. The police draw their guns on the pair, and Flint tells Moon Knight that just because Knowles is in the Black Spectre costume it still proves nothing. Marlene comes out of the crowd with her proof of Knowles' dealings. Carson Knowles is taken into custody and Moon Knight and Marlene leave together to work things out.

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Quite a humdinger of an anniversary issue. I generally like the villain inspired by the hero story. This was an execllent one. The Black Spectre used a cestus like Moon Knight did early in his career, and also much more brutal weapons like a sword and mace. As opposed to Moon Knights crescent darts and truncheon.

 

Sienkiewicz's art was just terrific as well. He was full blown into his own style by this point and it is amazing.

 

My only problem with this story was the timeline. I didn't know a lot of times how much time had passed between scenes, and it doesn't say. I get the years that passed between Knowles coming back and his becoming Black Spectre. The rest though I just don't follow.

 

I give it 5 1/5 Fists of Khonshu.

Mark, I got a whole slew of Moon Knight comics signed by Sienkiewicz at a show about a year or so ago. I've met him about 3-4 times, and he is very nice. He had a great panel at Wizard World Austin last year which I enjoyed until people started getting really into the minutiae of Elektra and some other series.

 

I was at Dragon*Con a few weeks ago, and my favorite moment was getting some photography advice from him as I was taking a picture of my cousin and her friends. I was at a live art show that had him and 3 other guys painting on some mostly nude models. That advice came along at about 2:15 in the AM.

The 'Nam #19

June 1988

Cover art by: John Beatty

 


 

 

Story: Milk Run

Writer: Doug Murray

Penciler: Wayne Vansant

Inker: Geof Isherwood

 

A group of Marine planes begin a run over the jungles of Vietnam. The men of the 23rd are waiting to rendezvous with some Australians. One of the planes gets shot down, as the soldiers look on. The men eventually go to their landing zone. One of the soldiers, Ice, hides a shotgun he is carrying in a bag claiming that it isn't allowed by the Geneva Convention. Once they are picked up, the copter pilot gets the SOS of the downed airmen. Since they are close, they fly over to pick him up.

 

They arrive, but one of the Hueys is shot down. One of the airmen is severely injured and they take him. The rest of the men of the 23rd and the pilot remain behind. Not too long after the group is attacked by some VC, and the pilot, Irish, is injured and unable to walk. A few of the soldiers jerry-rig a stretcher and march off looking for a safe place to stay for the night. At dinner Irish tells them they (the airmen) usually get to eat soup, salad, and stuff like steaks for dinner. The c-ration doesn't do much for him. He promises the soldiers that if they get him back safely he will send them steaks and all of the trimmings. That night Irish has a nightmare and wakes up screaming. They move out before the VC can find them, figuring for sure that they heard him.

 

The next morning they are picked up by another helicopter and lifted away safely. Several days later the men get a package that contains steaks, veggies, soup, dessert, and even wine.

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Man, I love that cover. Anyways, by this time two things non-story wise had happened to this series. One, they had moved to a better paper quality. Second, Vansant had developed his own, more realistic style for the comic and it really works. A decent amount of action this issue, while the other ones I have talked about don't have very much.

 

Does anyone know if shotguns really are outlawed my the Geneva Convention?

 

I give it 38 shell casings

Groovy, thanks Pete. I actually did try to look for myself, but couldn't find anything .

The Necromancer #1

Sept. 2005

Cover art by: Francis Manapul, Kevin Conrad, & Brian Buccellato

 


 

Story: Something in the Way part 1 of 3

Writer: Joshua Ortega

Penciler: Francis Manapul

Inkers: Kevin Conrad, Rob Hunter, Jay Leisten, Scott Koblish, & Rick Basaldua

 

This tale begins with a girl named Abby being tormented (verbally I should add) by a demon. She then begins to tell the tale of how she ended up where she is. It initially begins in colonial New England when a sorcerer of some sort binds a demon to a lake.

 

Flash forward to the almost present where we meet Abby Val Alstine. She is a cheerleader at Manitou High School. She comes home late “after the big game” and her father who is a pastor grounds her. She gets out of the punishment by offering to lead a bible study class with her friends. Abby's dad wants to be there to watch the study group which takes place in the basement, but she tells him she would be to nervous with him there. Well she didn't bring them there to study the bible she brought in a spell book. She begins reciting some random spell, and a demon appears. The demon begins to slaughter everyone on the house and walks up to Abby who is curled up in a ball on the floor.

