Friday, January 31, 2014

The Existentialism of Cliff Steele

"The Existentialism of Cliff Steele" from Who's Who in the DC Universe #15 (DC, 1992) by Richard Case
In the early 90s, Who's Who came back with a completely different format. Loose leaf products were all the rage - I also own a great many pieces of AD&D's Monstrous Compendium, similarly packaged - and the idea was that you could order your Who's Who whichever way you liked, whether alphabetical or by type, or even by team. The Doom Patrol entries had that white stripe format, just like the book's covers, that would have made that idea very natural. I'd rather have bound comics and books, but I do admit the illustrations were generally gorgeous, big and in full color, and the binders very beautiful (if much too full, especially once I added the DC Heroes RPG companion loose leafs). Because of the high production values, I'm afraid this version of Who's Who wasn't as "complete" as the original, no room for more obscure characters, but they did do some delightful things with it - longer fold-outs, a Vertigo issue, Sandman in black with white script, Death with a sort of cheeky non-entry... But I don't consider it superior to the original series.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dial H for Hero

"Dial H for Hero" from Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #6 (DC, 1985) by Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Howard Bender and Dennis Jenson
I've made my love of the original Who's Who plain over at Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, both through overt tribute and through a series of posts called Who's This? which I consider to be a companion piece of the extremely fun Who's Who podcast recorded by blogging friends Shag and Rob! Do I need to go on? Yes, let's. In choosing which entry to use as a "splash", I instinctively went to vol.VI, which I've always considered my favorite. Why? Well, part of it is that at the time, my 9th-grade self had started toying with a concept I called the Super 7, which was a superhero team that changed each month, and whose members were drawn from each issue of Who's Who. The first team was from this issue. Further, the game was to attribute seven identities to myself and six friends, and WHY did our superhero identities change each month? It just now hit me: It's because the whole idea came up while contemplating the Dial H for Hero entry. The strip was an old favorite of mine, I'd just forgotten it was intimately related to the Super 7 thing! Well there you go.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stagecoach Vigilante

"Stagecoach Vigilante" from Western Comics #1 (National, 1948) by Mort Meskin
Vigilante only lasted four issues of Western Comics (was this DC's first of the genre?), but I do find it interesting that a modern-day hero with a western shtick was initially included in a primarily 19th-century classic western anthology that also spawned the Wyoming Kid, Pow-Wow Smith, Matt Savage Trail Boss, and Nighthawk.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Iron Wolves

"Iron Wolves" from Weird Worlds vol.1 #9 (DC, 1974) by Howard Chaykin, John Warner and Vicente Alcazar
Weird Worlds started out with Pelucidar and John Carter of Mars stories, and in its final issues, featured Chaykin's Ironwolf stuff, reprinted later in the character's own book (though not this House of... material).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Promise to a Princess

"Promise to a Princess" from Weird Western Tales vol.1 #12 (DC, 1972) by John Albano and Tony De Zuniga
It should have been the western equivalent of Weird War Tales - i.e. this particular adventure should have featured a fairy tale princess or something - but it was mostly a Jonah Hex book, with side-orders of El Diablo, Scalphunter and Cinnamon. Not that these guys' stories couldn't get a little weird, but they were a far cry from, say, Super-Chief. Certainly not Creature Commandos level.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

War Is Death

"War Is Death" from Weird War Tales vol.1 #100 (DC, 1981) by Joe Kubert
Can you believe this anthology series ran for 124 issues? And mostly without the benefit of the Haunted Tank or the War That Time Forgot, too! (The latter did make a return in WWT, but had been a mainstay in Star-Spangled War Stories.) New weirdness eventually came in the form of G.I. Robot, Viking Commando and the Creature Commandos, but they all came pretty late to the party. On the weird things today is Death as narrator. Because she wasn't in her cute Goth chick form, I never realized she was another of Sandman's "horror hosts".

