HAPPY VALENTINES DAY
I will be spending the day in New York City at Yet Another Big Apple Con. Couple that with the impending arrival of my new computer, and it spells precious little time free. So please forgive me this column this week.
I'm compiling a couple of the reviews I've put together in the past month for Jonah Weiland's Comic Book Resources:
These two reviews are of comics from the past. Maybe it'll spark some memories, or just open your eyes to what you missed the first time.
I'll be back next week with the usual column, assuming the new computer doesn't ruin me. =)
The Adventures of Superman #431
"They Call Him-- Doctor Stratos"
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Erik Larsen
Inks: India Inc.
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Colors: Anthony Tollin
Editors: Mike Carlin and Andy Helfer
Remember when the Superman titles were easy to follow, fun to read, and a pleasure to be a fan of? This harkens back to those days, as Superman confronts a madman who can control the weather.
The story is rather simple and feels almost padded out. The weather starts to go bezerk and Superman takes too long to figure it out. Eventually he does and goes after the villain, who attacks Supes with various weather patterns both directly and indirectly. Did I mention the weather controller also thinks he's descended from Mount Olympus? Sounds like a cross between Maxie Zeus and Weather Wizard, doesn't it?
But it's pretty straight-forward stuff with some nice eye candy panels. This issue isn't overrun with splash pages or anything. It's just that an extremely young Erik Larsen gets the chance here to draw Superman in action in various locales in various conditions. It's a nice piece to add to your portfolio when you're an "up-and-coming" artist. You can see clearly that it's Larsen at the board here, even through the 9 differentinkers they used in this issue working over him -- everyone from P. Craig Russell and Bill Wray to Dick Giordano and Karl Kesel. I say that because there is other work from Larsen at this time period (in books such as Secret Files) where it's very difficult to tell it's his handiwork through the inker.
It's a done-in-one style story with the prerequisite soap opera-like subplots running through it which used to make the Superman books so much fun to read. (Just to date the story a little more, the subplot here has to do with Lois Lane's jealousy over Clark Kent dating Cat Grant. My, how times change. . . )
So if you catch this one in the back issue bin at a local comics show like I did, pick it up. It's worth a read. If you're an Erik Larsen fan, then it's definitely worth your attention.
The Heckler #4
"Let 'Em Make Up Their OWN Stupid Title!"
Plots and Pecils: Keith Giffen
Script: Tom and Mary Bierbaum
Inks: Bob Lewis
Letters: Bob Pinaha
Colors: Tom McCraw
Editor: Kevin Dooley
I don't know where I was when this series first came out more than 6 years ago. It's probably because I hadn't read the complete Freak Force (from Image Comics) or Justice League (from DC) series, and so wasn't a half-drooling Keith Giffen fanboy just yet.
The Heckler is like either of those series, but without any attempt to make a stable and cohesive super-hero continuity or storyline. The Heckler jumps all over the place, and while a story is miraculously told when all is said and done, it's pure chaos.
In this issue, The Heckler decides to go out on night patrol for the first time in his career. He's completely oblivious to everything happening around him, as ace hitman Bushwack'r attempts to take him out. Bushwack'r is pulling the rough equivalent of Wile E. Coyote trying to capture the Hitman's Road Runner. Everything he tries backfires on him, hilariously-so. As such, the story works almost as a series of black-out gags, with some oddball hilarity completely divergent from the plot working its way into any pages The Heckler is on. (His pass through Deja Vu Drive results in every panel of the page happening twice. Not exactly high comedy, but it'll make you laugh.)
Keith Giffen draws it in his standard 9 panel grid, which still works wonderfully well. It also allows him to pack in more background material and silly stuff along the way. The book is so silly than even the letters column is a gag, although a thoughtful one.
So if you're looking for something that should just make you laugh, without any of the rest of the DC Universe showing up, look for back issues of The Heckler in your local bins. They're well worth the effort.
[Special thanks to Joe Torcivia for pointing the way to The Heckler for me.]