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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 252: Stuart Immonen, Part 1 – Legion of Super-Heroes #53 and a few added bonuses

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Stuart Immonen, and the issue is Legion of Super-Heroes #53, which was published by DC and is cover dated January 1994, plus I begin with a few panels from X-Men Annual #1, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated March 1992. Enjoy!
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Flippin’ through Previews – September 2014

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Because why wouldn’t IDW cross over the Transformers with Angry Birds? Previews #312 shows just how logical that is!!!!
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Year of the Artist, Day 241: Steve Mannion, Part 5 – Painkiller Jane: The 22 Brides #1

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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 story is “Monsters” in Painkiller Jane: The 22 Brides #1, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated May 2014. Enjoy! (Oh, and I hate that I have to do this, but there’s some Not Safe For Work stuff below. And no, it’s not horrific violence, because that’s a-okay!)
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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 234: Jim Lee, Part 3 – Uncanny X-Men #275 plus some added bonuses

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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 The Uncanny X-Men #275, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated April 1991. However, I’m also taking a look at “Brigg’s Revenge” in Classic X-Men #39, which is cover dated November 1989, Uncanny X-Men #269, which is cover dated October 1990, and even one special tidbit from issue #268! Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 233: Jim Lee, Part 2 – The Punisher War Journal #2

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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 The Punisher War Journal #2, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated December 1988. Enjoy!
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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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What I bought – SDCC edition (plus some other more-or-less random comics and observations)

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Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive. (C. S. Lewis)
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Year of the Artist, Day 230: Norm Breyfogle, Part 4 – Hellcat #2

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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 issue is Hellcat #2, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated October 2000. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 227: Norm Breyfogle, Part 1 – New Talent Showcase #11 and Marvel Fanfare #29

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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 stories are “Pacer” in New Talent Showcase #11 and “Story” in Marvel Fanfare #29, the first of which was published by DC and is cover dated November 1984 and the second of which was published by Marvel and is cover dated November 1986. Enjoy!
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1987 And All That: Fallen Angels #1-8

FallenAngels1Fallen Angels #1-8 (Marvel) by Jo Duffy, Kerry Gammill (#1-2, 4, 7), Marie Severin (#3), Joe Staton (#5-6, 8), Tom Palmer (#1-3, 7), Val Mayerik (#4-6), Tony DeZuniga (#8), Petra Scotese, Jim Novak (#1-2), Bill Oakley (#3, 5-8), L.P. Gregory (#4), and Ann Nocenti

As a story about a group of misfit superpowered kids, it’s appropriate that Fallen Angels would be something of a misfit superhero series, too. It’s not at all a bad comic, but it doesn’t look, feel, or move like your typical cape-and-cowl adventure. Its cast is cobbled together from characters old and new, popular (at the time, at least) and obscure, and the characters are constantly butting heads with one another. This internal conflict leaves little room for external enemies, so there aren’t really any villains for the stars to face until the last couple issues. There also aren’t a lot of codenames or costumes used; even Sunspot, the protagonist and narrator, is referred to by his real name, Roberto “Bobby” da Costa, more often than not. It’s a non-traditional team with mixed morals and motives, not fighting for good or evil but merely sticking together for the sake of survival and some semblance of friendship/family. Fallen Angels is a coming-of-age story for the entire titular team, and it is more interested in studying human behavior than the high-powered violence of the average superhero tale. In this story, being a teenager comes first, and having powers comes second, an interesting and unusual prioritization that makes for an entertaining if not astonishing read. Continue Reading »

Year of the Artist, Day 219: Bill Sienkiewicz, Part 3 – Elektra: Assassin #1 and 8

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Bill Sienkiewicz, and the issues are Elektra: Assassin #1 and 8, which were published by Marvel and are cover dated August 1986 and March 1987. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 218: Bill Sienkiewicz, Part 2 – Moon Knight #23

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Bill Sienkiewicz, and the issue is Moon Knight #23 (with some context provided by issue #20), which was published by Marvel and is cover dated September 1982. Enjoy!
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