Friday, May 31, 2013

Korak, Son of Tarzan, Croc Fighter

"Korak, Son of Tarzan, Croc Fighter" from Korak, Son of Tarzan #47 (DC, 1972) by Len Wein and Frank Thorne
A license (and numbering) inherited from Gold Key, DC sent the Son of Tarzan into more fantastical realms than his dad, and produced, from what I've seen, some very good jungle action comics. The book went from 46 to 59 before turning into Tarzan Family (Families aren't just for Batman and Superman!) where, naturally, Korak's strip continued. Something to hunt down, I think.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Primeval Wolves

"Primeval Wolves" from Kong the Untamed #2 (DC, 1975) by Jack O'Leck and Alfredo Alcala
With superheroes kind of on the wane, the mid-70s were a time of trying all sorts of stuff, especially at Joe Orlando's office it seems. Kong was an attempt at a new caveman comic, if not a particularly realistic ones (plenty of dinosaurs in it). It's basically Anthro with a twist - he's got blond hair! Or maybe it's Rahan with a twist - he's a kid! Whatever. Kong lasted 5 measly issues. When do we get our Demon Knights-like caveman title starring Kong, Anthro, Vandal Savage, Immortal Man and (on loan from the Kubert estate) Tor?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Burning Comics

"Burning Comics" from Kobra #5 (DC, 1976) by Martin Pasko, Rich Buckler and Frank McLaughlin
Those old Kobra comics are a lot like the original Eclipso stories, which I suppose is the prototypical DC supervillain comic, in that they feature a secondary protagonist trying to stop the villain, in this case Kobra's separated-at-birth Siamese twin! Well, until he DIES!!! Despite a first issue by Jack Kirby, the book didn't make it very far (#7 to be precise). Still, though Kobra was created for this series, he managed to stick around a long time and went on to what I'd almost call the A-list of villains. The B+ list at least.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In the Future, Superhero Comics Will Only Be About Superheroes Fighting Each Other

"In the Future, Superhero Comics Will Only Be About Superheroes Fighting Each Other" from Kingdom Come #4 (DC, 1996) by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
Yeah, I don't cover mini-series very often, but Kingdom Come is too important. In many ways, it's the Watchmen of its time, isn't it? Just like Watchmen, other writers tried to copy its success by drawing all the wrong lessons from it. That's how an allegory for amoral 90s anti-heroes supplanting their Bronze, Silver and Golden Age superheroic forebears became a call for just more amoral 90s anti-heroes. Sigh. Somehow, Kingdom Come's legacy hasn't been a return to heroic ideals, but rather 15 years of Magog, Superboy-Prime and nasty Marvel Family stories. There was a war and we lost...

Monday, May 27, 2013

You're Going to Hell

"You're Going to Hell" from Kid Eternity vol.3 #13 (Vertigo, 1994) by Ann Nocenti and Sean Phillips
In the early 90s, I pretty much read everything Vertigo put out, regardless of relative quality. I remember liking it all to some degree, but I can't remember a single thing about the Nocenti/Phillips Kid Eternity series that followed Grant Morrison's re-imagining. I'm flipping through the entire run now and nothing really rings a bell except the art. A damning impression?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Historical Figures: Good vs. Evil

"Historical Figures: Good vs. Evil" from Kid Eternity vol.1 #15 (Quality, 1949) by William Woolfolk and Pete Riss
I love love love the idea of Kid Eternity summoning up historical figures to help him, and Master Man, who summons bad guys from hell itself should have been a recurring villain. Sadly, modern takes on the Kid haven't captured the charm or educational remit of the idea. Also see the Star Trek episode The Savage Curtain.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Karate Kid vs. Cavemen

"Karate Kid vs. Cavemen" from Karate Kid #11 (DC, 1977) by Jack C. Harris and Ric Estrada
DC's attempt to get into the 70s kung fu craze is rather odd. A 30th-century Legionnaire whose unique power is "super-karate" goes back in time to "find himself" in the 20th century. It's about two layers too complicated. There's nothing about the Karate Kid solo series that's especially interesting, either in the writing or the art, and it's no surprise it lasted only 15 issues. Same as Marvel's original Iron Fist, I suppose, though the Fist continued his adventures with a partner, and very much short of Shang-Chi reaching #125. No, the character's longest-lasting legacy is that the Karate Kid movies have to acknowledge DC Comics in their credits.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lincoln Among the Lions

