How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
That cloud of falling golden hair, that vivacious green, those trembling shadows, that shy, delighted, self-surprised face … if her God was watching, He must have wished Himself the Fallen One that night. (John Fowles, from The French Lieutenant’s Woman)
Batman ’66 #8 (“King Tut Barges In”/”Showdown with Shame!”) by Wes Abbott (letterer), Lee Loughridge (colorist), Jeff Parker (writer), Rubén Procopio (artist/colorist, “Showdown”), Aniz Ansari (assistant editor), and Jim Chadwick (editor). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC. Batman created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Robin created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and Bob Kane. Chief O’Hara created by Edmond Hamilton. I can’t find out who created King Tut and Shame.
I know this is just a silly story, but the King Tut tale which takes up the bulk of this issue bugged me, in the same way Guy Gardner’s personality changes over the years have bugged me. King Tut changes personalities when he bangs his head? He goes from a professor of Egyptology to a reincarnation of Tutankhamen by getting bonked on the noggin? Nobody thinks to give him a CT scan? They think a personality change due to a brain injury means he has to be sent to an insane asylum? As King Tut points out early in the story, he hasn’t committed any crime, and he’s only really breaking and entering during this story – you could make a case for attempted murder of Batman and Robin, but a good lawyer will get that thrown out of court. So why does everyone treat him like a criminal? I assume the Arkham Asylum of the Batman ’66 universe is a lot nicer than the “real” one, but it still seems awfully cruel to send a man who has a brain injury to an insane asylum. I’m joking to a degree, but still. I mean, I still get upset that the other Wiggles never seemed to care that Jeff has narcolepsy and it could be an indicator of something seriously wrong with him. Get the man some medical help, people! (Jeff is no longer a Wiggle, so maybe he’s getting the help he desperately needs.)
Procopio’s work is good on the first story but wonderful on the second, in which Cliff Robertson holds up a train. Procopio colors his own work, and it’s all watercolors, which is really nice. It gives the story a real Western feel – the backgrounds are generally warm colors, which suggests the desert, and the fact that Procopio paints quite a bit without using pencil lines makes this a bit more dream-like, giving it a sheen of nostalgia, which is part of Shame’s schtick. It ties the art into the theme of the story a bit, which is pretty keen.
Batman ’66 continues to be a fine comic book. I don’t know how long Parker plans to write it, but it’s working out really well for him!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Dark Horse Presents #33. “Cruel Biology Part 1 of 4″ by Brian Churilla (artist), Christopher Sebela (writer), and Dave Stewart (colorist); “Integer City Chapter 4: Power in the Blood” by Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist), Crank! (letterer), Jamie S. Rich (writer), and Brent Schoonover (artist); “The Deleted Chapter 2″ by Darrin Grimwood (writer), Brandon McCarthy (writer/artist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “Mister X: Frozen Assets Chapter 1″ by Dean Motter (writer/artist); “Nexus: Into the Past Chapter 8″ by Mike Baron (writer), The Dude (artist/letterer), and Glenn Whitmore (colorist); “Mr. Monster vs. the Brain Bats of Venus! Chapter 1″ by Michael T. Gilbert (writer/artist/colorist) and Ken Bruzenak (letterer); “Crime Does Not Pay: City of Roses Chapter 12″ by Bill Farmer (colorist), Nate Piekos (letterer), Patric Reynolds (artist), and Phil Stanford (writer); “Saint George: Dragonslayer Chapter 4″ by Reilly Brown (story/artist), Jeremy Colwell (colorist), Dave Lanphear (letterer), and Fred van Lente (story/writer); “The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne: The Library in the Body Chapter 2″ by Rich Johnston (writer), Simon Rohrmüller (artist), and Jim Reddington (letterer); “Kill Me! Chapter 3″ by Chad Lambert (writer), Christine Larsen (artist), and Jaymes Reed (letterer); Brendan Wright (contributing editor), Dave Marshall (contributing editor), Scott Allie (contributing editor), Daniel Chabon (contributing editor), Jim Gibbons (associate editor) and Mike Richardson (editor). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.
Thoughts about the thirty-third issue of Dark Horse Presents …
* I don’t know if that cover is supposed to be in reference to anything inside. Maybe the first story, although nothing really happens like that. It’s not a bad cover, but it’s a bit puzzling.
* Brian Churilla is drawing a monster story, which is always a good thing. His figures seem slightly less cartoonish than they’ve been in the past. Is this because he’s changing his style a bit, or is the influence of Stewart’s colors? I don’t know.
* I like “Integer City,” but the private investigator – Jonny Kilmeister – makes the mistake these kinds of characters always make with regard to their client and the person the client wants them to find, and it’s a bit disappointing. Still, it’s a decent chapter.
* Grimwood and McCarthy explain what’s going on in their story. I still don’t love the art, but I wonder if McCarthy is doing it deliberately to reflect what exactly is going on. Maybe?
