Thursday, January 31, 2013

Anti-Life for Sale

"Anti-Life for Sale" from Forever People vol.1 #3 (DC, 1971) by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta
There's nothing Glorious Godfrey can't sell. The Forever People are my least favorite part of Kirby's Fourth World, probably because I have less of a connection to what they represent - I'm too young to be a hippy or to have any notions of New Age in my personal spiritual make-up. The New Gods are Greek and Norse mythology dressed in science fiction, Mister Miracle is straight up New Testament, and Jimmy Olsen is the comic book prophet, and I GET all of those. The Forever People feel, in comparison, much more dated, a product of the early 70s. Still, it's Kirby, and Your Daily Splash Page loves some Kirby.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Twilight of the Cat

"Twilight of the Cat" from Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #8 (DC, 1972) by Gerry Conway and Ernie Chua
From issue 5, Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love changed its title to this and dropped the obligatory romance angle... and became one of DC's better horror/mystery anthologies as a result! I wish I could have used something from #6, by Jack Kirby, but unusually, the King doesn't include any splashes in it (it was inventory material left over from Spirit World though). Something for the Blog of Geekery, then. FTDM featured some nice art from a variety of great Filipinos, like Chua (above), Nino, Santiago, Alcala, and Redondo. Gil Kane, Bill Payne and Howard Chaykin too. Sadly for this blog, not a lot of splashes among them, but I appreciate the need to keep the page count down for these short stories.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Slate Rock and Gravel

"Slate Rock and Gravel" from The Flintstones and the Jetsons #1 (DC, 1997) by Mike Carlin, Glen Hanson and Mike DeCarlo
Nah, they don't actually team up through some kind of time warp or suspended animation. Each family had its own tales, usually linked thematically. This is the only issue that found its way into my collection, but I've heard good things about the other 18 issues, and I'm especially interested in issue 8 where the Great Gazoo apparently turns Fred and Barney into Wilma and Betty! I wonder what the Jetsons are up to in their story given that "theme"!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Exact Moment of Flushpoint

"The Exact Moment of Flushpoint" from Flashpoint #5 (DC, 2012) by Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope and Jesse Delperdang
Oh Flushpoint, what can I say about you that I haven't already, somewhere on these internets? You know, I like alternate universes as much as the next guy. Big fan of What If? etc. The problem with Flashpoint is that it was the wrong way to end one universe and launch another. Unlike the first Crisis, the granddaddy of reboots, you just couldn't say goodbye to anyone, because their last story wasn't theirs at all, but an alternate world apparently designed to be so dark, the New52 would seem light by comparison, despite being much darker than the previous DCU. That's all I'm gonna say, lest I go off on a rant.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

He Keeps Saying He's the Flash

"He Keeps Saying He's the Flash" from Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #11 (DC, 2007) by Marc Guggenheim, Tony Daniel and Art Thibert
I was (mercifully?) out of comics when they aged up Impulse and turned him into a brown-haired Flash, giving him a short-lived book that suffered, from the looks of it, from constantly shifting art teams. It was cancelled at #13 to herald the return of Wally's book (the numbering continuing from #231), so perhaps it was always meant as buffer project (like, say, Superior Spider-Man), but DC solicited it through issue #15. Yeah, looks like there was one of DC's patented "plans" in play. I'm fine with Impulse growing up to become the Flash, but it does mean we lost Impulse as a much-loved character in the DCU, AND his short stint as an adult ended with his death at the hands of the Rogues' Gallery, villains never really depicted as murderers. It went against the grain and wasn't a story that built up the DCU as much as it destroyed elements of it. Bart would  return later, but that just makes the whole exercise unnecessary and meaningless.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hawkman with Spear

"Hawkman with Spear" from Flash Comics #25 (All-American, 1942) by Gardner F. Fox and Sheldon Moldoff
The Jay Garrick stories in Flash Comics had substandard art, but Sheldon Moldoff's stylish Hawkman strips survived the decades much better. Admittedly, there isn't much splash art - Golden Age comics didn't waste much space - but I'm always entranced by the way Moldoff drew the wings as flowing fur? Air currents? It's so unusual. Hawkman got quite a few covers over the 104-issue run of this book, and shared the book non-stop with Jay, closing each issue while the Flash opened it. Other strips of note: Johnny Thunder (in the first 91 issues, still a lot), Black Canary (who replaced him for the last few issues), the Whip, and the Ghost Patrol. Ok, those last two are perhaps not strips "of note". What happened to Flash Comics after #104? It became Flash #105, starring Barry Allen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Best Served Cold

