Via pal Tom: reviews of Green Arrow’s trick arrows. (Net arrow – a C+? Don’t they know how useful that is?)
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Tales of Suspense #28 (April 1962)
In the distant future, as shown in “The Secret of the Black Planet” by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, criminals still bust rocks with sledgehammers, only in space:
And bust out Bruno does, by hiding in an empty crate which is placed on a supply ship. In space, mind you. Anyway, once in space, Bruno pops out of his crate, grabs a jet pack, and jumps out through the very clearly labeled “Emergency Escape Hatch” (which looks more like a pneumatic tube). Luckily, the ship was apparently passing so close to a random planet that Bruno was able to fly down to the surface without ever being exposed to open space, since he clearly isn’t wearing a spacesuit:
Note that second panel: “I’ll never pay for my crimes now!” Ironic comeuppance, dead ahead! He finds signs of civilization on this planet:
Thus his plan, stated in an earlier panel, to “steal a private ship and head for another galaxy” (which seems a little drastic…a distant solar system would be enough, you think) appears to be approaching fruition. And sure enough, Bruno spots what appears to be a rocket ship in the distance. He rushes toward the rocket, only to notice something odd:
Only it’s not getting bigger…it’s coming closer! And once it gets close enough, Bruno reaches a horrifying conclusion:
Okay, where do I start:
1. I really hope to God that’s supposed to be a mouth.
2. As pal Dorian mentioned to me, it doesn’t appear that the rocket-ship creature really has speed on its side, so Bruno could probably outrun it fairly easily.
3. It also appears pretty top heavy, and there are hills on this planet, judging from background shots in previous panels…if Bruno takes to high ground, he should be safe. Unless those “arms” on the rocket creature are more effective than they look, in which case he’s screwed.
4. What are Bruno’s crimes, anyway? I guess we’re supposed to assume that they’re pretty awful, given that the twist ending means he’s “doomed forever.” It’s gotta be at least murder. I mean, if it’s just tax evasion or embezzlement, does he really deserve to be “doomed forever?”
5. What kind of turn of phrase is “doomed forever,” anyway? Is he going to be chased by a slow, lumbering rocket-monster for all time? Either he’s going to escape, or he’s going to be eaten right quick. It looks like the situation will be resolved one way or the other sooner rather than later.
6. If the surprise twist ending of your story is that the giant rocket that your main character sees is actually a horrible monster, the very first image the reader sees from this story probably shouldn’t be this:
7. Why is it called “The Black Planet?” It doesn’t appear to be any darker in hue than normal. It’s never called “The Black Planet” in the story. Maybe the giant rocket aliens are Public Enemy fans.
8. Back to the rocket-monster…those legs appear to be placed toward the front of the body, and I don’t see a tail. If that creature tries to move at all, unless it’s hunched forward, or unless the gravity on this world is much less than that of Earth, it’s gonna fall.
9. I’m guessing that the tube Bruno found was all that was left of a previous victim of the rocket-monster…Bruno states, upon finding another piece of equipment, that the items could have fallen from a passing spaceship (and not, say, burn up in the atmosphere or anything), but it’s never decided one way or another.
10. Did I mention that I hope that’s a mouth?
It’s Sunday, it’s a holiday weekend, and I’m tired: so you’re getting one of my lazy posts:
1. Recent acquisitions: Nancy and Sluggo #192 (Dell Comics, Oct 1963) – this is the last issue of the series…it’s in really beat condition (including glue “repair” at the staples). It’s complete, it’s readable, and it was cheap (two bucks!). Also included was a short Peanuts strip, just as slightly off-model as the Nancy stories. Fun stuff, if a little strange…Nancy and Sluggo seem so out of place in extended narratives, but it’s oddly compelling. (Read more about this comic series here.)
The Nostalgia Journal #27 (Fantagraphics, Aug (July on the cover) 1976) – this is the first issue of the adzine edited by Gary Groth, as it began its transition to The Comics Journal we all know and love today. It’s newspaper tabloid format, and most of the issue is given over to exposing the business practices of the publisher of adzine competitor The Buyer’s Guide (which would later become The Comic Buyer’s Guide). Also featured is a transcript of a ’71 radio interview with Jack Kirby, and a short article by Doug Fratz on his top ten favorite fanzines from the 1960s. And, being an adzine, there’re plenty of ads….Jungle Comics in fair to good condition for $1.50? Arrgh! Where’s my time machine?
2. Heard a customer say to her significant other yesterday: “aren’t comic books supposed to be funny?” (Me: “Just the X-Men.” — Okay, I really didn’t say that.)
3. Hey, look, Alan David Doane’s Comic Book Galaxy is back!
Worlds Unknown 3 (Sept 1973), cover art by Rich Buckler & Wayne Howard
Star Wars #50 (August 1981) demonstrates the problem with media tie-in comics…since Han Solo was frozen in carbonite and whisked away by Boba Fett at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, all the comics published between that movie and the then-forthcoming third film Return of the Jedi had to make do without everyone’s favorite space-smuggler.