* I’ve never been in love with Dean Motter’s writing, but he knows how to put a story together, including ending things on a nice cliffhanger.
* The Dude is brilliant, as usual, and Baron is still really weird. He does bring things to a head, though, as next issue is the conclusion to this particular story, but he’s still a weird writer.
* The “Brain Bats” in the Mr. Monster story are credited to Basil Wolverton. That’s great and all, but are squid-like vampire aliens really so unique that they have just one creator?
* I never loved “City of Roses,” although it might read better in one sitting. The final chapter is kind of limp, though – Stanford wraps things up really quickly, I felt. Again, it probably works better as a complete story.
* I’m curious how much big a role George’s Christianity will play in later chapters of “Saint George: Dragonslayer” (this arc finishes in this issue, but it’s implied that there’s more to come). I think Brown and van Lente are doing a good job with it so far, and I’m interested to see where they go with it.
* Someone is finally ready to spill the beans about Miss Cranbourne! That should be fun!
* “Kill Me!” comes to a fairly satisfying ending, although it does feel a bit rushed. Maybe one more chapter would have made it feel more complete?
As usual, it’s an entertaining read. DHP is worth a read every time out, even if not all the stories are great!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
This is a pretty good issue of Morning Glories, as Akiko, in a coma, wanders through events in her life and sees things from a different perspective. Spencer keeps adding layers onto what we know, and as usual, it’s fun to see how he’s building this title even though it remains frustrating. It’s such a giant puzzle that not even the annotations at the end of each issue are enough. I’ve gotten over my objections to them, because they’re just fun, but I just don’t feel like dragging out every issue every month to re-read them. So I’m in the bag for Morning Glories, but if Spencer is going to simply add puzzle pieces for a while before blowing shit up again, I don’t have much to say.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
I decided to check this comic out because the preview art in Previews looked pretty good, and it’s pretty good in the actual comic, too! Trakhanov kind of has a Nathan Fox/Paul Pope thing going on, and it looks quite nice. He’s very detailed, and his use of blacks matches the somewhat dark tone of the comic, the fact that a good amount of it takes place underwater and therefore away from the sun, and the roughness of the characters’ faces and clothing/armor. There are some really nice battle scenes early in the book, and Trakhanov shifts well from the chaos of that to the quieter moments in the book. He also creates a very strange world in which these characters live – the book takes place during the time of very early humans, so technology is contrasted well with the primitive nature of the world. The colors are amazing, too. His choices are very strong – the early scenes, which are underwater, are full of beautiful greens and blues, and when the characters go up on land, we get amazing warm reds and oranges and yellows in the sky and duller greens on the plains, contrasting once again with the still cooler colors of the Atlanteans. There are some utterly gorgeous panels in this book, bringing together the nice line work and the wonderful colors.
The story involves Atlanteans, as our point-of-view character, Ukinnu, is narrating about his circumstances in the beginning of the book – his life of privilege has been laid out for him. He joined the army to fight the legendary terrorist, Redum Anshargal, who of course turns out to be not a bad dude. He offers Ukinnu a chance to join him, and Ukinnu jumps at it. Redum is a freedom fighter, but he’s also trying to figure out how to make the Atlanteans breathe air. Besides the setting – early in humanity’s history – the story is familiar. The young, stifled boy/man escapes his oppressive life; a terrorist turns out to be a freedom fighter; the idealistic main character thinks he can change the society he left, but the grizzled old veteran knows it’s impossible; complications ensue. There’s nothing terribly wrong with it, especially because, as with most stories, it’s all about how you tell it, and Orlando at least has taken this story and put a weird and interesting spin on it. He has some extra pages, so after the first rush of violence, he spends quite a while explaining things, which slows the book down a bit, but he ends it on a pretty cool note. So I’m cautiously optimistic about the story.
Right at this moment, the reason to get the book is the artwork, with the story promising a bit more than it delivers. But that’s the great thing about serial fiction – there’s always room to improve as you go forward!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
“Collider” volume 1: The Paradigm Shift by Jared K. Fletcher (letterer), Simon Oliver (writer), Rico Renzi (colorist), Robbi Rodriguez (artist), Steve Wands (letterer), and Robin Wildman (editor). $9.99, 141 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.
Naming things is really hard, in case you didn’t know. Occasionally a title will just leap right out, but it’s not always easy. So when Collider – which is not bad – changed into Federal Bureau of Physics – which is as dull as dishwater – it was kind of a bummer. I wonder if the book’s sales have suffered at all because of the name change.
Ultimate Comics X-Men by Brian Wood volume 3 by John Lucas (inker), Alvaro Martinez (penciler), Joe Sabino (letterer), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Brian Wood (writer), Alex Starbuck (assistant editor), Nelson Ribeiro (assistant editor), and Jennifer Grünwald (editor). $17.99, 100 pgs, FC, Marvel.