"Best Served Cold" from Flash vol.4 #6 (DC, 2012) by Francis Manupul and Brian Buccellato
Why did I skip volume 3? It's pretty much the same, at least art-wise, as the New52's volume 4. Barry Allen as drawn by the great Francis Manapul, except he now writes the book. I'm not all that taken with the stories, but the art is gorgeous, especially those opening splashes that, Spirit-like, always find a way to incorporate the hero's name into the scene. That's the real draw here. (Pun intended.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wally's Spider-Man Moment

"Wally's Spider-Man Moment" from Flash vol.2 #76 (DC 1993) by Mark Waid, Greg LaRocque and Roy Richardson
Barry may have been my first Flash, but Wally was MY Flash. But it took a while. The Baron and Messner-Loebs issues, I picked up occasionally, but they weren't to my taste. The Flash downgraded to breaking the sound barrier and having to eat enormous amounts of food to stay awake... It was the same kind of "realisticking" Superman was going through, but simply robbed the character of the most interesting aspects of his powers. I really came on board with Mark Waid's origin story, and then the book REALLY took off. What an awesome, awesome run, and in large part because Waid brought in all the other speedsters - Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, and later, Impulse. Even a faux Barry! He changed Wally's powers for the better, and exploring the Speed Force and what it could do was incredibly exciting. In Linda Park, he created a real match for Wally, and a love story that would count among DC's best ever (no matter how much they're sweeping it under the carpet today). After Waid left, I read the book only occasionally. Johns and Morrison had some good stories to tell, but the art wasn't always on par with those who'd come before, especially LaRocque and the late, great Wieringo.

Here's to Mike, Wally and Linda! I miss you guys!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rogue Attack!

"Rogue Attack!" from Flash vol.1 #174 (DC, 1967) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene
I love the Flash's powers, and he's inherently, regardless of who's behind the mask, one of my favorite DC characters because of it. And my first Flash WAS Barry, back in the days when the only superhero comics I could read were black and white French translations in frankly random-ordered "JUMBO" books. The one where Mirror Master's giant hand comes at the Flash? That was my first Flash comic. But I desperately dislike Carmine Infantino's art. I can't help it. And since he drew a LOT of Flash, from the first stories right up to the end of the book, it turns Barry's Silver and Bronze adventures into a really difficult read for me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You Better Run

"You Better Run" from Firestorm vol.3 #1 (DC, 2004) by Dan Jolley, ChrisCross and John Dell
I didn't really get into Jason Rusch's turn as the Nuclear Man back in the day (the early 2000s were bad years, financially), but I've liked him in more recent comics. Today, he's the brains behind Firestorm, relegated to floating head status while Ronnie plays the jock (i.e. body) of Firestorm. From what I've read, Ronnie would soon return for about half a year, so Jason was hardly going it alone even then, and Professor Stein returned after the series (which lasted 22 issues) to join Jason's matrix during Infinite Crisis. Then he was combined with... Cyborg? Is that right? I'm surprised the book isn't called Firestorm the Combination Man...

Monday, January 21, 2013

War of the Elements

"War of the Elements" from Firestorm vol.2 #91 (DC, 1989) by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake
Don't worry, I'll cover the Fury of Firestorm this book USED to be too, but I didn't want to skip the Tom Mandrake art that closed the series, as Firestorm (Stein only) became Earth's fire elemental. Sure, I prefer the Nuclear Man, but anything Ostrander wrote, I pretty much had to read, if only to keep up with the DCU's international politics.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Make Way for Firestorm!

"Make Way for Firestorm!" from Firestorm vol.1 #1 (DC, 1978) by Cary Bates, Al Milgrom, Klaus Janson and J. Rubinstein
You want to save a hero from obscurity, stick him into the Justice League. That's just what Cary Bates did when his creation was cancelled after only 5 issues in the DC Implosion, and Firestorm soon returned in Fury of Firestorm, the book that, under one title or another, lasted 100 issues. And those original 5 issues really lay out the basics not only of the character himself (himselves?), but of his rogues' gallery. In that short span, we meet Multiplex and Killer Frost and Hyena, all of which would return for more engagements. Cliff Carmichael and Doreen Day too, who went on to become the Thinker and Firehawk respectively.