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Toxl the World Killer

"Toxl the World Killer" from Weird Mystery Tales (DC, 1972) by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
How many such anthologies did DC have in the 70s? Answer: Too many. How many featured Jack Kirby work? Answer: Too few.

Friday, January 24, 2014


"I CAN'T STOP!" from The Web #10 (DC, 2010) by Matthew Sturges and Roger Robinson
But the series, and the whole Red Circle brand, could. Oh DC, why try to gobble up all the superhero properties when you're not really going to really invest in them? The Archie heroes are much better off where they are now.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ostrander and Close Dig Up Old Story Ideas

"Ostrander and Close Dig Up Old Story Ideas" from Wasteland #5 (DC, 1988) by John Ostrander, Del Close and David Lloyd
A horror anthology when no one was really doing horror anthologies anymore, and an adult one too, it would take the Vertigo banner for that kind of thing to really take off. But every issue I've seen has been worthwhile. I should probably get the whole thing one day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dinosaur vs. Unicorn

"Dinosaur vs. Unicorn" from Warlord vol.4 #3 (DC, 2009) by Mike Grell, Chad Hardin, Wayne Faucher, Dan Green and Walden Wong
PLACE YOUR BETS!!! (The odds are on the raptor's side, I have to warn you.) Mike Grell returned to Warlord a few years ago, to resounding ambivalence. No one cares about Skartaris anymore, despite it being the only place dinosaurs fight unicorns.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Did You Say Chest Spikes?

"Did You Say Chest Spikes?" from The Warlord vol.3 #9 (DC, 2006) by Bruce Jones and Bart Sears
Horror writer Bruce Jones had success with his run on the Hulk, which is where I encountered his work, but his Warlord reboot was a dismal failure, ending after only 10 issues, leaving all plot threads dangling, and subsequently getting ignore by later writers. This is just a taste.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Warlord Memories

"Warlord Memories" from Warlord vol.1 #65 (DC, 1983) by Mike Grell, Dan Jurgens and Mike DeCarlo
DC's most successful fantasy series (133 issues and 6 Annuals, with creator Mike Grell writing the first 6 years of it), it even had its own action figures. And I think that's mostly why I would try an issue here and there, but it never did capture my imagination. I suppose by the time I was deep into sword&sorcery, reading many novels and playing D&D, the book's best years were behind it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Where Is the Love?!

"Where Is the Love?!" from The Wanderers #8 (DC, 1988) by Doug Moench, Dave Hoover and Robert Campanella
No love for this comic, and I'm dreading having to read it for my big Legion project coming in mid-2014... This 30th-century team premiered in a Legion story in the 60s, and was pointlessly brought back in the late 80s, except not really. The first thing DC did was kill them, clone them, and give them all-new appearances. What was the point? Keeping the "Wanderers" copyright? An unlucky 13 issues.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Howdy, Compadres

"Howdy, Compadres" from Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #3 (DC, 1996) by James Robinson and Tony Salmons
According to the rules I've set for myself, I should post a splash from Vigilante's recent ongoing, but wow did I find the first issue insipid. It didn't last long either. So instead, here's one from James Robinson's mini-series about the ORIGINAL, Golden Age Vigilante, set in that period. Oh yeah.

Friday, January 17, 2014

He Strongly Dislikes Crime

"He Strongly Dislikes Crime" from Vigilante vol.1 #1 (DC, 1983) by Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard and Dick Giordano
I don't know very much about this series, except what I've read about it, mostly because I've never had much interest in the Punisher, and this was DC's answer to Frank Castle's popularity. (Is it me or did Marv Wolfman's 80s DC career consist almost entirely of trying to steal Marvel's thunder?) So what HAVE I read about Vigilante? Basically that though the creator, Wolfman's issues aren't very interesting, while Kupperberg's later issues actually do something interesting with the character. But so much other stuff to read before I ever get to this.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Multiple Mon-Els