"Lincoln Among the Lions" from Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #8 (DC, 1973) by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
Anyone who's seen Kirby's insane 2001: A Space Odyssey adaptation will realize how he could just as well take Planet of the Apes up a few levels. That's Kamandi. For some reason, it was his most successful DC series, lasting 59 issues, 40 of them Kirby's own. Ironically, it's the one that's been least re-attempted by other creative teams. We've had plenty of attempts at the Fourth World and the Demon, and more than one version of OMAC, but aside from an unconvincing Elseworlds project and references during Countdown/Final Crisis, nothing. I'm not actually asking for a new Kamadi series. I'm asking for the Kamandi Omnibus. Maybe for my birthday?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The JLA Uses Trading Cards, the JSA Audition Pictures

"The JLA Uses Trading Cards, the JSA Audition Pictures" from Justice Society of America vol.3 #1 (DC, 2007) by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham and Art Thibert
At a time when the JLA writer was fetishizing and cannibalizing the team's Satellite era, JSA was doing the same with Kingdom Come. I guess that was the hook that would make the JSA relevant to newer fans. So we got Earth-2 Superman and Magog and Alex Ross covers and some of the JSA legacy characters created for Kingdom Come too. Hey, if it can keep the Golden Age heroes in the public eye and heart!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Returning Heroes

"Returning Heroes" from Justice Society of America vol.2 #1 (DC, 1992) by Len Strazewski, Mike Parobeck and Mike Machlan
After a Strazewski-penned 8-issues limited series in which the JSA fought Vandal Savage in the 50s,  the writer was given an ongoing series to play around in. This one took place in the present day, and featured characters that had uncommon vitality, but still showed their age, and who wondered if there was a place for them and their values in the 1990s. Readers decided there wasn't. This version of the JSA was apparently too light and character-driven for the target demographic. It lasted 10 issues before Zero Hour took care of the JSA permanently. And by permanently, I mean for the next 8 years.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Creepy Creeper

"Creepy Creeper" from Justice League Unlimited #10 (DC, 2005) by Adam Beechen, Carlo Barberi and Walden Wong
When the Justice League cartoon became Justice League Unlimited, I didn't mourn, I cheered. I just didn't have time to miss following the central cast as closely as before as the show became a kind of DC Comics Presents. It gave us, among other things, the 7 Soldiers of Victory, a new Legion of Doom, the Suicide Squad, the Question as a conspiracy theorist, and some really intense martial arts action from the likes of Black Canary and the Huntress. The comics series was much the same, with lots of done-in-one stories featuring every possible character from the DCU. Ish #10 has the Creeper squaring off against the Madmen, bringing two Ditko creations together in a fun story, and it's only one example among many. The animated DCU was often better and purer than the mainstream DCU, and its comics shared in that success.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ignore the Nightwing Behind the Curtain

"Ignore the Nightwing Behind the Curtain" from Justice League Task Force #1 (DC, 1993) by David Michelinie, Sal Veluto and Jeff Albrecht
JL Task Force was sort of JLA meets Suicide Squad with less dying. J'Onn J'Onzz oversaw missions with a rotating cast of Justice Leaguers, both old (Flash, Aquaman, Gipsy, etc.) and new (Nightwing, Bronze Tiger, Triumph, etc.). It's like suddenly anyone could be drafted into the Justice League (a bit like what the Avengers have since become). I didn't stick with the book for long, and looking at my old books looking for a splash I can see why. After the first year, it seemed to quickly devolve into 90s superheroics, and even before then has some strange ideas. J'Onn turns into the Martian Manhuntress, for example, and there's the scene above, where ponytailed Nightwing was standing behind a curtain for an entire scene... I don't dislike Veluto's art (though it's rather dependent on who's inking), but his dramatic staging is weird to say the least.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Justice League in... Trials and Tribble-ations

