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Phil Felix Archives | Comics Should Be Good @ CBR

1987 And All That: The ‘Nam #8

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.

Nam1The ‘Nam  #8 (Marvel) by Doug Murray, Michael Golden, John Beatty, Phil Felix

Marvel’s The ‘Nam was not a great series in 1987. The structural concept behind it is sound: each issue takes place one month after the last and focuses on either a specific real event or some broader aspect of life as an American solider in the Vietnam War. That’s actually a pretty cool approach to historical fiction, having a serialized story that moves forward in time at the same rate as its publication, telling standalone tales that come together to paint a larger and chronologically accurate picture of an entire conflict. Problem is, most of the stories told in this specific title—particularly in the way they’re told—just aren’t hard-hitting enough to leave a mark. Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: D.P. 7 #3-14

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.

CoverD.P. 7 #3-14 (Marvel) by Mark Greunwald, Paul Ryan, Romeo Tanghal, Al Williamson, Danny Bulanadi, Paul Becton, Phil Felix

Realism in superhero comics is an interesting struggle. Because there is an inherently fantastical element to any story involving people with impossible powers, finding a way to keep them grounded is not always an easy or obvious task. Typically, these are narratives about grown men and women who make up secret names for themselves and throw on outlandish, bright, skintight costumes every time there’s someone evil to punch. This is not exactly a genre that lends itself to a believable narrative.  And it’s not that every superhero story needs realism, but those that do strive for it often go the “grim and gritty” route, seeing brutality and depression as the only means of bringing their demigod-like characters back down to Earth. To keep things exciting and intense without always relying on larger-than-life, city-block-devastating action, creators will turn to the ugliest, darkest aspects of human nature and heighten them to superheroic levels. And certainly many great things have come from this strategy, but more and more often it feels like current creators are piling on the darkness without any rhyme or reason, and the results are just as unrealistic as anything, only bleaker and more violent. D.P. 7 offers a different approach, realistic not because of any darkness in tone but because of its pacing, telling its story in as close to real time as it can. At its best, this tactic makes the series better and smarter than your average comic book by far. But at its worst, it’s incredibly boring. As boring as real life. Continue Reading »

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 »

Year of the Artist, Day 313: Michael Golden, Part 4: The ‘Nam #3

EPSON MFP image

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 ‘Nam #3, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated February 1987. Enjoy!
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Trade paperbacks, older editions, and miscellaneous for July 2013

MarshalLawvol1 (2)

“Can you picture what will be / So limitless and free”
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Trade paperbacks, older editions, and miscellaneous for February AND March 2013

ChannelEvil (2)

Last month, I didn’t get a chance to finish all of these before I went to the convention in Seattle, and then I was busy when I got back. So this month, we get a double dose of trades and books I’ve read and such. That means this is really long, and I apologize for that!
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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 331: The ‘Nam #24

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from The ‘Nam #24, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated November 1988. Enjoy!
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