"Multiple Mon-Els" from Valor #21 (DC, 1994) by Kurt Busiek, Colleen Doran and Dave Cooper
Meant to build the legend of Mon-El in the absence of a post-Crisis Superboy so HE can inspire the Legion of Super-Heroes, the idea that he seeded the various worlds of the 30th century with superhumans didn't even take place in this series. So it was all rather tepid space superhero stuff, quick to become irrelevant when Zero Hour hit and changed everything (again). The final issues tried to connect Valor to the LSH before it was too late.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Visitors Hate Station Wagons

"The Visitors Hate Station Wagons" from V #13 (DC, 1986) by Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino and Tony DeZuniga
The V comic could have shown us stuff that wasn't possible on a TV budget. Unfortunately, it never really surpassed scenes like the one above.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Happy Ending for the Unknown Soldier

"A Happy Ending for the Unknown Soldier" from Unknown Soldier vol.4 #25 (Vertigo, 2010) by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli
I was a big fan of this version of the Soldier, and got other people into it at work. The African setting was one we hadn't seen before, and the creators really did their research. It became a war title as worthy as, say, DMZ, though people didn't talk about it as much. It even eventually linked up to the DC continuity Soldier.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Vehicle-Mounted Weapons

"Vehicle-Mounted Weapons" from Unknown Soldier vol.2 #10 (DC, 1989) by Jim Owsley and Phil Gascoigne
The late 80s re-positioned the Soldier in a 12-issue series that revealed he was immortal, and shows him participating in various conflicts from the 70s on. I hear it's pretty good.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

News From the Front

"News From the Front" from Unknown Soldier vol.1 #221 (DC, 1978) by Bob Haney and Joe Kubert
It's funny. Because he drew his first story (in a Sgt. Rock tale in Our Army At War), and did all those Unknown Soldier covers - and the Who's Who entry - I associated Joe Kubert with the Soldier, but he really only drew one issue of any series called "Unknown Soldier". With respect to the work of Dick Ayers who drew most of the original series (under that title), I just can't pass up the chance to show a Kubert piece. It's a weakness.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mean Street

"Mean Street" from The Unexpected #221 (DC, 1982) by Steve Ditko and Gary Martin
Before Danny the Street, there was...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Universe in Crisis: Here We Go Again

"Universe in Crisis: Here We Go Again" from Trinity #2 (DC, 2008) by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley and Art Thibert
I know people were just about sick of DC's year-long, weekly comics series by then, but I quite liked Kurt Busiek's Trinity. It started as an exploration of what Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman meant as superhero memes, with some very nice interaction between them, and later became an alternate universe story - a Crisis of sorts - in a DCU that didn't have them in It. it was nice to have Mark Bagley drawing the DC Universe as well.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Beating

"The Beating" from Tor vol.1 #1 (DC, 1975) by Joe Kubert
I love Kubert's work, and he makes Tor just about the best caveman strip ever drawn. (Sorry, B.C.!) The art is so gorgeous, the anachronistic dinosaurs and strange monsters thrill you rather than irritate you. The comic actually started in the 50s in a book called "1,000,000 Years Ago" which became "3-D Comics" with its second issue and finally "Tor" with its third (all from St.John). The original five issues were reprinted in the 70s by DC after an original issue (well, almost original, since it was expanded from an attempt at a Tor newspaper strip). Eclipse then reprinted the 3D issues and published a new story in Sojourn. I first encountered Tor in the gorgeous over-sized Epic mini-series and was more than happy to pick up a new mini-series from DC in 2008. Tor also appeared in Kubert's last published series, Joe Kubert Presents. Beautiful stuff.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

So Bob Kanigher Is Now Writing Tomahawk, Right?

