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Janice Chiang Archives - Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources

1987 And All That: Fantastic Four #304-307

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

FF11987 And All That: Fantastic Four #304-307  (Marvel) by Steve Englehart, John Buscema, Joe Sinnott, Glynis Oliver (#304-306), George Roussos (#307), Phil Felix (#304), Janice Chiang (#305), John Workman (#306-307), Don Daley (#304), Ralph Macchio (#305-307)

There are two core components to the Fantastic Four: 1. awesome sci-fi superhero excitement, and 2. familial relationships and the drama that comes with them. Every creative team strikes their own balance between these elements, and I’m not here to say one blend is better than any other. I will say that these four issues, the first in a long run written by Steve Englehart, definitely focus hard on the interpersonal stuff (though there’s a healthy dose of action in each issue, too), and the results are great. Almost every character we see, whether they’re part of the titular team or not, has a lot on their respective plates, everyone carrying heavy personal baggage that informs what they do and how they act in interesting ways. There are villains with pathos, heroes who sometimes act like childish jerks, and many characters who seem as though they might break down completely at any second, adding a nice underlying tension to everything else that goes on. All of this is heightened by John Buscema’s expressive artwork, which delivers moments of quiet, brooding reflection with just as much oomph as the most hard-hitting action, and nails everything in between as well. Though these issues are not at all flawless, they’re consistently entertaining, they’re not afraid to make big, bold moves, and they shake up this title effectively and efficiently, which seems to be their primary goal. And they’re a nice reminder that we are all many different thing, that each and every one of us has our own inner turmoils and conflicts to wrestle with, and that these kinds of things don’t necessarily ever resolve for good so much as they grow and change and become more complicated over time. Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: Iron Man #219-221

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

Ghost1Iron Man #219-221 (Marvel) by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, Mark D. Bright (#220-221), Bob Sharen, Janice Chiang, Mark Gruenwald

A good villain should do two things: 1. Work as a compelling character in their own right, someone the audience is interested in regardless of circumstance, and 2. Jive with the hero within the specific context of their shared story. Judged by these two metrics, Iron Man #219-221 is a tremendous triumph, introducing readers to the Ghost, a supervillain whose concept is simultaneously so strong and so simple that he works as a character despite (or because of) a total lack of background details or origin story. We don’t need to know exactly where he comes from to understand his motivations and the danger he represents, and he’s a perfect foe for Iron Man because of both his power set and his ultimate goals. It’s always nice to come to the end of a story and feel fully gratified by it while still somehow wanting more, and that’s exactly what this Iron Man arc delivers. There are no glaring loose ends when the narrative concludes, but there are plenty of open doors and unanswered questions, so that it feels complete but also like it’s the start of something bigger (which, of course, it is, insofar as the Ghost has made numerous appearances throughout the Marvel Universe in the decades since this initial storyline was published). Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: Strange Tales #1-7

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born.

StrangeTales_1Strange Tales #1-7 (Marvel) by Bill Mantlo (#1-6), Peter Gillis, Bret Blevins (#1-6), Chris Warner (#1-4), Larry Alexander (#5, 7), Terry Shoemaker (#6-7), Al Williamson (#3), Bob Wiacek (#6), Gerry Talaoc (#7), Randy Emberlin, Christie Scheele (#1, 3), Glynis Oliver (#2, 4-6), Paul Becton (#7), Bob Sharen, Ken Bruzenak, Jim Novak (#1-3), Janice Chiang (#4-5, 7), Ken Lopez (#6), Carl Potts

With a book like Strange Tales, where every issue is divided between two different narratives (or any number of narratives, but in this case it’s just the two), you always want some sort of connection to tie the stories together, something to bring unity to the title. Obviously the stories should work individually as well, but it’s nicer when there’s a bond between them, an identity to the series as a whole that fits with each section’s own goals and attitudes. Strange Tales is split evenly every issue between Cloak and Dagger and Dr. Strange, the two titles which it replaced. Because they’re both continuations of previously existing comics, it would be understandable if there wasn’t a ton of cohesion between their respective outlooks or aims. Whether through editorial design, creator collaboration, or sheer dumb luck, though, the two halves of Strange Tales find common ground almost immediately, and continue to examine the same core concept, though still in their own ways, right up through issue #7 where their narratives actually collide and briefly become the same. Both Cloak and Strange wrestle with remaining heroic while sometimes needing to act unheroically, and this struggle quickly becomes the center of Strange Tales. But the two men deal with their shared problem differently and end up in different places because of it, so their stories stand apart even as they come together, thematically and literally. Continue Reading »

Year of the Artist, Day 232: Jim Lee, Part 1 – Alpha Flight #53

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Jim Lee, and the issue is Alpha Flight #53, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated December 1987. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 192: Rob Liefeld, Part 1 – Secret Origins #28 and Hawk and Dove #1

hawkanddove8008 (2)

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Rob Liefeld, and the first story is “A Princess’ Story” in Secret Origins #28 and the issue is Hawk and Dove #1, both of which were published by DC, the first cover dated July 1988 and the second cover dated October 1988. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 75: Kelley Jones, Part 2 – The Micronauts: The New Voyages #14

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Kelley Jones, and the issue is The Micronauts: The New Voyages #14, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated November 1985. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 74: Kelley Jones, Part 1 – The Micronauts: The New Voyages #1

02-17-2014 09;07;59AM (2)

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Kelley Jones, and the issue is The Micronauts: The New Voyages #1, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated October 1984. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 42: Kevin Nowlan, Part 2 – Moon Knight #32

12-29-2013 11;43;57AM (2)

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Kevin Nowlan, and the issue is Moon Knight #32, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 1983. Enjoy!
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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 336: Dazzler #35

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. As it’s now December, I will be examining the LAST pages of random comics, so watch out for SPOILERS! Today’s page is from Dazzler #35, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated January 1985. Enjoy!
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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 286: Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #15

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be showing pages that are either scary or are part of “scary” issues (as scary as a comic can be, of course), because it’s October! Today’s page is from Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #15, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated March 1990. Enjoy!
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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 147: Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #67

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Firestorm #67, which was published by DC and is cover dated January 1988. Enjoy!
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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 132: Strikeforce: Morituri #10

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Strikeforce: Morituri #10, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated September 1987. Enjoy!
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Comics You Should Own – Moon Knight (volume 1)

This couldn’t have anything to do with a certain B. Sienkiewicz, could it?
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