Cancelled before its time, Bates engineered quite a comeback for his flame-headed young hero. I bet Ronnie gets the evil eye from Shade the Changing Man, (Commander) Steel and Claw the Unconquered.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Hero of Quality, If You Know What I Mean

"A Hero of Quality, If You Know What I Mean" from Firebrand #3 (DC, 1996) by Brian Augustyn and Sal Velluto
Alex Sanchez, the third hero to bear the Fire"Brand", is an obvious product of the 90s, flaming skull head and all. No relation to the Quality Comics hero (Rod Reilly) or his All-Star Squadron sister Danette (MY Firebrand), he was a crippled police officer given implants and powered armor. His series lasted only 9 issues. What happened after that? He was stabbed in the throat by a Checkmate Knight in DC's version of Avengers Arena (if you don't count Countdown Arena, of course; just replace Arcade with Roulette and Murderworld with The House). Truly a fitting end for a 90s hero.

Friday, January 18, 2013


"Medic!" from Final Night #3 (DC, 1996) by Karl Kesel, Stuart Immonen and Jose Marzan Jr.
Another crossover event, this one caused by a Sun-Eater trying to eat our sun. It's the kind of global crisis that SHOULD get all our heroes (and even our villains, as Luthor proves) involved because it's directly affecting our environment. No "call" from above like in other Crises, just a real disaster to deal with wherever you're actually based. What it most reminded me of is the month the Cask of Ancient Winters was opened in Thor and it was snowing all across the Marvel Universe. Today, that would be its own book, with tons of spin-off and tie-ins as everyone tried to make a buck off the Norse disaster. Back in the day, it was just good old-fashioned shared universe logic.

Did I say Sun-Eater? Yeah, that's why we have a Ferro Lad in the 20th century. Of all the luck.

Final Night was also responsible for letting Hal Jordan as Parallax sacrifice himself after becoming an unsuable character in Zero Hour. It's also when Morrison's Justice League came together, though I wouldn't call that a direct consequence.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

No Hope for Atomic Knights

"No Hope for Atomic Knights" from Final Crisis #4 (DC, 2008) by Grant Morrison, JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino
What can I say about Final Crisis that's never been said? Probably nothing. It was a disappointment, with great big images that worked on their own, but unlike previous Crises, wasn't really a game changer for the DCU. It should have restored the Multiverse, but 52 had already done that a year before and not done anything with it (until the crass Search for Ray Palmer specials). It should have been the death and possible rebirth of the Fourth World, but DC undercut and confused all that with lead-up mini-series that told the same story and made even less sense. It was meant as a more intimate story (the Monitor stuff), but hype wouldn't let it (the word "Crisis" itself has unavoidable hype all its own). And it should have been a "Final" end to a the series of crossovers of the previous 5 years, and the last reshuffling of DC's continuity, but Flashpoint wasn't long in coming. Some of its failures can be left at Morrison's feet, but DC Editorial seemed to lack faith in the project, and undermined it wherever they could.

Like most crossover events, it did launch a bunch of other things. Barry Allen came back. Batman was sent into the past. That kind of thing. Spin-offs didn't actually continue after their initial mini, like Japan's own brand of Justice League the Super Young Team, or nipple arsonist the Human Flame. Even the wonderful moment when Aquaman was seen alive and well was ignored and Geoff Johns resurrected him on his own terms in Blackest Night. What a mess.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ground Zero Fate's Tower

"Ground Zero Fate's Tower" from Fate #0 (DC, 1994) by John Francis Moore, Anthony Williams and Andy Lanning
Fate... The 90s' answer to Dr. Fate. First order of business, blow up one of the cooler things about the Fate franchise, the TARDIS-Tower HQ. And then the rest. Aside from the name and the ankh (as an eye tattoo instead of simply the manifestation of magical power), not much remained. Did they melt the Helmet of Nabu into a razor-edged sword? Is that what they did? Anyway, the series was about a grave robber named Jared Stevens with punk streaks in his hair, piercings, and gritted teeth. (There's a reason I chose not to show the character in today's splash.) Dr. Fate is such a cool character, it's incredible to me that's what they did with the concept for almost 2 years of this series, then came back for another in Book of Fate.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

She Spotted Me

"She Spotted Me" from Fallen Angel #1 (DC, 2003) by Peter David, David Lopez and Fernando Blanco
Like many of my fellow comics bloggers, my thoughts go out to writer Peter David who suffered a stroke recently. His creator-owned Fallen Angel was a way to use ideas he'd crafted for his Supergirl run that he hadn't been allowed to include. The clue is that Fallen Angel is called Lee, as in Linda Lee Danvers. But it's really it's own thing, a dark tale taking place in a sentient city out of Christian cosmology, Bete Noire (actually Enoch from the Bible), where there is no crime during the day, but filled with corruption at night. DC published it for 20 issues, and David took it to IDW for a further 33 monthly issues and two minis.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Justice League... EXTREEEEEEEME!!!!