"The Justice League in... Trials and Tribble-ations" from Justice League Quarterly #3 (DC, 1991) by Keith Giffen, Gerard Jones, Mike McKone and Bob Smith
Two DC franchises were so popular by the start of the 90s that they got thick Quarterly books to feature more stories. These were the Green Lantern Corps and the Justice League (sound familiar?). JLQ was hit and miss, though it did have Mark Waid writing the lead most times, though Giffen and Jones (the regular JL writers) wrote the story of a miniaturized League traveling to the JLofA's Happy Harbor era above. However, the features on Justice Leaguers acting solo have lost a lot of relevance. General Glory (just awful)? Maxima? PRAXIS?! It can't all be Fire & Ice, I guess. The book is also famous for creating the Conglomerate. I'm just kidding. It's not famous at all.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Third Issue Mandated Batman Guest Appearance

"Third Issue Mandated Batman Guest Appearance" from Justice League of America's Vibe #1 (DC, 2013) by Sterling Gates, Manuel Garcia, Fabiano Neves, Sandra Hope Archer and Fabiano Neves
The more things change (Vibe gets his own book?!), the more they stay the same (nananananananana BATMAN!).

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Justice League, Not THE Justice League

"A Justice League, Not THE Justice League" from Justice League of America vol.3 #1 (DC, 2013) by Geoff Johns and David Finch
So I'm record saying I can't stand the current Justice League book. A second title pops up, this one, and it's even worse. Unlikable characters, another boring government-controlled set-up, and Finch's horrible art. When Vibe is your most engaging member, you might be doing something wrong. Really, I can't understand how Johns can be writing these anti-heroism books when he's got things on his CV like Adventure Comics' Superboy stories. Not the same man, at all.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lex Luthor's Cheesecake Pillar

"Lex Luthor's Cheesecake Pillar" from Justice League of America vol.2 #14 (DC, 2007) by Dwayne McDuffie, Ed Benes and Sandra Hope
There was no way I was going to pick up Master of Decompression Brad Meltzer's JLofA, the one that started with the Big 3 playing the Versus CCG for issues on end. I'm afraid McDuffie's takeover wasn't entirely successful, so long as an artist like Ed Benes was on the case. No Black Canary crotch shot in the above image, but it's still pretty smarmy. And footless. Is that why Red Tornado's legs have been removed? One of his feet would have been in frame? I bet that's it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Batman Doesn't Fear the Fire

"Batman Doesn't Fear the Fire" from Justice League of America vol.1 #254 (DC, 1986) by Gerry Conway, Luke McDonnell and Bill Wray
I could have used a splash from the classic Silver Age JLofA. Or one from the Satellite Era. But nooooo. I had to pick something from Justice League Detroit. GET OVER IT! Anyway, it's Batman getting close to a flaming Despero and not even FLINCHING. JLDetroit was better than you remember, yo.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


"Choices" from Justice League International vol.3 #1 (DC, 2011) by Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan
Imagine if Booster Gold had chosen Metamorpho or Plastic Man or B'wana Beast or the Creeper (so he exists in the New52, not just as a Japanese demon in the most recent issue of Katana, or did Jack Ryder die in Phantom Stranger, sigh) or Congorilla... Unless I'm mistaken, those characters have yet to show up in the New52 as yet (Rex was referenced though). As it turns out, Jurgens' JLI was just too straightforward for me and fell by the wayside early. Solid superhero material, but it didn't really rise above the average. I did pick up its death throes and was stoked to see a Rip Hunter/Booster Gold sequence, but I'm still waiting for them to undo the Flushpoint.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Guy Gardner's Baaa-aaaack!