DC can somehow charge 10 bucks for 141 pages, while Marvel charges 18 dollars for 100 pages. As always, I’m extremely curious how these companies decide how to price things.
Wally Wood: Strange Worlds of Science Fiction by Wallace Wood (come on now!) and others; J. David Spurlock (editor). $24.95, 216 pgs, FC, Vanguard Publishing.
More Wood comics! I’m still woefully behind on Wood’s work, but such is life. I’m looking forward to reading this!
Well, that was a small week, wasn’t it? I apologize if it was boring – I don’t try to buy only 4 comics, it’s just the way it works! I fear that many people aren’t that interested in my reviews anymore, because I read so few of the “big-time” comics – even the DC and Marvel books I do read aren’t the big ones. But I like writing them for now, so you’re stuck with them! Deal with it!
So you guys might not know this, but we had a fancy upgrade behind the scenes here at the blog. The screens look different, although nothing has changed too much. We did get the red squiggly lines back underneath words that are spelled incorrectly – they went away for a while, and I missed them. I’m pretty good at finding words that are misspelled, but it’s still handy to have a guide. They’re very comforting. Upgrades to the blog are always neat, even if you don’t see them in the published version.
Our very own Greg Hatcher linked to this story on Facebook. Wouldn’t it be nice if Marvel did the right thing and gave Bill Mantlo just a fraction of the gross from the movie? I mean, how hard would it be, and they’d look like heroes. Of course, that would imply that a giant corporation isn’t absolutely tone deaf.
In happier news, you can go pick up Becky Cloonan’s trilogy mini-comics in a fancy hardcover. I wanted to get these, but I’m still not in love with buying digital comics (hence my avoidance of The Private Eye), but I’m more than happy to throw down some coin on a fancy hardcover!
I’d promote Kelly Thompson’s Storykiller Kickstarter, but she’s already shattered pretty much every goal and it’s almost over anyway. Instead, I’ll point you to Ken Krekeler’s Westward #7 Kickstarter. As you might recall, I’ve been a big fan of Westward since issue #1, and Krekeler’s work even before that, and I hope he’s going to be able to finish the entire epic soon. This one has a lot more time before it finishes, so check it out. In case you’ve missed it, I’ve reviewed some issues: #1, #2, #4, and #6. Issue #7 is in the latest issue of Previews, in case you want to order it without backing the Kickstarter.
I’ve been dealing with some real-world issues with weird parents at my daughter’s school. Parents can be bizarre, people. My other daughter got a fancy back brace to help arrest her scoliosis. She’s had it for some years, but it never was too bad that she needed to get a brace. It finally reached a point where her orthotic surgeon decided that, yeah, it’s probably good for her to get one. Her Cobb angle is 45°, which I guess isn’t great. She actually doesn’t mind the brace – it’s tight, but not too confining, and her teachers love it, because it keeps her upright. She likes to slump a lot, so this is helpful.
I got nothing else. Sorry! Let’s check out the Ten Most Recent Songs on My iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle):
1. “Cool the Engines” – Boston (1986) “Take me where I’ve never been, someplace I can stay”
2. “The Devil Is Singing Our Song” – The James Gang (1973) “Every time I see you it costs me another heartache”
3. “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” – Styx (1977) “How can you be such an angry young man when your future looks quite bright to me”
4. “Anytime” – Journey (1978) “Listen to me and enlighten me, I hope that you need me too”
5. “Whyyawannabringmedown” – Kelly Clarkson (2009) “Don’t blink ’cause I won’t be around”1
6. “You Cause As Much Sorrow” – Sinéad O’Connor (1990) “It’s too late for prevention but I don’t think it’s too late for the cure”
7. “Magic” – Olivia Newton-John (1980) “From where I stand, you are home free”2
8. “Industrial Disease” – Dire Straits (1982) “On ITV and BBC they talk about the curse, philosophy is useless, theology is worse, history boils over there’s an economics freeze”
9. “Hard Times” – John Legend and the Roots featuring Black Thought (2010) “So I play the part I feel they want of me and I pull the shades so I won’t see them seein’ me”
10. “99 Red Balloons – 7 Seconds (1985) “This is what we’ve waited for, this is it boys, this is war”
1 You bet!
2 You’re goddamned right! Sing along, everyone!
Man, that was a lot of classic rock there, wasn’t it? It’s weird how that happens. Such is the life of the shuffle mode!
I know everyone in Arizona is rubbing it in the faces of the rest of the country because of the very nice weather we’ve been having here – it’s been in the high 70s/low 80s all week – but we are in the middle of a worse drought than we’re usually in. It hasn’t rained in the Basin for almost 2 months, and I’m sure the Southwest is going to run out of water and we’ll all turn into extras from The Road Warrior sooner rather than later. So it’s not all groovy here. I still hope everyone who’s dealing with the deep freeze is okay, though!
Have a nice day, everyone!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.