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Sergeantstein and his Maraudin’ Monsters is Pete Von Sholly’s latest trade paperback release, and if you’ve been reading comics for any length of time at all, you may find the premise slightly familiar. A bunch of monsters (such as the mummy G.I. Ho-Tep, the vampire Battlebat, Warwolf, and Sergeantstein himself) are teamed up in a military squad to do battle against…well, more monsters, actually. On a surface level, this may sound similar to the Creature Commandos from DC Comics, but where DC played it mostly straight with their military monsters, Von Sholly takes the more entertaining route of outright goofiness. There’s something just inherently cool about monsters fighting monsters, and the subject matter is a good match for Von Sholly’s clear, bright and colorful art style. The writing is more concerned with jokes than with plot, and is never terribly deep, but then, it doesn’t have to be. It just has to be funny, and in that it succeeds admirably. An extended parody of H.P. Lovecraft is particularly effective, and while a familiarity with Lovecraft’s work will aid in the appreciation of this story, Von Sholly packs in enough general silliness that you non-Lovecraftian scholars out there will still find plenty to enjoy. A short strip with Sergeantstein taking his nephews (“Chewy, Gooey, and Screwy”) to the movies allows for some satirical jabs at special effects-laden modern films (both sci-fi extravaganzas like The Matrix and more recent monster movies like Hellraiser and Nightmare on Elm Street), which is surely meant as a contrast to the old-style monster movies that this comic is an homage to.
Overall, it’s big, goofy fun, and, in its own peculiar way, a nice tribute to the monster movies of decades past.
I direct you to Mr. Von Sholly’s own site for a several page preview of the book.
#2 is due out in your finer comic shops today, and I don’t know what else to tell you that I haven’t told you
before. This is the flashback issue, as we get to see what happened to Captain Valor’s old universe prior to being sent to his non-powered counterpart Milo’s parallel universe. The flashbacks are purposefully illustrated in a more superheroic style by Mark Badger and Shannon Denton that, while appropriate to the material being presented, does come across as a slightly distracting contrast to regular artist Joe Abraham’s more down-to-earth slightly cartoony style. Not saying it’s bad or anything, just different from what I was used to seeing in this book…and you know how us comic book fans are about things that are new and different! (Oh, relax, I’m just kidding. Mostly.)
Anyway, the flashbacks are framed with a nice contrast of scenes, where on Earth Captain Valor has a chat with Milo’s girlfriend Stephie, while in space Milo is a captive audience to Valor’s arch-nemesis Caliginous…who is an evil version of Stephie! Only in comics, folks, and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis have a lot of fun with this slightly convoluted situation.
For those of you out there looking for a breather from the angst and crossover shenanigans in other superhero comics on the stands, this might be just what you’re looking for.
Busy morning, so I only have time to show you this.
(Seems to be inspired slightly by Hong Kong Phooey.)
So, in that same collection I was talking about yesterday, we received a copy of the second issue of G.I. Joe Order of Battle, sort of a Marvel Universe for the Joes. We haven’t had a copy of #2 for quite a while, which is a shame, because it has one of my favorite comic book pages:
CLICK TO ENLARGE
Yes, that’s right, the character from the Sylvester Stallone film series was to be a member of the G.I. Joe team. Alas, ’twas not to be, as the last page of the very next issue was devoted entirely to this disclaimer:
Sigh…poor Rocky, “retconned” so quickly.
However, the second issue of G.I. Joe Order of Battle has an even more puzzling image (independently discovered and shown to me by both pal Dorian and Kid Chris, who were equally puzzled):
The hell? Was this a member of G.I. Joe’s “furry” division, laying down her life in the battle against Cobra?
Okay, I couldn’t just leave it at that. I suppose I could be a bit dickery and just mock Bongo the Balloon Bear without knowing a darn thing about her, but a little research (well, okay, a quick trip to the Google) turns up this synopsis. And this custom figure.
A “Bongo the Balloon Bear” custom figure. God bless you, fans.
Also of note:
Booksteve’s Library is a fine new weblog focusing on comics and other pop-culture items, featuring vintage ads and some classic paperbacks.
The Successless Comics Blog is successful, indeed…currently covering a readthrough of Cerebus (something I myself planned to do on this site a while back, but…ooh, look, something shiny!).
