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John Costanza Archives - Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources

Trade paperbacks, older editions, and miscellaneous for July and August 2015

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I do these fairly haphazardly, don’t I? Oh well – that’s the way it is!
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1987 And All That: The Spectre #1-9

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.

Spectre1The Spectre #1-9 (DC) by Doug Moench, Gene Colan (#1-6), Cam Kennedy (#7-8), Gray Morrow (#9), Steve Mitchell (#1-6), Adrienne Roy (#1-6, 9), Michele Wolfman (#7-8), John Costanza (1-5), Agustin Mas (#6-9), Robert Greenberger

The Spectre is kind of a jerk, but that’s ok, because so is Jim Corrigan, the man who serves as the his human host. They’re jerky in different ways, which causes a lot of friction between them, and also makes them quite the entertaining pair to follow as a reader. Their relationship is kind of a mixed-up buddy cop thing; the Spectre is in some ways the loose cannon character, because Corrigan never knows what he’ll do next and can’t really trust him not to overreact to any given situation. Yet the Spectre is also the more serious of the pair, and all of his actions are motivated by the demands of a higher authority. Meanwhile, Corrigan is a wise-cracking rogue and anti-authority in general, yet wants to reign in the Spectre and stop him from always being so severe in his treatment of the various villains they face. So neither one of them fits neatly into a recognizable character mold, yet as a duo, they have a very familiar dynamic, one partner trying to keep the other in check as they work toward common goals with very different methods. And all the while, they are both largely unlikable as people, yet interesting as characters, and because they’re always fighting against much worse people than themselves, I’m on their side even when they’re being aggressively pigheaded and annoying. The Spectre does a fantastic job of making compelling figures out of its two miserable leads by pitting them against each other morally despite the fact that they are ostensibly on the same side. They’re both good guys, technically, but neither of them are necessarily all that good at being good. Instead, they make each other better, while simultaneously making one another feel worse, a conflicted team bound together against their wills who only barely make their partnership work. Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: Captain Atom #1-10

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.

CaptainAtom1Captain Atom #1-10 (DC) by Cary Bates, Greg Weisman (#10), Pat Broderick, Bob Smith, Carl Gafford (#1-4, 6-10), Bob LeRose (#5), John Costanza (#1-3), Agustin Mas (#4-5), Duncan Andrews (#6-10), Denny O’Neil

It’s not always an easy distinction to make, but there’s a difference between doing good and being good, and Captain Atom is all about skirting that line. The title character is a good man who does bad things for good reasons, and then uses those bad things to allow himself to do good things, too. After gaining his powers, he is coerced by the U.S. military into being a superhero, but I believe that he probably would’ve chosen that life (or something close to it) for himself anyway because of his core decency and sense of responsibility. He’s a good person doing good deeds, but doing them in an arguably bad way, lying to the world about his past and present in the name of protecting the less-good men who control his life. And there are consequences for his deceptions, sometimes serious ones, meaning that for all the positive work he does, there’s always a certain taint around him, a hidden shame he can never entirely shake. It makes him an extremely interesting character to follow, because even when he’s saving the day as a superhero, the reader understands that he’s still trapped as a soldier, following orders and keeping secrets he doesn’t always like. Captain Atom is a sad but also hopeful figure, improving his life and earning his freedom inch by difficult inch. Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: Booster Gold #13-22

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.

Booster1Booster Gold #13-22 (DC) by Dan Jurgens, Gary Martin (#13), Mike DeCarlo (#14, 18), Bruce D. Patterson (#15), Bob Lewis (#16), Arne Starr (#17, 20), Al Vey (#19), Ty Templeton (#21-22), Gene D’Angelo (#13-15, 17-22), Bob Lappan (#13, 17), John Costanza (#14, 18), Agustin Mas (#15), Albert de Guzman (#16), Duncan Andrews (#19), Steve Haynie (#20-22), Barbara Randall

Booster Gold is kind of a jackass. My previous exposure to the character had always been in the context of the Justice League, so I knew he was cocky, but the true depths of his self-importance surprised me when reading his solo title. Yes, I was aware of his origins as a former star athlete from the future who stole technology from his own time, brought it to our own, and used it to make himself into a superhero. None of that screams altruism, so I suppose I could’ve expected the brash, reckless, in-love-with-himself hero I got, but for whatever reason it caught me off-guard at first. I guess I had always assumed that since he was a professional superhero, he must have a strong core goodness that would trump his immaturity and arrogance when it mattered. In reality, his self-interest is his core, and any genuine goodness that results does so almost in spite of his personality. He likes the superhero lifestyle, but his enjoyment comes first from the thrill and then from the fame, with any satisfaction he gets from actually helping someone or fighting evil being largely incidental. He’s not a bad person; he has loose morals that guide him and the hint of a sincere desire to be better and do more. Yet all of that keeps getting overshadowed by his continued focus on maintaining his public image, getting rich, womanizing, and having fun. Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: Little Shop of Horrors

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.

