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Archive for February, 2011

One-Shot At Greatness #48 X-Patrol

28 Feb

Because publishers want you to buy their product every month, comics are typically serial in nature. However, occasionally (and more often nowadays than ever before) publishers launch a comic title that is only meant to last for one issue. While ongoing series often have multiple chances to hook in new readers, the comics highlighted in this ongoing investigations only had One-Shot At Greatness!

X-Patrol #1Publisher: Amalgam Comics
Cover Date: April 1996
Cover Price: $1.95
Writer: Karl Kesel with Barbara Kesel
Artist: Roger Cruz

When the DC and Marvel Universes merged in Marvel vs DC, a new one was created: the Amalgam Universe. This one-shot combined Doom Patrol with X-Force.

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

A soldier from the future (Niles Cable) and a wealthy, size-changing heroine from the present (Janet Van Dyne, Elasti-Girl) gather a group of heroes together in the hope of creating a different, better future for mankind. The group includes Shatterstarfire (a combination of Shatterstar and Starfire), Beastling (the Beast & Beast Boy), Dial H.U.S.K. (Husk & Dial H For Hero), and Ferro Man (Colossus & Ferro). Their first mission is to stop Doctor Doomsday before he can create an army of super-powered humans from alternate dimensions.

Here’s another standard origin story. Not only does it show the creation of the team but, a page is dedicated to each member’s origin, as well. There’s a little bit of action at the end but the real star here is characterization. Beastling and Elasti-Girl are fleshed out enough in just a few pages to create a lot of fun (and even some depth). That, coupled with the great slick art would bring me back for a second issue.

On Ebay: Amalgam | Karl Kesel | Barbara Kesel | Roger Cruz
On AtomicAvenue: Amalgam Comics

 

Minimate Spotlight #41 Steel

26 Feb

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Doctor John Henry Irons was a brilliant weapons engineer who crossed paths with none other than Superman as he fell from a skyscraper one fateful day. When Irons asked how he could show his gratitude, Superman told him to “live a life worth saving.”

After Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday, Irons donned a ‘home made’ suit of powered armor and took up the good fight to honor his hero’s name.

Behind the Image:

Nothing special here - I simply posed Steel in front of a computer screen with the Superman logo, and took a photo :)  

On Ebay: Steel | Superman
On AtomicAvenue: Superman

 

Retro-Read #47 Scene of the Crime

25 Feb

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!

Publisher: Epic Comics
Number of Issues: 4
First Issue: May 1999 ($2.50)
Last Issue: August 1999 ($2.50)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Michael Lark

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Jack Herriman is a private eye who’s seen better days. He’s moved his practice in with his Uncle Knut (a much-lauded crime photographer) and is trying to get back on his feet again. When an old friend of his father’s turns him on to a missing-persons case, it opens the door to a panoply of unresolved crimes including murder, drugs and child abuse. Jack’s determined urge to uncover the truth and the motivation behind it pushes him to risk his very life to solve this case.

The Bad: This story shows you how sick and twisted some people can become.

The Good: It’s a page-turner with plenty of twists.

The Verdict: Brubaker’s created some well-crafted pulp fiction complete with a “damaged” hero. He utilizes the comic format perfectly by ending on a cliffhanging, game-changing last page in every issue (except for the last, naturally). Lark’s style and the cover designs (along with the great logo) complement the pulp style, perfectly. If you’re into seedy detective stories, I’m sure you’ll enjoying going along for this twisty, turny ride.

On Ebay: Scene of the Crime | Ed Brubaker | Michael Lark
On AtomicAvenue: Video Jack

 
 

Famous Fanmail #47 Barry Dutter

24 Feb

You may not be surprised to learn that most people in the comic business grew up reading comic books. However, you might be interested in knowing what they were reading. Here’s a look at “Famous Fanmail”!

Barry Dutter wrote for Marvel Comics in the early 1990s, mostly for their licensed titles like Beavis & Butt-Head, Captain Planet, Ren & Stimpy and the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. He got a letter published in Alien Legion #4 (cover date: October 1984).

Marvels Comics: Alien Legion letters page with Barry Dutter

On Ebay: Alien Legion | Barry Dutter
On AtomicAvenue: Alien Legion

 

Celebrity Cameos #11 President Clinton

23 Feb

Some of the best parts of movies like Old School and Zombieland are their unexpected celebrity cameos. The same thing happens in comics, every once in a while. Here’s a look at another Celebrity Cameo!

J. Michael Straczynski’s Supreme Power re-imagined the Squadron Supreme as a great, slow-building read. Years after the alien baby crash-landed to Earth, he was raised by the government secretly. President Bill Clinton introduced the alien (Mark Milton) to the world in issue #3.

On Ebay: Supreme Power
On AtomicAvenue: Supreme Power

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #47 Aquaman

22 Feb

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

Erik Larsen’s at it again! This one’s not as obvious as the previous one but it’s still quite apparent.

Aquaman vol. V #53
Aquaman vol. V #53
February 1999
Erik Larsen
Savage Dragon vol. II #72
Savage Dragon vol. II #72
February 2000
Erik Larsen

On Ebay: Aquaman | Savage Dragon | Erik Larsen
On AtomicAvenue: Aquaman | Savage Dragon

 

One-Shot At Greatness #47 Sam & Max

21 Feb

Because publishers want you to buy their product every month, comics are typically serial in nature. However, occasionally (and more often nowadays than ever before) publishers launch a comic title that is only meant to last for one issue. While ongoing series often have multiple chances to hook in new readers, the comics highlighted in this ongoing investigations only had One-Shot At Greatness!