Lady, That’s My Skull – three words: Groin Injury Saturday. Also covers pulps, points out some examples of basic human stupidity, and best of all…Killdozer! (Note to Kid Chris…that last link should satisfy your recent Killdozer obsession!)
AndyM likes my site. Thanks, AndyM!
I only met Jack Kirby once, but once was enough to shake the hand that created and drew Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the New Gods, Thor, Fighting American, the Newsboy Legion, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Hulk, Devil Dinosaur, and countless others.
I’m glad I had that opportunity to meet him.
Happy 88th, Jack.
1. Hey, wait a minute…the figure in that Marvel Comics Star Wars corner box looks nothing like Mark Hamill:
2. Apparently, my post about the Human Fly
from a few days ago has triggered something primal and frightening in the head of Tim O’Neil, because suddenly he’s got a couple mighty posts
on the very same topic, with more to come. Essential reading! Well, as essential as anything about ’70s footnote “The Human Fly” can possibly be, I guess.
3. One of my longtime customers had been after a particular mid-80s Marvel comic for quite some time. Nothing special about the comic, not “valuable” or a “collector’s item” by any means…just an issue from a short run series that never sold terribly well, and the issue was from late in the run so its print run was surely lower still. So, about once a month, when I’d see this customer, he’d ask me “did you get it in yet?” “No,” I’d answer, with great and sincere remorse. This has gone on for several years.
My latest monthly encounter with this customer was this past Friday, when he informed me that, after years and years of searching, he finally found a copy of the comic in question. I was sad that I wasn’t able to get the comic for him, but, as a comic collector myself, I know what it’s like to finally fill that gosh-dang stupid hole in your run after looking for so many years, so I was happy for him as well.
Later that afternoon, we purchased a sizable comic book collection for the shop.
In that collection…a copy of the very comic this customer had been seeking for so long.
After yesterday’s magnum opus, I think I’ll keep it short ‘n’ sweet today:
1. Pal Dorian has reported to me that he’s received several phone calls from people looking for Marvel Comics’ Logan’s Run #2 from 1977. Aside from being the only issue of Logan’s Run I owned as a kid, there’s nothing particularly special about this issue that makes it stand out. It’s drawn by George Perez, but so are most of the issues. It’s written by David Kraft, but again, so are most of ‘em.
Usually, when we’re asked for Logan’s Run, it’s for the issue with the Thanos back-up story. But #2? No idea. I wonder if this is another case of the Masters of the Universe situation I found myself in a few years back, where just by apparent coincidence, everyone started looking for the same oddball Marvel comic all at once.
2. For those of you patiently waiting for the long-delayed Wha-huh comic from Marvel, I can report that it’s finally turned up in the preview packs sent to retailers, so supposedly we can expect it on the shelves next week.
Well, both pal Dorian and I have read it, and, alas, it ain’t a patch on the original What If humor issue (#34, from 1982), or even the second less-funny all-humor What If issue (also #34, from 1992). The art by Jim Mahfood is nice, and the story “What if the Black Panther Was White” had some good jokes in it, but overall – eh. That Identity Crisis parody is just baffling, and if you manage to blow a parody of internet message boards, friend, you just aren’t trying.
3. I’m rapidly approaching post #1000 on my site, here…any suggestions as to what to do for that momentous occasion? (Aside from “retire,” that is.)
“Everyone knows that people who like comics are unsuccessful losers who die alone.”
Okay, perhaps I should provide some context to that.
Pal Dorian, Kid Chris, and I were discussing all the contentiousness out there on the Comicsweblogosphere, with controversies seemingly breaking out at the drop of a hat, and how I personally would just as soon not get mired in them. Who needs the hassle, you know? I’ve got enough real problems to worry about (like landscaping the backyard, getting the curtains up….). Though, sez I, I’m occasionally tempted to put something on my site specifically designed to honk people off. That’s when Kid Chris chimed in with the above bon mot as something I should put on the site to…encourage discussion, as it were. Please note he said this as he was holding a handful of comic books he was planning to buy for himself.
So, relax, he wasn’t being serious about it, and neither am I. (And he didn’t say it around any customers, either, so don’t worry about that.) Besides, if I really wanted to irritate people, I’d say something along the lines of “why are orders on Peng so low? Maybe retailers saw Sharknife.” (Only a joke, only a joke! We ordered Peng, and regularly reorder Sharknife…it’s not my thing, as I’ve noted before, but it does sell for us.)