Either that, or you do lots of flashbacks. This issue (by Archie Goodwin, Al Williamson, Tom Palmer, and Walt Simonson) is no exception…Luke Skywalker is stuck down by a fatal disease known as “The Crimson Forever” – and the only clue to a possible cure is in a past adventure with Solo and Chewbacca. This is a solid Star Wars story, with good adventure writing by the always dependable Goodwin, and if you’re familiar with the names in the illustration credits, you know the art is quite lovely. Unfortunately, the muddy reproduction and the crummy paper undermine the linework. The only real misstep (if you can call it that) in the whole issue is the interjection of an ongoing antagonist created for the comics…it just seemed a little out of place in a special issue that, for 90% of the story, was self-contained and focused primarily on the characters from the movies.
However, if you can overlook that character just showing up out of nowhere (there’s enough clunky exposition thrown in there to catch you up), this is a fun Star Wars adventure, and worth seeking out.
look+for+criminals+named+sterling (You got nuthin’ on me, copper!)
comic+weblogs (that’s narrowing it down)
wet+his+pants+briefs (the less I know, the happier I’ll be)
help+i’m+trapped+in+my+sister’s+body (I swear to God this is in my logs)
that+girl+can+pee+a+real+flood (again, I swear…doing that entry on people peeing in the store hasn’t done me any favors)
ATARI+A+B+C+D+E+F+G+H+I+J+K (uh, what?) (EDIT: I’ve been informed this is probably a search method to find ROMs.)
shakespeare+good+or+bad+writer (I’ll say…GOOD! No, wait, BAD!)
peanut+slave+usage+wein (I don’t even get this one)
future+marvel+movies+coming+out+between+2004+3000 (now that’s planning ahead)
Plus, lots and lots of people looking for scans of story pages from recently released comics, and lots of searches just on my name (maybe they should look here instead).
Flash #300 (August ’81) was a 48-page no-ads issue by Cary Bates, classic Flash artist Carmine Infantino, and Bob Smith. Underneath the wraparound cover (showing the Flash feeding knuckle sandwiches to his many villains) we find Barry Allen, heavily bandaged, stuck in a hospital bed. Apparently the accident that gave Allen his super-speed powers instead burned him severely, and his entire Flash career was nothing more than a delusion to cope with his injuries. Allen’s not convinced, of course, and as the story progresses he flashes (har har) back on his own origin, his career, and his friends and allies (like the Elongated Man and Green Lantern). He also goes over the origins of all the villains in his rogues gallery trying to determine which one is most likely responsible for his predicament. It’s a nice overview of the character’s history, as drawn by the one artist most associated with the Flash.
A nice touch is one of Fred Hembeck‘s patented illustrated essays on the inside front and back covers, where he looks at some of the Flash’s more bizarre adventures, accompanied by his fun cover recreations: “I’ve got the strangest feeling I’m being turned into a puppet!” says the Flash; “Just how does one get the feeling he’s being ‘puppetized’?” is Fred’s reasonable response.
By the way, the Wally West Flash series only needs another 35 issues or so, and there will be as many issues of the current version of the Flash as of the Barry Allen Flash. How weird is that? It seems like just yesterday I was buying the first issue of the new Flash series off the shelf.
- JLA #94 – if I were John Byrne, I would be incredibly pissed at the coloring error near the climax of the story…without giving it away, one character shouts that something is one color when the stuff in question is most definitely another color. (And yes, the color is a plot point.) I haven’t popped in over at the Byrne forums yet, but I imagine there is much blowing of gaskets.
EDIT: Actually, just popped in. Yup, he’s not happy. I don’t blame him.
- Batman: Harley and Ivy #2 – well, if the shower scene in the first issue didn’t convince retailers to not try to sell this to the same young audience that buys Batman Adventures, this issue’s splash page (or, rather, splayed page) certainly will. Still good fun…but not for the kiddies!
- The Comics Journal #260 – it’s a little closer to that middle-ground comics magazine the Comicsweblogosphere was going on about over the last week or two. I particularly like the “Journal Datebook” news round-up. Haven’t had a chance to read the mag yet, but it looks like Dirk Deppey did a good job on his first full issue as managing editor.
- Promethea #30 – remember a couple entries back where I mentioned that Uncanny X-Men #175 probably wasn’t the best place to start reading the title? That applies even more so to Promethea. Hoo boy. If you didn’t like this title before, you’re not gonna like it now. I, on the other hand, loved it. Look for the cute sight gag involving Tomorrow Stories‘ First American.
- Punisher #6 – oh, dear. The long-time Punisher fans are going to hate this issue.
- The Moth #2 and DC: The New Frontier #4 – haven’t had a chance to read these yet, but did want to note how fantastic the art is in both of these books. Absolutely wonderful. I’m really just grateful to have Steve Rude drawing anything on a regular basis again.