"Justice League... EXTREEEEEEEME!!!!" from Extreme Justice #0 (DC, 1995) by Dan Vado, Marc Campos and Ken Branch
The popular Justice League franchise spawned by the post-Legends comedy JLI came to an abrupt end (if it wasn't already dead) with this ugly-ass Image-style spin-off that, to add insult to injury, included Blue & Gold, characters not at all suited to the premise of a snarling, angst-ridden team of "proactive" heroes. The above characters were later joined by Firestorm (Ronnie), Plastique, and the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, with Carol Ferris as HQ coordinator. Because why not. Somehow, this tripe lasted 18 issues.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Enginehead Blueprint

"Enginehead Blueprint" from Enginehead #6 (DC, 2004) by Joe Kelley and Ted McKeever
I don't know a whole lot about this quirky 6-issue mini-series, except that the mechanical protagonist is made of parts taken from relatively obscure DC characters or their equipment, people like Professor Emil Hamilton, Automan, Rosie the Riveter, Brainstorm and Doctor Cyber. He met other mechanicals, including Metallo and the Metal Men, but I don't think I've ever heard of him appearing in anyone else's book. I'm thinking of checking it out, but have never been sold on Joe Kelley's work. Anyone?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pulling the IVs

"Pulling the IVs" from Empire #3 (DC, 2003) by Mark Waid, Barry Kitson and James Paskoe
Dig some Barry Kitson art? Have some. Want to know a little more about Mark Waid's Empire? I wrote a bit about it for my Reign of the Supermen series.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Christmas at Elvira's House of Mystery

"Christmas at Elvira's House of Mystery" from Elvira's House of Mystery Special #1 (DC, 1987) by Paul Gulacy
Twelve issue of recycled House of Mystery inventory, plus a Christmas special, hosted by the B-Movie queen, but it did give us linking material like this. Poor Cain. Ousted from his own House by a celeb. He knows how every writer who's been taken off a book in favor of JMS or Meltzer or Kevin Smith must feel.

Merry Christmas! (Wait... am I late?)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ralph Dibny vs. the Wurstwaffe

"Ralph Dibny vs. the Wurstwaffe" from Elongated Man #4 (DC, 1992) by Gerard Jones, Mike Parobeck and Ty Templeton
One of the nice things about the Justice League's success in the late 80s and early 90s is that the Elongated Man finally got his own (mini)series. As a member of Justice League Europe, he got to travel to various countries and fight some amusing local villains, as well as a refurbished Sonar. Mike Parobeck made the book a delight, even though I was never sold on Ralph's new purple and white costume (but the worst was yet to come). Parobeck made Sue Dibney look like Dr. Girlfriend, which is a plus for today's reader. The Dibneys weren't treated very well in the 2000s, but you know I would have read a book where they starred as ghost detectives, you know I would.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Electric Thinker

"Electric Thinker" from Electric Warrior #6 (DC, 1986) by Doug Moench and Jim Baikie
Though the prose is obviously purple, and the art isn't particularly memorable, this 18-issue series does seem more relevant today than when it was originally published. In the future, the top 1% has cyborg servants - Electric Warriors - keeping the 99% down in the dregs. A lone Warrior breaks his conditioning and grows a conscience, something in short supply across humanity of any class. DC's 1980s forays into science fiction are all to be rediscovered, I think.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Not at All Like Ghost Rider Then

"No at All Like Ghost Rider Then" from El Diablo vol.3 #1 (DC, 2008) by Jai Nitz, Phil Hester and Ande Parks
I'm being facetious. I really did like this mini-series, but you gotta admit, the whole spirit of vengeance, passed on from host to host at least since the Old West, with a skull face, no less... It's not exactly an original concept. Chato Santana survived the Flushpoint, but somehow got himself stuck in the New52 Suicide Squad, which I'm sorry to say, I can't bear to read. Too bad, because he was one of the few characters in the first issue I wanted to see more of.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Small Town Hero in Demand