So I was strangely obsessed with Midori Days
on Wednesday, a comic in which the right hand of the local tough kid is suddenly, magically replaced with…a cute girl. And not just any cute girl, but apparently a real girl who had a crush on our protagonist. This is one of those comics that makes me wonder just what the heck is going on over there in Japan. Man, they got some weird-ass ideas for comics…and good on them for it. (Though I wonder if this could be considered a romantic comedy version of Parasite
, in which a fellow’s hand (or whole arm?) is replaced with an alien being. Unless Parasite was
a romantic comedy, and I was just reading it wrong.)
The filing category noted on the back of the Arana paperback released by Marvel this week is “teen drama/superhero action,” so look for it near the sci-fi/role playing game books at your local big chain bookstore, kids!
On the cover of The Darkness Versus Mr. Hyde, the newest installment in the “Top Cow Characters Fight Public Domain Monsters” series, is the following quote from Paperback Reader: “It’s a crossover series that provides fun and adventure by combining the characters.” I guess the “fun” part counts as the positive review, as the rest of the quote is pretty much just defining what a “crossover” is. Granted, this is better than one of the review quotes they used in TV commercials for Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles: “Crocodile Dundee is back, and this time he’s in L.A.!” Yes, and…? I swear to God, that was the quote they used.
Teen Titans #27 by Gail Simone and Rob Liefeld – okay, gotta give them points for the self-aware cover blurb (“Come on – you know you want it!”), but, man, this is Liefeld at his Liefeldest, and while I love Simone’s deft touch with dialogue, I just couldn’t do it. And I wasn’t the only one…I saw a lot of customers struggling with indecision over it at the racks, and I had a couple of resigned sighs of “well, I’ve got the rest of them” as they made their decisions to purchase. I’ve said before that Liefeld can still sell X-books like crazy, but on anything else? Not as well, I’m afraid. (At first, I flipped open to a couple pages and thought “hey, this doesn’t look too bad,” and then I realized I was looking at the Bioncle ad.)
JSA Classified #2 – Power Girl explains to Superman why she has a big hole in her top exposing her cleavage. Still bound to tick someone off.
Spike: Old Times one-shot – Sold though all our copies on Wednesday. Okay, we didn’t order a lot (it’s seven and a half bucks, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer hadn’t been quite the hot comics commodity it used to be) but people like Spike, and they like Peter David, and they make a good combination on this book. The old fan speculation that Spike’s old crush was the same person as the vengeance demon he met over a century later (since they were played by the same actress on the TV show) is made explicit in this story. Likenesses are generally accurate throughout, courtesy artist Fernando Goni, though occasionally backgrounds suffer from a lack of detail. Still, a fun and quick read…not deep, but entertaining, with David’s signature touch of humor.
Little Lulu Vol. 5: Lulu in The Doghouse also came out this week…really, you need to buy this. It’s some of the most charming and funny cartooning you’ll ever read. And, to flog the dead (Dark) horse a little more, all the pages appear to be in order this time.
And now, what you’ve been waiting for…the End of Civilization, as revealed through the pages of the latest Diamond Previews
catalog. Follow along in your own copies, won’t you? (Previous entries in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6
p. 251 – Offered again, the Shi 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Naginata:
“Wield the most infamous weapon of Japanese Antiquity, and the choice of Billy Tucci’s Warrior Heroine Shi. This Limited 10th Anniversary Naginata comes with [sic] engraved with the Shi Kanji, numbers and is limited to 99 editions. Originating over 1,000 years ago and due to its massive height, it was most successful in battle against horsemen and swords. Stretching over 5 feet tall with a 20″ carbon steel blade with intense blood grooves and blade cover. Comes complete with wooden stand.”
p. 391 – Dungeons & Dragons for Dummies: chapters include “Worshipping Satan,” “Who Buys The Pizza,” and “Friday Nights Are Always Open.” (DISCLAIMER FOR THE SENSITIVE: I played D&D too…I joke with love, with love!)
Also p. 391 – Garfield’s Book of Cat Names: sure, go ahead and laugh, but I bet it outsells any given issue of Ultimate Spider-Man.
p. 393 – Family Guy: The Ultimate Episode Guide: includes a one-page chapter discussing the episodes that were actually funny.
