Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"The AUTUMN Comic Book Blog"

Two Comic Blogs in the same month? Outrageous, you say? Well, I guess I can get away with it this time since I'm calling this my Autumn Comic Blog. Besides, I got in and read some new books and have a few comments I'd like to make regarding them.

Both are DC Comics titles: DC Comics Presents A Tribute to Julie Schwartz, and, the new series of Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker.

The DCCPATTJS appealed to me because I grew up during the silver-age era and naturally seeing something along that line would be worth my taking a gander at. The PM interest is due this time mainly because of Johnny Bacardi's insistence that it's a great book.

But, the DC Presents are first. There's 8 seperate issues in this Tribute to Julius Schwartz series, each of them numbered as #1. They include(in alphabetical order): The Atom, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Justice League of America, Mystery In Space & Superman.

Each of these is based, at least loosely, upon a silver-age comic of that particular title: Batman #183, The Atom #10, The Flash #163, Green Lantern #31, Hawkman #6, Justice League of America #53, Mystery In Space (with "Adam Strange") #82, & Superman #264. Okay, well, the Superman actually is NOT a silver-age comic, but rather a bronze one. The cover price had already gotten to be twenty cents by then. In fact, I thought there were probably better issues of that title to use, but...anyway---

I think the number one thing about a tribute is...the guy to whom the tribute's FOR can't appreciate it, since Julius Schwartz died earlier this year. Had they really wanted to make this a tribute to him, they'd all gotten together somewhere in the secret confines of the DC offices and planned this all as a surprize for him during his lifetime.

It's not that these issues aren't "good"; they're sort of a walk down the memory lane, but the stories themselves aren't written in a real silver-age style. In fact, each issue makes Mr. Schwartz a star in the story. Once again, that'd be fine...IF Julius Schwartz was alive to read these.

So, what is good about this series? Well, for all of the Marvel Zombies out there I suppose it either shows them the genius behind what made the DC silver-age so memorable, or, "who was the blame" for all the silliness sometimes that went on in the titles. For myself, I LOVE silver-age DC stories and I'm much appreciative that such a man as Julius Schwartz existed, as we wouldn't have the DC Universe as we know it today had it not been for him; perhaps not even a DC Comics at all. We wouldn't have had The Flash, or Green Lantern, or The Justice League, or a ton of other great reading that now exists in the the history of comic books.

Other parts of this series that I liked were the new covers, along with a repro of the original cover inside the book, just for comparison sake. It was real nice to see such greats as Alex Ross, Brian Bolland, Adam Hughes and others do their recreations of classic comic book cover artwork. But whether this set would be worth spending the $20.00 to obtain it? Well, I'm not here to suggest that either way, but simply to review.

Okay. Now Plastic man. How can I not like this title? The mere mention of the name Kyle Baker makes me want to see the book just from the track record of his previous good work.

Don't expect this new series to be anything like any other series the character has had before. It's not Jack Cole, it's not Ramona Fradon, or like the first issue of the 60's series drawn by Gil Kane or issues thereafter, or the previous series by Phil Foglio. Kyle Baker's style is truely unique. It's a bit quirky to many, but that's just the way his work is. It's humorous; I wouldn't say "slap-your-knee-funny", but it's entertaining. It's drawn in more of a trade paperback style rather than the traditional comic book format. The colors are bright and each panel stands out.

And it's fairly true to his original origin, which is one thing in today's lack of continuity many comic books seem to have, that I prefer. Kyle Baker didn't re-create the character in his own image; he has simply enhanced it. Kyle's involved in every issue, except for #7 which is by Scott Morse, and that's an enjoyable issue as well. Baker may have had some "assists" in issues after #6; style's not quite the same in 8 or 9.

This series will cost you more to get up-to-date with issue #9 than trying to pick up the beforehand mentioned Schwartz tribute, not just because there's an extra issue, but because the price is .45 higher per book. (Unless you're like me who won both sets off on on line auctions for less than twenty bucks).

Whether I would continue to purchase future issues of either of these titles? Well, the point's sorta mute with the Julie Schwartz tribute, I mean, that's all there is of that set. If they did future issues, however, I more than likely would not buy any more of them.

But Plastic Man? Yeah..."maybe". As long as Kyle Baker continues his work on the title with the excellance he's done thus far, I probably will.


At 8:49 PM , Blogger Johnny Bacardi said...

I think you summed up Baker's Plas pretty well- I like the sly humor a lot more than the obvious jokes, and I think that first story arc was about 2 issues too long. I got a big kick out of much of #9; I hope that baker can keep it up.

At 4:12 PM , Blogger ~D.Puck' said...

I think the first 6 issues must have been originally planned as a Lmt. series and were submitted some time back. DC pubbed them, saw the title had some sale potential, then decided to continue it. They gave #7 to Scott Morris so Baker could have some time to work on future issues. If you'll compare art styles just from #6 and #8, they have a distinctive difference. The first 6 could easily be packaged in a trade paperback format, which may have been the whole idea in the first place. I thought the end of first story arc was too hurried; rather a cop-out sort of ending. But overall, I have liked what I've seen of this new Plastic Man title thus far.

At 6:28 PM , Blogger Johnny Bacardi said...

Yeah, the first 6 are coming out in a trade sometime in the next couple of weeks. I seem to remember it being announced a long time before #1 actually came out, but I also seem to remember that it has always been considered an ongoing.

Who the heck knows. :-)


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