"Small Town Hero in Demand" from El Diablo vol.1 #8 (DC, 1990) by Gerard Jones, Mike Parobeck and John Nyberg
El Diablo is on my list of series I missed the first time around, but would like to read today. Things that attract me to it include Mike Parobeck art, the Golden Age Vigilante as an overweight mentor figure, and the fact that this is basically a precursor to the current Blue Beetle (El Diablo is a latino character with a large cast of characters and his stories take place in Texas). I know it's not a modern classic or anything, but I bet it's a pleasant reading experience. I'll talk about it on Siskoid's Blog of Geekery one day, you mark my words.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Blood-Soaked Comics

"Blood-Soaked Comics" from Eclipso #1 (DC, 1992) by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming, Bart Sears, Ray Kryssing and Mark Pennington
The Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover was a lame, repetitive event that basically just turned a character evil in the Annual of each regular series - and it's set to happen all over again, it seems - but the monthly Eclipso series it spawned, while yes, being very 90s and eventually resulting in multiple hero deaths by dismemberment (perhaps before it was a cliché), I remember liking at the time. What can I tell ya, I've got a thing for comics that feature a villain as a protagonist. You're never quite sure where they're gonna go. In Eclipso's case, he quickly took over the fictional country of Parador, and acts as both villain and host. It kinda goes off the rails when we start following a team of heroes trying to take him down (but it does make it a Suicide Squad series).

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Big Atom

"Big Atom" from Earth 2 #4 (DC, 2012) by James Robinson, Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott
I'm enjoying Earth 2 on a reboot level, i.e. in finding out how various characters and concepts are going to be re-imagined. I won't always agree with the designs or choices, but at least it's a process of discovery, some of it fairly imaginative. Thematically, the parallel Earth has gone from being about the first generation of heroes to being about the latest, the JSA (not that they're called that yet) following in the footsteps of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, heroes that, on their world, have fallen to the forces of darkness.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Madame Xanadu's Storefront

"Madame Xanadu's Storefront" from Doorway to Nightmare #1 (DC, 1978) by David Michelinie and Val Mayerik
In the late 70s, Madame Xanadu started out as a horror host à la Cain and Abel, but her series lasted only 5 issues. "Doorway to Nightmare" isn't very good advertizing for her shop. The stories weren't very good advertizing for the book.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mr. Nobody Is Somebody

"Mr. Nobody Is Somebody" from Doom Patrol vol.5 #11 (DC, 2010) by Keith Giffen, Matthew Clark, Ron Randall and John Livesay
Keith Giffen's strange sense of humor was put to good use giving the Doom Patrol its last series to date, approaching an only slightly more mainstream version of Morrison's style the more he went along. This was a dense read, peppered with "found documents" like those in Giffen's 5 Years Later Legion of Super-Heroes, and though he brought back a few characters from Morrison's DP - like the hero formerly known as Crazy Jane, and Mr. Nobody of the Brotherhood of Dada, above - he also couldn't help injecting much more humorous characters as well. Ambush Bug became the first member to know he's in a comic (that's a reference to Animal Man's Morrison finale, if it didn't immediately strike a chord) and Super-Hip, a crazy hero from The Adventures of Bob Hope! It was a different kind of strangeness, but a strangeness nonetheless.

Giffen must be pretty sick of getting all the weird assignments and getting them cancelled out from under his feet by DC. I really like his quirky stuff. It deserves better.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Waterproof Robotman

"Waterproof Robotman" from Doom Patrol vol.4 #3 (DC, 2004) by John Byrne and Doug Hazlewood
John Byrne obviously has a love for the Doom Patrol, or else he wouldn't have asked to draw all their entries in Who's Who (or their issue of Secret Origins). It would be almost 20 years before he got a chance to do a series though, and again, this is one I missed first time 'round. All I really know is that he rebooted the team, eliminated every other appearance from continuity, and brought back the characters killed by Arnold Drake. Well, everyone else had made a comeback of one sort or another, except Elasti-Girl. Cancelled after 18 issues, it was all undone anyway as Infinite Crisis restored the DP's continuity. So those Superboy-Prime punches weren't all bad.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fearless Robotman

"Fearless Robotman" from Doom Patrol vol.3 #10 (DC, 2002) by John Arcudi and Tan Eng Huat
I was out of comics for a while and completely missed the Doom Patrol in the early 2000s (two whole volumes!). Since picked up a few issues of Arcudi's series, mostly because it has such interesting art, and hoping to read the whole thing for my Old 52 series some day. What I know is that Robotman is back (he's old faithful - it ain't the DP without Cliff Steele), this time with a bunch of super-powered kids. Eventually, the weirdness of the previous series comes home to roost, but the issues I do have are very art-centric, quick reads. Anyone want to steer me towards or away from this book?