Sam & Max, Freelance Police #1Publisher: Epic Comics
Cover Date: 1992
Cover Price: $2.25
Writer: Steve Purcell
Artist: Steve Purcell

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Sam & Max are a dog & rabbit duo of madness. In this adventure, they’re called to a case on the moon! So, they happily drive there by filling their exhaust pipe with matches and setting them ablaze. Once they arrive at the city of mice on the lunar surface they’re filled in on the situation: lots of mice children are going missing! So, Sam & Max set out beyond the city’s walls to find out what’s going on. They discover a city of enormous cockroaches are EATING the mice children! Yikes! Their solution? Ship all of Earth’s garbage to the cockroach city for them to eat – solves everyone’s problems right?

…. until the cockroaches on Earth start complaining…

It’s madness. Utter madness! I get that this is a humor book. I really do – but, I think it’s a humor that I don’t really get much enjoyment out of – it’s nonsense for nonsense’s sake. TONS of nonsense. Artistically, it’s extremely well-detailed. There’s plenty of stuff going on in the background that you can analyze, at length. And, the tone of the book seems fun and appealing – I just don’t click with the humor. So, I can’t recommend it, personally – but that’s not to say that you won’t enjoy it.

On Ebay: Sam & Max

 

Minimate Spotlight #40 Cannonball

19 Feb

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Cannonball is a mutant from the Marvel Universe who possesses the ability to fly at jet speeds while encased in an invulnerable force field … his ability to fly was usually portrayed as if he had a jet pack in his waist, and the flames would engulf his legs completely. To pull off the look of his powers in Minimate form, Art Asylum designed a flame-base that plugs into the body piece where the legs would normally attach. It’s a pretty effective approach, and led to a very appealing Minimate:

Behind the Image:

To pull off the look of Cannonball flying high in the air, I simply set up the Minimate on his flame-base and stood him in front of a sheet of blue paper and later added clouds via photoshop. The fun part was getting the flame-base illuminated. Since it’s made out of transparent red plastic, all I needed to do was shine a light through it. So I set the Minimate on a plate of glass and positioned a flashlight pointing straight up underneath it. A rather simple approach, but a whole lot of fun to do :)  

On Ebay: X-Force | Cannonball
On AtomicAvenue: X-Force

 

Retro-Read #46 Video Jack

18 Feb

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!

Publisher: Epic Comics
Number of Issues: 6
First Issue: September 1987 ($1.25)
Last Issue: September 1988 ($1.25)
Writer: Carey Bates with Keith Giffen
Artist: Keith Giffen

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Jack Swift is a dark-haired outsider addicted to television. His best friend, his only friend for that matter, is Damon Xarnett, a mischievous blonde. Damon’s uncle, Zachary, yearns for the old days; when the people of Hickory Haven were friendly neighbors and not overtaken by the daily grind. Utilizing astrology, black magic, and state-of-the-art video technology, Zach intends to change the town. By playing It’s a Wonderful Life through his high-tech video room, the town will reflect the mood and feel of that movie. Unfortunately for him, the boys sneak into the room and, growing bored with the old flick, change the channel.

Hickory Haven is now a twisted version of its old self, warped into something barely recognizable! But, all that can change with a flick of the remote control. This series follows Jack and Damon struggling for control of the remote throughout the town of Hickory Haven as it’s turned into reflections of black and white 50s TV, Sesame Street, monster movies, MTV, pirate movies, late-night soaps, sci-fi movies, and more!

The Bad: I fear that, as time marches on, the TV and movie references will continue to be outdated.

The Good: Even though they may become outdated, the TV and movie references are lots of fun for those of us who know the source material.

The Verdict: Bates and Giffen provide a wild ride, paying tribute to all kinds of television on the way. At first, it appears that the book has little direction but, once you hit #3 there’s a crystal clear picture of where the story’s headed. Although, I don’t recall the subplot of the serial killer on the loose ever being resolved. Giffen’s art is most certainly all his own feel (instead of being pushed towards some manner of “house style”) and is able to capture the aspects of all the different realities thrown into the story. He even calls upon some unique friends to illustrate some of the different tributes. Joe Barney, Stephen DeStefano, Alan Weiss, Carmine Infantino, Michael Gilbert, Fred Hembeck, Kevin MacQuire, Jose Marzan, Trina Robbins, Walter Simonson, Jim Starlin, and Bill Wray all pitch in to lend an artistic hand.

Noteworthy: although these comics were published five years after the first Epic Comic came out, this title had the lowest cover price of any Epic series.

On Ebay: Video Jack | Keith Giffen
On AtomicAvenue: Video Jack

 
 

Famous Fanmail #46 Dan Slott

17 Feb

You may not be surprised to learn that most people in the comic business grew up reading comic books. However, you might be interested in knowing what they were reading. Here’s a look at “Famous Fanmail”!

Adding to the fake authenticity, letters pages were created for the Marvels Comics one-shots that asked the question: “What would Marvel Comics be like in the Marvel Universe?” Interestingly enough, one of the letters was from a Danny Slott, purported to be age 9. Now, by this time Dan Slott hadn’t reached the heights of fame he’s since achieved but he had already been working for Marvel, for some time. So, this leads me to believe it was some kind of inside joke amongst creators/editors/assistant editors. This letter comes from Marvels Comics: Thor #1 (cover date: July 2000).

Marvels Comics: Thor letters page with Dan Slott

On Ebay: Thor | Dan Slott