"U.S.Avengers": A Guide to Marvel's New Patriotic Superhero Team
The 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 »
You knew it was coming!
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Mister Miracle Special #1 (DC) by Mark Evanier, Steve Rude, Mike Royer, Anthony Tollin, Todd Klein, Richard Bruning, Robert Greenberger
There’s something very comforting about Mister Miracle Special #1. It’s fun yet unremarkable, and takes itself exactly as seriously as it deserves. A lot of story gets packed in, but so much of it is so goofy and/or low-stakes, it ends up being airy overall. While some sections fall flat, most of the book is successfully zany, and there are even some legitimate superheroics in a couple of scenes. It’s hard to do something this feel-good without it becoming saccharine, but this is just sweet enough not to be off-putting, a nice, simple story about two super-people in love working on their relationship.
At the beginning of the comic, Mister Miracle/Scott Free is getting back into death-defying escapes, like being locked in a safe that is dropped from a plane, which his wife Big Barda is not happy about. She understandably doesn’t like to watch her husband willingly put his life on the line, but Scott loves escaping and is having a hard time giving it up. Continue Reading »
A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born.
The concept of Suicide Squad is elegantly simple, and maybe inevitable in the world of superheroes and villains. The difficulty of effectively imprisoning superpowered baddies has been explored in many ways in all kinds of comicbooks, and this series offers one more approach: a work release program for supervillains. And why not? There are all different levels of supervillainy, and as many different motivations for it as people participating in it, so anyone who wants to prove themselves less insane or untrustworthy than their peers might as well get a chance. Besides, giving them another venue/outlet for their abilities could potentially place them on a better path, even make them better people. Right?
Wrong, says Suicide Squad, which seems to believe that people, good or bad, pretty much are who they are no matter what. The book hinges on this philosophy, its drama fueled by the clashing and immovable personalities of its cast. In the world of Suicide Squad, the whole Suicide Squad project is a futile endeavor, an attempt to convince villains to act against their natures through an odd combination of bargains, threats, and field assignments. Trouble is, nobody can ever act against their nature in this book, so the Squad fails or at least half-fails on every outing, refusing to gel as a group and generally causing more harm than good to its members and the rest of the world.
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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