"Guy Gardner's Baaa-aaaack!" from Justice League International vol.1 #18 (DC, 1988) by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon
One of the weird things in JLI was the transformation of Guy Gardner from a right-wing a-hole to a warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely, naive left-winger. It was Batman's punch that did it. And then Lobo showed up, punched him again, and we got our old Guy back! A case of Giffen and DeMatteis knowing when the joke has gone on long enough. JLI was probably features the series' best sequence of issues. Justice League was too serious, Justice League America too comical. JLI was Goldilocks' "just right" Justice League.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Creeping Towards Kingdom Come

"Creeping Towards Kingdom Come" from Justice League: Generation Lost #11 (DC, 2011) by Judd Winick, Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan
Not that it matters. Any of it. More than the promises made by Brightest Day, JLGen Lost really infuriated me when the Flushpoint invalidated its reconstitution of the old JLI (with the new Blue Beetle in place of Ted Kord, but still a Blue Beetle). Though more serious than the 80s-90s comics, there was still a pretty hilarious Rocket Red and all the characters best associated with that era of the Justice League (and, like J'Onn, not associated with any other), like Booster Gold, Fire and Ice, Captain Atom and Power Girl. Maxwell Lord was in it too, as a villain, which was perhaps unfortunate. That's a character I feel was tainted by the events he was forced on him by big stupid crossover events, and here was the perfect place to purge him of Ted's murder, etc. But no, still a douchebag villain. Not that it matters.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

So Is J'Onn the Sheriff?

"So Is J'Onn the Sheriff?" from Justice League Europe #27 (DC, 1991) by Keith Giffen, Gerard Jones, Bart Sears and Randy Elliott
Though JLE was the more serious of the two JLI books, there was still room for comedy. Power Girl's mangy cat, for example, got itself a couple of solo issues and they are among the most memorable of the run. But the book also gave us the lethal Exterminators and Metamorpho's family trouble. After Breakdowns, things went south QUICK. The JLE moved to a haunted castle, Power Girl got a truly horrifying costume, oh and there was a storyline where one of the male members possessed her body and try to sleep with the female Dr. Light before walking on all fours like an animal. That's when I decided I'd had enough.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Bad Case of Manchester Black

"A Bad Case of Manchester Black" from Justice League Elite #10 (DC, 2005) by Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen
Elite was to the Justice League what Secret Avengers is to that franchise. Except it only managed 12 issues. Probably because it featured strange new members like Sister Superior, Manitou Raven&Dawn, Menagerie and Coldcase. Appearances by Green Arrow and the Flash I don't think were enough to rescue a book that was TOO "black ops" for its own good. I mean, who WERE those guys?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dead Acrobat

"Dead Acrobat" from Justice League Dark #13 (DC, 2012) by Jeff Lemire, Mikel Janin and Victor Drujiniu
The "Justice League" brand doesn't quite fit its characters, but in the JLDark, Jeff Lemire has turned an intriguing Milligan book into a fun minor hit. He seems intent on the cramming as many magic-related DC characters into its pages as possible, in strange and daring combinations. He's brought back Tim Hunter and Black Orchid, made John Constantine fly around creation in the House of Mystery (yes, it IS bigger on the inside), and even brought Frankenstein back from cancellation limbo. Amethyst in a Justice League? Bring her on! And the art is quite pretty too.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bloodwynd vs. Martian Manhunter

"Bloodwynd vs. Martian Manhunter" from Justice League America #74 (DC, 1993) by Dan Jurgens and Rick Burchett
The Giffen League that started as Justice League and then became Justice League International, was eventually split into two books - JL America and JL Europe - to better cover the globe with justice. It wasn't the BEST move in the world. JLE was a straighter take, leaving JLA to go for more and more comedy, to the point where the joke wasn't that funny anymore. General Glory, for example? Not funny. The art started to suffer as well, and Giffen eventually ended the series with the Breakdowns event. Of course it went on, and by issue 80 or so was nigh unreadable dreck. But between Giffen and the bad writing/bad art eras, there was a shining beacon of frankly readable comics. Dan Jurgens took over the book and though the team composition was all over the place, he brought a solid superhero look and storytelling style that was perfect for the period's crossover with the Death of Superman, for example. I think it's never been collected, because I often read comments asking for a trade. It's worthy. What came later, not so much.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cold War

"Cold War" from Justice League Adventures #12 (DC, 2002) by Christopher Sequeira, Min S. Ku and Mark Propst
Why has this supervillain team never been assembled in the proper DC universe?! Polar Lord?! Brilliant! Does it need to be said that comics based on the WB cartoon were often better than a lot of mainstream fare? Well if it does, I'm saying it here. I loved the Justice League cartoon on TV, and I don't remember a bad issue of their comics Adventures either.