"So Bob Kanigher Is Now Writing Tomahawk, Right?" from Tomahawk #122 (DC, 1969) by Bob Kanigher and Frank Thorne
Actually, from what I've read, DC's answer to Davy Crockett faced aliens and dinosaurs long before this issue, so the crazy was already in its DNA. For a while, Tomahawk even shared the book with his Howling Commandos-like team, the Rangers. But I've never heard anyone speak kindly of the first 120 or so first issues (or his long stint in Star Spangled Comics before that). The last couple years of the series had stronger art from the likes of Thorne, with covers by Neal Adams, and ran several frontier strips, including the newly introduced Hawk Son of Tomahawk feature that took over the book.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Trigon's Seen Better Days

"Trigon's Seen Better Days" from Titans vol.2 #2 (DC, 2008) by Judd Winick, Joe Benitez and Victor Llamas
And so has this franchise. I guess it's convenient that the Titans can keep shuffling between Teen Titans and just Titans, getting cancelled and going back to #1 each time. This is the series that was turned over to some villains after they killed the Atom, Ryan Choi. Somebody still needs to explain to me what the hell DC was doing there. Not just with the Atom's death (because they sure didn't put Ray Palmer to good use after that), but with using the Titans brand to create a low-rent Secret Six or Suicide Squad.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Sidekick Is a Junkie Part 2

"My Sidekick Is a Junkie Part 2" from Titans vol.1 #43 (DC, 2002) by Tom Peyer, Barry Kitson and James Pascoe
Oh no! Aqualad! Not you too!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Time Warp Invasion

"Time Warp Invasion" from Time Warp #1 (DC, 1979) by Denny O'Neil, Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano
This sci-fi anthology lasted only 5 issues, and though it had interesting artwork (if not a lot of splashes, for our purposes) from the likes of Howard Chaykin, Jim Aparo, Joe Orlando and Steve Ditko, the stories were short, with simple twists, like low-rent Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episodes. Those I've seen anyway.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


"Running" from T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents vol.1 #2 (DC, 2011) by Nick Spencer, Cafu and Bit
In the last few years, DC never seemed content with their own stable of superheroes and tried their hand at various other properties, but it's debatable if they really gave any of them a proper shot. So we had the Archie heroes (Red Circle), pulp heroes (First Wave), Milestone heroes, and the integration of Wildstorm properties in the New52. And then there was DC's take on THUNDER Agents, which despite some A-level creators, never really worked for me. I AM enjoying the heck out of IDW's current iteration, lighter, funnier and tons more fun.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Aqualad Goes Mental

"Aqualad Goes Mental" from Teen Titans Spotlight #10 (DC, 1987) by John Ostrander, Erik Larsen and Romeo Tanghal
Oh man, Teen Titans Spotlight. I was getting into New TT late (it had turned into Tales), so dutifully got the solo anthology series for most of its run. The material varied from worthy (Starfire faced with famine in Africa) to neat (Changeling vs. Mr. 104) to dull (Jericho got a 4-issue arc, the longest in the series' history) to absurd (the Brotherhood of Evil visits Tintin's now-postapocalyptic dimension). The series featured stories and art from a variety of creators, some at the start of their careers, like JMS and Erik Larsen (the latter, above).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Teen Titans Rock Concert

"Teen Titans Rock Concert" from Teen Titans Go! vol.1 #38 (DC, 2007) by J. Torres and Chynna Clugston
I really liked the Teen Titans Go! cartoon series, and it's neat mix of anime, Bob Haney mod, and cool WB action. The comics series brings the same feel to the page and could be a lot of fun. I always enjoyed the Mad Mod issues most, for some reason. See above.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How to Follow Kid-Flash

"How to Follow Kid-Flash" from Teen Titans vol.4 #3 (DC, 2012) by Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund
I dislike Booth's art quite a lot, but this is a fun idea from the New52 Titans series. As for the series itself, Lobdell writes it like a convoluted X-Men book, with the authorities after the kids right in the first issue. Mutantmania in the DC Universe. Add terrible costume designs and an obsession with crossing over with other books (often, Lobdell's Superboy), and you've got a recipe for yet another bad Titans book.