LSoH_1Little Shop of Horrors (DC) by Michael Fleisher, Gene Colan, Dave Hunt, Anthony Tollin, John Costanza, Julius Schwartz

When examining an adaptation, in any medium, there are two obvious metrics to determine how good it is: 1. How true is it to the source material? and 2. How well does it justify its own existence, i.e. does it work as a standalone piece of entertainment, or is it merely a pale rehash of a story that was done better in its original form? Unfortunately for the Little Shop of Horrors comic, it doesn’t stack up in either area, failing to capture much of what makes the movie so good, and also ending up a subpar comicbook in its own right. It’s not unreadable, and there are a few things it does well, a handful of smart choices that pay off. On the whole, though, it’s boring, thin, and poorly paced, plus it fluctuates between remaining so true to the film that it reads awkwardly and straying so far from the film that it loses some of its core appeal.

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Comics You Should Own – Starman

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Hey, I’m back! With one of my all-time favorite series!
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Year of the Artist, Day 349: Frank Miller, Part 2 – Ronin #5

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Frank Miller, and the issue is Ronin #5, which was published by DC and is cover dated May 1984. These scans are from Absolute Ronin, which was published in 2008. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 340: Howard Chaykin, Part 3 – Star Wars #8 and Cody Starbuck

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Howard Chaykin, and the issues are Star Wars #8 and Cody Starbuck, the first of which was published by Marvel and is cover dated February 1977 and the second of which was published by Star*Reach Productions and is cover dated July 1978. Enjoy!
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1987 And All That: Blue Beetle #8-19

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.

BlueBeetle1Blue Beetle #8-19 (DC) by Len Wein, Joey Cavalieri (#12), R.J.M. Lofficer (#14-15, 17-19), Paris Cullins (#8-9, 11-14, 17-18), Chuck Patton (#10), Ross Andru (#15-16, 19), Dell Barras (#8-15), Danny Bulanadi (#16-17, 19), Carl Gafford (#8), Gene D’Angelo (#9-19), John Costanza, Karen Berger (#8-13), Denny O’Neil (#14-19)

To be a superhero requires a certain amount of optimism. It’s not just about having power, but also about believing that you can use that power to make an actual difference. It’s about picking the good side in the never-ending good-vs.-evil conflict that rages within and around us all, and convincing yourself and the world that you’re contributing something, that you’re genuinely helping your side win in the short- and/or long-term. I suppose this requires some level of ego/arrogance, too, and probably more than a little delusion. The titular star of Blue Beetle certainly possesses both of those traits, but it is the aforementioned optimism that shines through most brightly with that character and the series as a whole. Ted Kord earnestly, enthusiastically does good for it’s own sake, and seems to find that it is it’s own reward, too. His life is full of other rewards— money, status, romance, an entire corporation to run—but his superheroics are what take precedence and usurp most of his time, because that’s what most interests and satisfies him. It even, at times, gets in the way of his other obligations, but ultimately Kord chooses over and over to put his Blue Beetle activities first since he thinks of them as the most important, valuable work he does. Continue Reading »

Year of the Artist, Day 311: Michael Golden, Part 2: The Micronauts #7

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Michael Golden, and the issue is The Micronauts #7, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 1979. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 305: Mark Texeira, Part 1 – Ghosts #108 and The Warlord #58

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Mark Texeira, and the issues are Ghosts #108 and The Warlord #58, both of which were published by DC and are cover dated January and June 1982, respectively. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 294: Lee Moder, Part 1 – Wonder Woman #73

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Lee Moder, and the issue is Wonder Woman #73, which was published by DC and is cover dated April 1993. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 237: Steve Mannion, Part 1 – Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #10

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Steve Mannion, and the issue is Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #10, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated June 1999. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 229: Norm Breyfogle, Part 3 – So much BATMAN!!!!

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Norm Breyfogle, and the issues are … well, there’s just so much Batman, I actually separated the post into four parts, just like Our Dread Lord and Master does with Comic Book Legends! Up first: Detective Comics #607, which was published by DC and is cover dated October 1989. Enjoy all the comics!
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