Monday, May 6, 2013

For the Throne of Atlantis

"For the Throne of Atlantis" from Justice League vol.2 #17 (DC, 2013) by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
I've bitched about this book a heck of a lot, at the Blog of Geekery, other blogs, Twitter, so I don't want to get back into it here. For some reason, I keep getting an issue from time to time, hoping it's gotten better. New members I like, an Aquaman-centric event, nice art (Reis is very much an improvement over the substanceless Jim Lee)... But every time I do, I'm left unsatisfied. If it was just the book's usual problems - telling instead of showing, incoherent characterization, etc. - I don't think it would be THAT bad. It's gotten better every time I picked up an issue. But the deal breaker for me is the Shazam back-up. It is heinous, and in some cases, even steals pages from the main feature. Cut it, bring the price back down, and you might just have an okay book, DC.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sam Beckett Leaps Into Booster Gold

"Sam Beckett Leaps Into Booster Gold" from Justice League #4 (DC, 1987) by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon
I'm going to cover every iteration of the Justice League, don't worry, and I'll talk about the 80s League's comedy under Justice League International. Let it be known, however, that the book started out as simply "Justice League", lasting 6 issues and an Annual before adding the extra word to its title. These issues weren't QUITE as comedic, though they were quick to get there once Booster Gold was added to the roster. There was humorous banter, to be sure, but the storylines and subplots had yet to merge into the full-on action sitcom it would eventually become.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pulp Never Seemed so Sci-Fi

"Pulp Never Seemed so Sci-Fi" from Justice Inc. vol.1 #3 (DC, 1975) by Denny O'Neil, Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
The Avenger is a pulp hero like the Shadow, Doc Savage, etc., one that can change his features to look like anyone. Adapting bits from the original pulp novels by Kenneth Robeson, but not necessarily, the series lasted only four issues, three of which were drawn by Jack Kirby. A weird fit, and I imagine it's why the stories suddenly tended to monsters and aliens. There was also a two-issue Justice Inc. book by Helfer and Baker, trying to do what they had with The Shadow, and more recently, Justice Inc. was a back-up in one of the First Wave books.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Alex Ross' Green Lantern Corps

"Alex Ross' Green Lantern Corps" from Justice #12 (DC, 2007) by Alex Ross
It could have been All-Star Justice League based on when it came out, or perhaps I should say All-Star Super-Friends. Alex Ross indulged his fixation with the 70s cartoon by having the Justice Leaguers fight the Legion of Doom, a supervillain team that had never actually appeared in the comics (as a team anyway). Hey, I was a big fan of Challenge of the Super-Friends too. The 12-issue limited series was splasharific, of course, so why choose the Green Lantern Corps? Well, the splash features some alien characters you don't often see Ross do, and I guess I like throwing frequent commenter SallyP a bone from time to time.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stop the Music, I'm Gonna Be Sick

"Stop the Music, I'm Gonna Be Sick" from Judge Dredd: Legends of the Law #4 (DC, 1995) by Alan Grant, John Wagner, Brent Anderson and Jimmy Palmiotti
DC's OTHER Dredd series took its concept and even its title from Batman's Legends of the Dark Knight, and featured multi-issue arcs by different creative teams who wanted to take a shot at Dredd. Grant and Wagner were obvious fits, but there was also work by people who'd never done a Dredd story before, like John Byrne (just writing, not drawing, though). Like the main book, it didn't last very long (13 issues).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Freeze, Creeps!

"Freeze, Creeps!" from Judge Dredd #1 (DC, 1994) by Andrew Helfer and Mike Avon Oeming
Though I'd seen Judge Dredd in reprints before, and had the role-playing game, my first prolonged taste of Dredd was when DC held the rights to publish new Dredd stories for the American market, just as IDW does now. Check out the dates. Each American version of the book coincides with the release of a movie. The ongoing started strong with Mike Avon Oeming art, but he left after a few issues. The book didn't resonate with the American public, I guess, because it only lasted a year and a half. Or perhaps I should lay that at the Stallone film's feet.