- Legion #33 – is there anyone reading the Legion of Super-Heroes now that hasn’t been reading it for twenty years? It just doesn’t seem like the kind of title that attracts new readers on a regular basis. Even throwing Superboy on the covers only bumped up sales a copy or two at the store. I mean, I like it, but it seems a little insular. I know there’s a Mark Waid/Barry Kitson revamp coming, but short of starting over from scratch yet again, I don’t know what they expect they can do to expand the readership.
Oh, and I understand a new X-Men book of some sort came out today as well.
Detective Comics #500 is cover-dated March 1981, and was blurbed as the “500th Anniversary Celebration,” which means, of course, that Detective Comics began publishing in 1481. Actually, this is issue #500 of the long-running series, and this would have been its 43rd or 44th anniversary issue, which isn’t as terribly impressive as a 500th anniversary, but still, it’s nothing to sneeze at.
This is yet another anniversary issue I bought off the stands as a child (11, this time), and apparently I was impressed enough with this issue that I plunked down $1.50 of my hardly-earned money to take it home with me. And I’m glad I did, as it remains a favorite of mine to this day.
This advertising-free 80-pager features the following stories:
- “To Kill A Legend” by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano – the Phantom Stranger whisks Batman and Robin away to a parallel Earth, where they must prevent the deaths of the parents of the young Bruce Wayne of that world. Or must they?
- “The ‘Too Many Cooks’ Caper” by Len Wein and Jim Aparo – starring Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s other creation, Slam Bradley, as well as such other DC detective characters as Roy Raymond, Pow-Wow Smith, the Human Target, and more. A nice reminder that the comic is called Detective Comics for a reason.
- “Once Upon A Time” by Len Wein and Walt Simonson – a two-page Batman adventure based on, of all things, the story written by that long-suffering author, Snoopy. Yes, even the line “suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon” makes it into the story.
- “The Final Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe!” by Mike W. Barr and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez – in a nice touch, this story (starring that strechable sleuth, the Elongated Man) centers around a lost magazine edited by the creator of the detective story, Edgar Allan Poe.
- “The Batman Encounters Gray Face” by Walter Gibson, with illustrations by Tom Yeates – this is an 8-page prose story by Gibson, the creator of the pulp hero the Shadow.
- “The Strange Death of Doctor Erdel” by Paul Levitz and Joe Kubert – the title of this story, which stars Hawkman and Hawkgirl, doesn’t appear in the story itself, just in the table of contents…which is just as well, since for longtime DC fans, the doctor’s name gives away the surprise ending of the story, involving a character that shared the pages of Detective for several years.
- “What Happens When A Batman Dies?” by Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino, and Bob Smith – the final story involves Batman, being struck down by a mysterious poison, journeying into the afterlife (accompanied by Deadman) and being confronted by not only all the people he has helped over the years (but apparently died anyway), but by the two people Batman — that is, Bruce Wayne — misses the most. The odd thing about this story…if it were still in continuity, the result would be that Batman would no longer have the emotional baggage from the tragedy of his youth…the very tragedy that feeds the need for vengeance that fuels his vigilante career. But, really, I don’t care, because I love this story anyway.
Inside the back cover is a brief text piece detailing the creators and characters that appear in this issue. A nice bit is the sequence bordering the text piece showing the progression of the jam cover on this issue…a six panel “strip” showing as each piece of the cover is added, along with the signature of the artist responsible. It’s a lot nicer than your standard “key to the cover” that you usually get with this sort of thing.
For a brief period of time, shortly after I had bought this issue, it turned up missing, which made me fairly unhappy as you might imagine. However, as it turns out, it just ended up somehow getting mixed in with a pile of my dad’s gun magazines…and you can maybe see a small measure of irony there, what with losing a Batman comic among gun mags, if you kinda squint a little.
Well, if you were going to get a copy of this today, it’ll cost you a little more than the $1.50 I had to fork over, but it’s a solid and enjoyable package that still holds up all these years later.
2. Apparently the superhero parody movie The Incredibles will undermine all the serious work done with superhero comics. You know, like Byrne’s JLA.
That’s a huge assumption, thinking the general public gives any thought to superhero comics one way or the other (beyond “hey, I hear old comics are worth something” or “they still publish these things?”).
2a. On a related note…the Adam West Batman TV show was a fairly accurate depiction of superhero comics, despite what some comic fans want to believe. (Not that I’m complaining about either…West’s Batman is still my favorite live-action version, though Alyas Batman and Robin is a very close second.)
3. Speaking of Byrne…ever notice how much Neil Gaiman’s Sandman resembles Byrne’s Alpha Flight run? Both feature super-hero teams that don’t really fight together as a team, and the members of the teams don’t even necessarily get along with each other; both feature the death of a team member that’s immediately replaced by another team member; there’s crossovers with other superhero teams early in the series (the Justice League pops up in Sandman, the Fantastic Four (or, rather, Invisible Woman) in Alpha Flight); there’s a lot of magic roaming around in each series, there are solo adventures of some of the characters; and so on. The one negative point against Sandman — a marked lack of Super Skrull, who makes a notable appearance in Alpha Flight.