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Scott's Classic Comics Corner: Let's Peer at Marvel Premiere (pt. 2)

Continuing from yesterday's entry - here's more of the high and lows of Marvel Premiere:

Jumping ahead to issue #43, we find Paladin, the rather intriguing mercenary who first popped up in Daredevil. I was re-reading this book not too long ago, having skipped the credits page and it didn't take me long to realize that it was written by Don McGregor, the archenemy of the typewriter. Ugh, what a wordy mess! Now, I normally loooooove Tom Sutton's artwork, but it just doesn't work here. Perhaps it's the color job or just the shoddy production, but everything gets blurred together and it's extremely difficult to follow. In the right hands, this could have worked out as a decent story. As it stands, I can only recommend that you avoid it at all costs.

If I've been sounding a bit negative in discussing the last few issues, get ready for a change of tone because I totally love the Scott Lang Ant-Man that pops up here for a couple of issues. These are two fine, fine issues written by one of my all-time favourites, Dave Michelinie. I met Dave last year, but got so wrapped up in telling him how much I loved his Unknown Soldier that I forgot to mention that I loved how he brought back Ant-Man. These issues also feature absolutely beautiful artwork by Byrne and Layton. This is very good stuff - compelling storytelling and imaginative art. It's definitely some of the best comics of this whole series.

Skipping ahead to the three issue Black Panther arc, Ed Hannigan tried to tie up the loose ends from Don McGregor's KKK storyline in Jungle Action, all but ignoring all of the craziness (and I mean that in a good way) that we saw in the Kirby series. Hannigan does a pretty good job but, much like McGregor, his scripts are far too wordy. It can be exhausting trying to trudge through some of the dialogue, but the overall concepts are good and it's a shame that the execution wasn't better. I feel much the same about Jerry Bingham's pencils - sometimes they look ok, but other times they look like they are straight out of 1981 issue of Charlton Bullseye (and I don't mean that in a good way). One of these issues has a great letter from Jim Oswley (Christopher Priest) commenting on the portrayal of Harlem and black stereotypes in the Falcon issues. That's the kind of stuff you miss in trades.

Gene Day absolutely rocks in the Caleb Hammer issue, with help from Tony DeZ. The first new western character introduce at Marvel in a decade. He's rough and tumble Pinkerton agent with a tragic past who resembles Clint Eastwood even more than Jonah Hex. There's not all that much new here, but it is a wonderfully delivered western story and a nice change from the revolving door of second stringers. It's quite incredible how much background is crammed in here without really interfering with the action. It's truly too bad that westerns had fallen out of favor as I really think that Peter Gillis and Gene Day were onto something here.

We talked a lot about Howard Chaykin creations and artwork in the earlier issues, and he now returns with Dominic Fortune. Fortune is a character who, for all intents and purposes originated at Atlas-Seaboard as the Scorpion. He's a fun old school adventurer who first joined the Marvel Universe in the mid-70s with infrequent appearances. This is a very, very fun issue with Chaykin's layouts beautifully finished by Terry Austin. What a treat it is to see Austin's work in all its glory. For those of you who've met him, you know that Terry Austin is just about the nicest guy you'll ever meet. This is a superb single issue story - keep an eye out for it.

Finally, I'm going to leave you with Doctor Who. Aside from catching the occasional episode on the Buffalo PBS station back in the early 80s, I have next to no background with the good Doctor. These four books, which reprint the UK weeklies, are a lot of fun but the real treat is to gaze at Dave Gibbons' beautiful artwork. As an added bonus, there is some new, US material by Dave Cockrum and Walt Simonson. Every time I see Cockrum artwork these days, I kick myself for not fully recognizing how awesome he was while he was alive. For some reason, one of these books throws in a Werewolf By Night story - I love those oddities. I'd imagine that these are a must have for any Doctor Who fanatic.

So that's a look at Marvel Premiere. I haven't hit them all, but this should give you a taste of what to expect. These books are permanent residents of dollar bins around the world, so you can cherry pick the best of the lot without taking much of a financial hit.

For more classic comic talk - visit my blog Seduction of the Indifferent

If you have any questions or comments - don't hesitate dropping me a line at scottshouldbegood at yahoo.ca.

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