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This is another book that I got as a “thank you” gift from the Hero Initiative for charity work I did for them a few years back. The story itself isn't to bad for a first issue intro book. Nothing to get excited about, but nothing horrendous going on either. It did get pretty gory at then end there.

 

Francis Manapul's art was interesting here though. It definitely has a Top Cow house style look to it, and the faces are very reminiscent of Todd Nauck's faces.

 

I give it 7 1/3 abracadabras.


WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

 

I break out of our regularly scheduled almost alphabetical run for a Comic a Day emergency. Do Not, I repeat do NOT buy any of Charlton's War comic, sometimes it had World at War on the cover. Either way these are not good comics. Specifically, issues #3, 28, 29, and 42. Sure it is possible I got the only 4 bad issues of the bunch but somehow I doubt. I really and truly wonder how this series ran 47 issues from 1975-1984. The best thing about any of these was Tom Sutton's cover to the third issue. The rest didn't even have a decent cover going for them.

 

It is a mystery as to how you can consistently make so many bland, boring war stories. With usually equally bad art. Sam Glanzman has some of his stories reprinted here from other Charlton books, but don't be fooled. These aren't any good either.

 

Predictable stories with predictable endings. Kanigher got some flack for how “by the numbers” his stories got in the end of his run, but it is nothing compared to these. Plus, he could still inject some drama in his pieces. These lacked that.

 

If you have never listened to me before, I beg of you to listen to me now.

 

Oh there was one other highlight:

I have an issue of Charlton's Attack at Sea that I thought decent when I read it ten years ago, but it's from an earlier period. (On the other hand, some of the stories in your issues may be reprints from the same time-frame.) I'll post a review of the issue later today in the "What Comic Books Have You Read Today?" thread.

Charlton's war comics were pretty wretched on an artistic level (except for Sam Glanzman's work), but interesting because they dealt so consistently with the Vietnam War. Marvel and DC shied away from dealing with that conflict as it became more and more divisive, but Charlton kept on clobbering the VC in "Fightin' Army," "Fightin' Marines," "Fightin' Air Force," etc. etc.

Luke, giving a cursory glance at the GCD a lot of those issues did have reprinted stories. One of the ones I had was reprinted two other times in War. Also a hat tip to the GCD for giving me the cover credits for issue #3.

 

George, maybe Charlton figured DC and Marvel had the market cornered on WWII tales, and the Korea War wasn't interesting enough for them. Or because Vietnam was such a hot topic they decided to tackle it. I would guess the latter myself.

Our Army At War #297

Oct. 1976

Cover art by: Joe Kubert

 


 

Story: Percentages

Writer: Robert Kanigher

Art: Frank Redondo

 

Sgt. Rock meets a successful general fresh from a campaign in Africa. The general gives Rock his acceptable percentages of troops lost on the field for the taking of Monte Inferno. From then on we meet characters in panel only to see them killed a bit later. Even though the introductions to the characters are only for a few panels there is a great sense of loss when they later die. Rock does take the time collect the dog tags. After the taking of Monte Inferno he confronts the general, showing him the dog tags and asking how they play into his accepted percentages. Since it is only half the comic this story flies by, but is really well done. Redondo does some really terrific panel layouts. Such as:

 

 

The ending might have been a bit over the top, but still effective.

 

 

Story: Wild Piper

Writer: Robert Kanigher

Art: Ric Estrada

 

This a bit of a silly story starring Jaimie MacTavish who comes from a long line of bag pipe players, but he is horrible at it. He practices all of the time, but never seems to get better. He is a gunner on a bomber, and during a mission they barely make it back. One of the Spitfire pilots thinks they are all screaming in agony, but it is MacTavish playing his bagpipes of course, “leading” his men back home. Like I said it is a bit silly, but considering these stories are almost always a downer featuring something a little more light-hearted is perfectly fine by me. Estrada's art is a bit cartoony, but really fits the story being told. By this time Kanigher had been doing these war stories forever, but these two are still pretty good pieces of work.

 

And I love that cover

 

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