(A BRIEF INTERRUPTION: Please note on page 405 and 406, in the “International” section, are two new Jim Woodring Frank items – a 48-page book called “Lute String” ($5.95) and a DVD of Frank animations ($24.95). Turn back the fall of civilization by buying these items.)
p. 412 – UDA Tiger Woods Breaking Through Framed Photo: “features a raised 12″ by 20″ image of Tiger Woods with an actual Nike golf ball ‘breaking through’ the Plexiglass….” Yes, it’s a photo with a golf ball glued to it. If any sports fans give any of you comic fans grief over the stuff you buy, feel free to bring up this item.
p. 436 – Barbie as Elektra.
BARBIE AS ELEKTRA.
BARBIE AS ELEKTRA.
Where’s your messiah now?
p. 444 – How is it that the two-dimensional face decal on the Faith figure from the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Palz” series has a better likeness of the actress than the three-dimensional Faith action figure?
p. 452 – Star Trek Riker & Worf core figures: “limited to one per case is the Lieutenant Thomas Riker figure,” which is the Riker figure with a yellow top instead of a red one. I explained to Dorian that Thomas was Riker’s transporter clone, and I literally stunned Dor speechless.
p. 454 – G.I. Joe Destro Mask Replica: 14 inches tall, made of metal, $350.00, and I swear, if I find out you bought this, I will find you and I will administer punishment.
p. 458 – 13-inch Man Thing statue…look, if I’m not going to buy this, then who is?
p. 486 – Zombie Outbreak Survival Kit for $14.95, includes “caution: zombie outbreak” warning tape, trading cards, signs, toe tags, a CD-ROM (with desktop themes and games), and other things that will make you wonder why you spent $14.95 on this.
p. 519 – Tripping the Rift Season One 2-Disc DVD Set: no one actually likes this show, do they?
p. 520 – Dungeons & Dragons 2: The Elemental Might DVD:
“When the evil sorcerer Damodar braves a perilous whirlwind vortex to steal the elemental black orb, he declares a sinister plan of vengeance against the kingdom of Ismir. Berek, a decorated warrior, and Melora, an amateur sorceress join four other heroes to battle against Damodar’s growing army of gruesome creatures and prevent him from summoning the sleeping black dragon whose omnipotent evil powers could lay waste to the entire kingdom!”
Based on the John Irving novel.
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a prize…and that prize is a Super Chicken fan site
. Thanks to The Comic Treadmill
for pointing it out!
It’s no fun to do the weblogging thing when you’re sick, especially if you’ve got a full day of work ahead of you as well. Feh, sez I.
However, I do want to make a mention of today’s new Boom Studios release What Were They Thinking?! — a comic where Keith Giffen and Mike Leib basically take some old war comics drawn by Wally Wood and rewrite them with humorous, irreverent dialogue. I’m not entirely sure if I’d want to read something like this on a regular basis, but, hey, it’s good for a laugh or two. Some of the humor is pretty crass and tasteless, but I like crass and tasteless, so that’s fine with me.
If you’re just interested in seeing some vintage Wally Wood art, I should note that the reproduction isn’t bad, considering they shot from the printed pages (yellowing borders and all). I wish more straight reprint books would do this…I really like how it looks, seeing the pages as they originally appeared all those years ago.
Another comic I want to mention (since I’ve been owing these good folks a review for like three weeks now) is Sara Ryan and Steve Leiber’s Flytrap Episode One: Juggling Act, a short comics digest introducing us to Maddy and her busy, complicated life…the “juggling act” of the title. Her boyfriend’s trying to make it in a band, her mom is badgering her on the phone, her office work is overwhelming, her car gets towed…it’s just one thing on top of another, and Ryan and Leiber do an excellent job conveying Maddy’s frustration and the hectic confusion of her day. This is basically an introductory chapter to an ongoing story, as Maddy is thrust out of her normal busy life into a surprising new direction. It’s only fourteen pages long, but it’s a packed fourteen pages, and it feels like it delivers more content than any standard-sized four color comic. I want to see what happens next, so everyone order a copy (only $2.00 domestic, including shipping…they take the PayPal) and give them incentive to keep producing.
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